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Meet the recruiter

Beverley Sorsby

Beverley Sorsby

Beverley Sorsby is the director of human resources at Ropes & Gray. She’s based in the London office and has been at the firm for nine years.

What has been your most memorable moment in the job?

Right now! I’m currently waiting for our new early careers advisor to join the firm. She’ll be joining in a few weeks but, in the meantime, it’s been all hands-on deck organising the upcoming recruitment campaign. I also really enjoyed being part of the team that upgraded the firm’s global recruitment site which has dedicated trainee recruitment pages. Now that we’re back on campus, we’ve brought the brand to life through our new careers stands and freebies.

Does your firm run a vacation scheme?

We run two vacation schemes: one in spring (April) and one in summer (June/July). We’re excited that all our events will be returning to in-person this season. Having people back in the office adds to the vibrant culture we’ve created at Ropes & Gray. It’s really important for us that students get to experience that.

How important is the vacation scheme as part of the recruitment process?

We recruit exclusively from the vacation schemes. This is because we believe it’s important to have one consistent route to entry that allows us to rigorously assess our future trainees. And they also have the chance to get a feel for the firm and see whether Ropes & Gray is a place they’d like to work. We have a small intake of around 12 trainees each year. We work in lean teams and our trainees are given a lot of responsibilities from day one so it’s important we make the right decision when selecting our future trainees.

What kind of work can candidates expect to experience during the vacation scheme?

We intentionally designed a separate assessment day so that we could use the vacation scheme as an ‘experience’ to provide candidates with the opportunity to understand what it’s like to be a trainee at the firm. Whether that be the chance to get involved in real-life trainee tasks, experience the vibrant culture, practice group insight sessions or networking and socialising with people across the office. There are a couple of assessments built in, including an interview and a blog post.

What key skills does your firm look for in candidates when they apply?

We look for talented students who are motivated and interested in pursuing a career in corporate law, who are collaborative and enjoy working as part of a team, as well as entrepreneurial. We look for people who are intellectual, curious and detail focused.

How is the firm adopting the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE)?

Trainees who join the firm from September 2023 onwards will qualify via the SQE route. We offer full sponsorship of the Post-Graduate Diploma in Law and SQE1 and 2 in addition to an annual maintenance grant of £12,500 per year of study.

How important is diversity and inclusion to your firm?

Diversity, equity and inclusion is extremely important to us as a firm, so we have several interventions to ensure we target and select a diverse group of future trainees. These initiatives include targeted events for female students, LGBTQ+ students and black students.

We use a blind assessment process for our recruitment, which means that none of our interviewers or assessors have details of an applicant’s background to reduce any unconscious bias that may occur at all stages of the process, screening, interview or assessment. This helps mitigates unconscious bias and affinity bias.

We use RARE’s Contextual Recruitment System, which enables us to further understand the context in which applicants’ experiences have been gained, and to identify outperformers that others may miss.

We also work with Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO), who introduce us to talented students from diverse backgrounds who they support through their application process.

We‘ve recently launched a new social mobility programme, called ‘BRidge To the City’ which is in partnership with SEO London and Bloomberg LP. We're very excited about this programme, as we believe it’s the first time a US law firm in London has collaborated with a client in this way to provide students from under-privileged backgrounds the opportunity to explore career options in both legal and compliance settings. Social mobility programmes are extremely important, as they’re designed to access to the profession for those with the ability to join a firm in the future, but without the means or networks to get there. We absolutely have a responsibility to this talent pool to provide them with the access and insights and provide more of a level playing field. The programme consists of a two-week placement for 12 SEO students, with one week spent at Ropes & Gray and one week at Bloomberg. During this time students will take part in masterclasses in negotiation and drafting, as well as panel events, workshops and socials. At the end of the scheme, two students will each receive a scholarship, consisting of a £20,000 bursary, a vacation scheme place and long-term mentoring.

What is the most common way that candidates let themselves down in their applications?

Typos, grammatical errors and getting the firm name incorrect! You should always proof-read your application. If you can, ask someone else to read the application form.  Alternatively, print a copy to read. It’s always easier to spot errors on paper than it is on a screen.

How important is it for candidates to show they have researched the firm before they apply?

It’s extremely important. We want to assess students’ motivation to not only be a lawyer, but also work at Ropes & Gray specifically. At the application stage, we ask students to discuss a current economic, political, and/or technological challenge and how this will impact us and our clients, so it’s important that you know what we do and who our clients are. 

Does your firm run an assessment centre?

Yes, we do. Our assessment day is intentionally rigorous. It’s a full-on, one day assessment centre comprising an interview, written exercise, negotiation exercise and presentation. The assessments are designed to assess the attributes we’re looking for. Students should prepare by researching the firm and preparing for the obvious questions at interview, it’s also worth trying to gain experience of the skills we’re assessing you on, so you can practise beforehand. If your careers service is running mock interviews or negotiation exercises, I’d take advantage of those.

Does your firm attend university law fairs in the autumn term? What is your main objective when you go to a law fair?

We do, and we’re excited to be back on campus this season. We attend the fairs to get our brand out there and to encourage students to sign up to our presentations. This is an opportunity for students to learn more about our culture and life as a trainee, as well as an opportunity to network with our colleagues. 

What’s your favourite TV show?

I love a period drama, whether that be Pride & Prejudice, Poldark, Downton Abbey or Sanditon. As part of an office initiative, we were asked to create a film review. The first Downton Abbey film had just been released so I decided to submit a video. In addition to providing my views on the film, I provided additional video footage as I come from near the place where the fictitious town of Downton is set.