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Meet the recruiter

Mathieu Pinto Cardoso

Mathieu Pinto Cardoso

Mathieu Pinto Cardoso (he/him) is the graduate recruitment manager at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom (UK) LLP in London. Mathieu joined the firm in 2019.

What is your favourite part of the recruitment calendar?

The vacation schemes are my favourite part of the recruitment calendar. They’re a great way for us to showcase the amazing opportunities the firm offers. They also give us the chance to get to know the candidates better.

We run three vacation schemes at Skadden – one in spring and two in summer. Candidates can apply from the final year of a non-law degree or the penultimate year of a law degree.

The 2023 schemes will take place in our new office at 22 Bishopsgate – we’re very excited about the move!

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

The vacation scheme is absolutely crucial to our recruitment process. We recruit all our trainees via the schemes. We have a small intake of around 14 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’ve designed the vacation scheme to provide the opportunity for candidates to experience what it’d be like to be a trainee at the firm. We give candidates real work across two departments during their time with us. They get exposed to learning and development opportunities through the challenging and interesting work that they’re invited to get involved with. The schemes are a great assessment tool for us, but it’s always a two-way process: we want the scheme to give candidates the chance to identify whether they can see themselves thriving as a trainee at Skadden and whether the firm is right for them.

Name one key skill your firm looks for in candidates when they apply?

The firm is a very collegiate place so being able to work well within a team is essential, whether it be lawyers from other departments in the London office or lawyers from our other offices globally, as the work here tends to be very international.

Beyond skills, we’re also looking for a certain mindset: we’re looking for people with a can-do attitude, as well as people who are hungry for success and are committed to delivering the best service possible for our clients.

How important is diversity and inclusion (D&I) to your firm?

Diversity, equity and inclusion have always been core values of Skadden since the very founding of the firm, so making sure we attract and retain diverse talent is very important to us. We’re one of the sponsors of the Aspiring Solicitors commercial awareness competition, and this year we’ve had interns from the 10,000 Black Interns programme. We also have a PRIME work experience programme. Internally, our affinity networks play an integral role helping to enrich the broader Skadden community and facilitate relationship-building, which can be particularly beneficial for trainees.

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

Our future trainees will sit SQE1 and SQE2 before the start of their training contract. We believe this structure will be less disruptive to their qualifying work experience and their development during this two-year period. As well as paying in full the tuition fees and cost of taking the exams, we’ll also provide a £15,000 maintenance grant for the SQE. Our future trainees will complete their SQE preparation with BPP University Law School.

Should candidates use examples of non-legal work experience in their applications?

Absolutely! We’re not looking for candidates to necessarily have legal work experience as it can be quite difficult to secure work experience in the legal industry. That said, we’re looking for people who have a variety of work experiences and can demonstrate that they’ve developed key transferable skills that are applicable to the training contract and life as a solicitor.

It’s a bit disappointing when we see candidates who have no work experience whatsoever.

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

It’s essential. We want candidates who are interested in getting to know the firm and research is the first step – for example, research what the firm does, who its key clients are, any news relating to Skadden, and the deals/cases the firm is/has been working on. It’s an integral part of the assessment processes, as this knowledge about the firm will help candidates perform well during their interviews with partners and associates.  

It’s nice to see candidates demonstrate a particular interest in specific practice areas, but we do want to meet candidates who are open minded at this stage as we offer a very diverse range of practice areas for them to experience during the training contract.

Does your firm run an assessment centre?

Yes, we run online assessment centres that include three tasks:

  • an interview with two lawyers;
  • a group exercise; and
  • and a written exercise.

What advice would you give to anyone interested in a career at your firm?

To connect with the firm. There’ll be plenty of opportunities to do so this autumn as we’ll be attending various virtual law fairs this autumn and we’ll also be hosting our own virtual and in-person events. Hearing directly from the people who work at the firm is a great way to get a better understanding of the firm, get ‘a feel’ and decide whether it’s the right place for their future career.

I’ll be advertising all those events on my LinkedIn profile so prospective applicants are very welcome to connect with me on there.

What's your guilty pleasure?

Re-watching episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.