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Lydia Block is the graduate recruitment adviser at Taylor Wessing. She is based in the London office and has been at the firm for nearly three months.
How did you end up in law?
I began my career on a graduate internship at my university, working on the employability events calendar for students. From there, I spent some time working in the graduate recruitment team at a professional services firm, and finally taking the step over into the world of law at the end of this summer.
What are the most/least enjoyable aspects of recruiting?
Graduate recruitment is a really rewarding role because of the great relationships you form. We get to know candidates at very early stages of their careers, some of them on campus or even at school, so it’s especially great to see people get the training contracts that they have wanted for so long and then go on to thrive at the firm. The Autumn term can be quite hectic, visiting law fairs up and down the country, but I really enjoy seeing the different university campuses and, of course, the great careers fair lunches!
What is the biggest challenge of the job?
The graduate recruitment calendar is action packed – we have to get our message and brand across in various ways, and the challenge is to keep on top of everything, especially with all the new technology that is available to students now. Employers face a real challenge in how to get their brand across while remaining relevant to the market.
What has been your most memorable moment in the job?
Presenting at our recent open day to 30 of our best and brightest students has definitely been a highlight so far.
Do you socialise with your trainees/vac scheme students?
Taylor Wessing is a very people-focused, social firm – we have a fantastic roof terrace which we get lots of use out of, particularly in the summer. We also put on plenty of social events such as quiz nights and winter parties. There are also many opportunities to get to know the trainees and vac scheme students, especially with the socials we organise. For example, we run four socials over the course of the vacation scheme, two of which are firm wide and two of which are with our current trainees. There is always a lot going on.
What are you trying to achieve at law fairs?
Law fairs are a great opportunity to meet students face to face and raise awareness around what makes us unique. Through attending law fairs, we are able to have the conversations and discussions with students that just would not be possible otherwise. Our firm has a great culture, but websites and recruitment literature are not necessarily the best mediums in which to get that side of things across. That’s why it’s so important to give candidates the opportunity to have proper conversations with people from the firm to understand what sets us apart. Often, we will bring trainee alumni to the fairs, to demonstrate to students that a career with Taylor Wessing is attainable. They're also an opportunity for us to meet strong candidates and keep in touch with anyone who is really impressive.
What's the best question you’ve been asked at a fair?
The best questions tend to be those where the answer cannot be found on our website. The questions that are clearly thought out and genuine always get a good response, and it's hugely fulfilling to see when we've really shed some light on a particular issue for a student.
How important is your vacation scheme as part of the recruitment process?
We do make a good proportion of our training contract offers to those who come through our vacation scheme. It is important to get to know the firm and whether it’s right for you, while your time with us on the vacation scheme also lets you experience the kind of work that you would be doing as a trainee. This obviously helps us to decide, with greater certainty, which candidates should be offered training contracts.
What is the most common mistake you see candidates making, apart from the obvious typos?
Some candidates need to think more deeply about what each question on the application form is asking – every question is there for a reason. You also need to make sure that you not only answer the question, but do so in a clear and concise way. Increasingly, we are looking for our trainees to be more than lawyers – we need them to think like business advisers as well, therefore demonstrating commercial awareness in their application is a must.
What are the attributes you look for in a trainee that are particularly suited to your firm?
We don’t have a set preconception of what a Taylor Wessing trainee should be. We want to have a range of different personalities and backgrounds at the firm. That said, teamwork skills are obviously very important, so make sure to provide examples that demonstrate this if you apply. We're looking for people who are ambitious, with a real enthusiasm and business curiosity. Commercial aptitude is also crucial because our solicitors are also business advisers to their clients.
Have you got examples of candidates citing improbable activities or experiences to demonstrate skills relevant to becoming a lawyer?
As long as you are able to link your activities or experiences back to being a lawyer and how this could benefit the firm, that is all we ask for! At a time where application volumes are so high, it can often help you to stand out from the crowd if you have a particularly unique activity or experience to share, but do always ask yourself the question around whether it is enhancing your application.
What is the biggest challenge facing would-be lawyers today?
The number of applications we receive is increasing, so the competition for places and the resultant pressure to make your application stand out is really challenging.
What advice would you give to anyone thinking of joining the legal profession?
Be proud of your wider experiences and interests – we are not looking for people who realised they wanted to become lawyers at the age of three. Legal work experience is important, but we want diversity and balance in the individuals we recruit. We're not looking to recruit a whole cohort of people with the same strengths and experiences, therefore it's really important to let your personality shine through, and gain as much work experience as possible in order to make informed choices. Remember to keep an open mind!
Which practice areas are the real core of the firm’s business and will this change?
Our key sector areas through which we define ourselves are: technology, media and communications, life sciences, energy and private Wealth, all of which have been identified as real areas of growth. That said, we are a full-service firm with a range of award-winning practice areas.
What is one key fact that candidates should know about your firm?
Make sure you familiarise yourself with the basics, including our development paths and what about them appeals to you.
What's your desert island disc?
Mumford and Sons, Babel.View Taylor Wessing's details