Samantha Hope is the graduate recruitment manager at Shoosmiths, where she has worked for nine years. She is based at the firm’s Northampton office.
I studied law at university, then when I graduated, I recruited junior doctors for the NHS and then worked as a recruitment consultant specialising in placing graduates before joining Shoosmiths in 2010. It's great to be able to use both my legal knowledge and recruitment skills. My role has evolved to include apprentices, marketing, social media and events management too. In May 2019 I won the ‘Best Individual Contribution’ award at the HR in Law Awards 2019, as recognition for my commitment to ‘upskilling’ the legal profession from an early stage.
I love the variety of recruiting and meeting lots of different types of people. I think it's really important to consult people about what they want from their careers, rather than making assumptions. Trainees are encouraged to be innovative with ideas in how we can improve processes and it's great to see these getting implemented.
I really enjoy training candidates to make the best use of the tools available to them, particularly at events like LawCareersNet LIVE where I meet candidates who are genuinely interested in what I have to say, and ask well-thought out questions which will help them to decide whether we’re the firm for them. We try to make Shoosmiths’ workshops and presentations interactive and fun, because we think it’s the best way to learn, and that definitely makes my job enjoyable!
Planning years in advance can be difficult, especially in law where we recruit so far in advance. It’s also hard to see so many candidates who don’t secure a placement or training contract after putting in so much work – that’s why it’s important to me to widen access to a career in law by delivering useful workshops where candidates can develop, and do better next time, and this benefits the entire legal industry.
We all work closely together, so it's nice to have a social side to things as well as a professional one. Our first-year trainees have a residential induction week when they join the firm, then another as part of their PSC training. We usually do an activity together such as crazy golf or pizza-making, and have a few dinners out together with NQs and training principals.
We also run spring and summer socials at each office location, where we invite our current and future trainees, placement students, NQs and a variety of partners from each office. This is a great chance for the future trainees to get to know us better and meet future colleagues.
Walking into the Birmingham office on a Monday morning in September and seeing a group of brand new trainee solicitors on the first day of their induction week is always a great feeling, and a really proud moment for them too. The new trainees always look fantastic, enthusiastic (and perhaps quietly a little nervous). It’s such a big day for them, finally starting their training contract, and it is a pleasure to be a part of that.
Law fairs are a fantastic opportunity for candidates, as you’ll meet different levels of staff and get a genuine feel for the firm. I am always accompanied by trainees, NQs and a training principal or partner, so there is a good range of people to chat to. We like talking to candidates who have arrived prepared with questions and some prior knowledge about a career in law. It’s impossible for us to attend every law fair though, so this year we’ll continue to host a number of online, live videos via Facebook, called #ShoosmithsLIVE where you can ask us anything, even if you can’t make it to a law fair near you.
At one law fair, someone asked me if we made shoes – it’s not the best question I’ve been asked. Candidates who are able to elicit information from me at a law fair by just having an enjoyable conversation are always stand-out candidates. I always remember candidates who talk to me about their favourite TV shows or hobbies, or something personal to them.
Candidates should be bright and able to think and work independently, but we also want someone who is personable, who we can be put in front of clients early on and who we’d like to work with ourselves. All our offices are open plan, and our teams work in an agile way, so being friendly and sociable, as well as professional, is important. We’re also looking for people who go the extra mile, put in the hard work and have a passion for what they're doing. We run an employee recognition scheme called 'Above & Beyond', which rewards just that!
Our summer vacation placement scheme is integral to recruiting trainees. I would encourage anyone interested, to apply for both a placement and training contract by submitting a joint application to us before the 28 February deadline. If you perform well on the placement, we will invite you back to the assessment day in June, so it is a fast-track process to success. Though it’s important to note that if you don’t get a vac scheme, that’s not a disadvantage to you because we do recruit directly onto the training contract, too.
Not fully answering the competency based questions – you need to have a clear understanding of why we’re asking you the question, we need to know what happened, who was involved, how did it affect them, what did you learn from the experience, and how that experience will make you a better lawyer, or make you more suitable for working at Shoosmiths. Be really specific, and use as much of the word count as possible. You can read more about common mistakes I see applicants in my post “Top 10 brainless blunders that could cost you your training contract”.
Speak to everybody you possibly can about a career in the law and get as much experience as possible. It’s not just legal experience; all work experience is valuable, even if it's just on the checkout at a local supermarket. Overall, the best advice I can give you is to act on advice, read blogs and watch videos – then apply that knowledge and commit to your own future.
We offer high-quality work with amazing clients and inspirational colleagues, all in modern workspaces. Each office plays a vital role in the firm’s success and we offer both commercial and private client training seats. Everyone at Shoosmiths is very friendly and approachable, and the open-plan office creates a more fulfilling training process. I often read feedback from vac schemers and trainees that they are surprised to find that partners and other colleagues are genuinely interested in ensuring that they have a great training experience with the firm, and it disappoints me that this may not be the case in every law firm.
Here’s a few key facts about us:
I’m a serious Instagram-lover (some might say over-sharer), so any business that could exist on Instagram would be ideal. I’ve always thought about running events to bring together local independent businesses to one place, and showcase those businesses and products on social media and through local influencers.
Chocolate toothpaste cake – I grew up with it at school and I’m told it’s local to Bedfordshire. It’s a pastry base with chocolate mousse topping which has a toothpaste-like texture. It’s hard to come by, but there are lots of recipes online – it sounds strange, but it really is quite yummy.
I don’t think I could live without Spotify! I listen to random playlists and love finding new music to add to my ever growing list of “favourites”. I’ve found study playlists great to listen to while I am working – sometimes you need to zone out with some headphones when you work in a busy open-plan space. Recently I’ve also been listening to books on Audible while I travel to different Shoosmiths offices.