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Suzie Ingram is the graduate recruitment officer at Shoosmiths. She joined the firm in May 2016 and is based in its Northampton office.
How did you end up in law?
I studied psychology at university and spent some time working in the healthcare sector straight after graduating. Having then decided that I wanted a change and after spending a year abroad, I secured a generalist HR role at Grant Thornton. I was interested in graduate recruitment, so when the role at Shoosmiths came up it looked ideal, especially as I wanted to work for a top firm outside London.
What are the most/least enjoyable aspects of recruiting?
One of the most enjoyable aspects is being involved with the trainee induction week. It has often taken the trainees many years to secure their training contracts, including a two-year gap between being recruited and starting, so it’s an exciting week with lots of activities and social events. You can see how much they want to start and how long they’ve waited, so it’s a really fun thing to be a part of.
The least enjoyable aspect is making the calls and giving feedback to those candidates who have been unsuccessful after attending the assessment centre. It can be tough to turn down good candidates who have worked so hard.
What is the biggest challenge of the job?
Making recruitment decisions in relation to the large number of high-quality applications we receive compared to the small number of training contracts we can offer – around 20.
What has been your most memorable moment in the job?
Making my first ever training contract offers – they were lovely phone calls.
What are you trying to achieve at law fairs?
Law fairs enable us to meet students and give them first-hand information about the culture and opportunities at Shoosmiths. We bring some of our trainees with us so that the students can ask them about the role. This is particularly helpful as the trainees have only recently been through the process themselves. Fairs are a brilliant way for students to make initial contact with the firm and to gain insight that they can’t get from just reading our website.
What's the best question you’ve been asked at a fair?
Generally, the best conversations that I have had have been with students who are enthusiastic about Shoosmiths and who ask specific questions related to their research. For example, someone might say, “I have an interest in real estate law and I see that it is one of your main practice areas; do all trainees get the chance of a seat in the real estate department?”. It shows that they can link their own personal interests to what we do. It’s always good to meet students who have an understanding of what we offer and who come prepared with a list of questions. You definitely take note of those people who have thought things through carefully in advance.
How important is your vacation scheme as part of the recruitment process?
Our vacation scheme is key. Outstanding performers on the scheme are fast-tracked to a place on our training contract assessment day. Last year, over half of our vac scheme students went on to attend the assessment day. The scheme offers insight into what working for us is like and allows students to decide if we’re right for them. It is very much a two-way process. But we also appreciate that it’s not always possible for candidates to attend a scheme because of other commitments, so we want to reassure people that they can still apply direct for a training contract and be successful – the vac scheme is not the only way in.
What is the most common mistake you see candidates making, apart from the obvious typos?
Amongst good candidates, it’s missing the opportunity to make their application stand out by failing to think about why we ask those particular questions. So before you start the application form, research the firm thoroughly and particularly the type of trainee that we’re looking for. Identify how to relate your answers to your knowledge of the firm and the role. Research is key!
What are the attributes you look for in a trainee that are particularly suited to your firm?
We are looking for innovative, commercially aware trainees who share the firm’s four core values – namely, taking initiative, pulling together, being within reach and responsive and talking business sense. Throughout the entire application process, candidates are being assessed against these values. We also want trainees who are enthusiastic about Shoosmiths and who will fit in with the down-to-earth culture of the firm.
What advice would you give to anyone thinking of joining the legal profession?
Do your research and speak to as many people in the profession as you can. Law is so competitive and there are some really big changes happening, so anyone thinking of joining the profession needs to have a clear understanding of what’s involved in the process of becoming a lawyer and of the role itself.
What is one key fact that you expect candidates to know about your firm?
We expect candidates to know that we are a leading national firm with 12 offices across the United Kingdom.
What is your dream job (other than this one!)?
Probably something to do with marine biology so that I could be somewhere hot, exotic and near the sea!View Shoosmiths's details