Vinson & Elkins RLLP

Aidan Connor
Vinson & Elkins RLLP

Vinson & Elkins RLLP

Aidan Connor is the head of talent management at Vinson & Elkins. He is based in London and joined the firm in November 2018.

How did you end up in law?

I studied law at university from 2002-2005 and graduated with a 2:1, but I realised that I didn’t want to be a lawyer. I liked the law but felt that my skills were better suited to something else, so I took some time out before taking a role with the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal. There I met a partner who talked to me about the important role HR plays in law firms and became immediately interested. I got my start in this career at a big shipping law firm and have worked my way up from there, taking a particular interest in recruiting and development.

I joined Vinson & Elkins in November and it’s been brilliant so far. There is a real buzz around the firm and the Walkie Talkie building is a very cool place to work because it is about as modern as it’s possible to get in terms of office space. This contributes to the open feel of the working environment, encouraging people to talk to each other.

What does your role at the firm involve?

I cover both graduate and lateral recruitment, so I’m responsible for all our hires from trainees, to associates, to partners. The other side of my role is people management – reviews, promotions, budgeting and retention. It just goes to show that law is a very transferable degree to have!

What are the most enjoyable aspects of recruiting?

I like the international nature of what I do. Although I’m principally responsible for talent management in London, this involves working closely with colleagues based at our Texas headquarters and across our Middle Eastern offices – we all share the same global, coordinated approach.

However, the most rewarding aspect of the job is helping people in their careers, whether they are graduates looking to start their professional lives, laterals looking for their next career move, or people already at the firm aiming to become partners or counsel.

What advice would you give to students attending a law fair?

Come prepared and just be yourself. Try to take in as much as you can and don’t underestimate yourself. If you are really interested in working here, tell us, and more importantly tell us about you and your career goals and reasons for applying to us.

Do you socialise with your trainees/vac scheme students?

Social events are a key part of our recruitment cycle and we put on presentations and networking events over our vacation scheme, in addition to office open days, law fairs and other campus activities throughout the year.

I have also noticed how the firm seems sociable and integrated as a whole, aided by the fact that the entire office is based on one floor so everyone sees each other every day, as well as by our social committee which organises all kinds of events and activities.

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

Our vacation scheme is a key driver of our recruitment process and we recruit the majority of our trainees this way.

What is the most common mistake you see candidates making, apart from the obvious typos?

It sounds like a given, but it’s so important to know the firm you are applying to and for candidates to be able to distinguish their applications between the different firms they are targeting. Make sure that you reference the practice areas that the firm actually specialises in, not those you wish it did! It is of course completely expected that candidates will apply to more than one firm, but as each firm is different, each application must also be unique.

Some candidates also fail to provide examples and explanations in their answers to the questions on the application form. If you are asked to provide an example of a time that you held a position of responsibility, describe what those responsibilities were and what your role involved.

Should candidates draw on their non-legal work experiences when applying to your firm?

Absolutely. Candidates shouldn’t assume that we are only looking for work experience in law firms. Other, diverse work experiences are relevant and important for us to know about when we read your application. Make sure that you think about the transferable skills that those roles involved.

Which practice areas are the real core of the firm’s business and will this change?

Every law firm is famous for something and V&E is known as a leading firm in the energy sector, so we would expect candidates to have some interest in that. The firm also has a strong reputation in M&A, capital markets, tax and private equity.

You can see a theme here – Vinson & Elkins is a corporate energy firm that is also very good at the various specialisms and disciplines that could be involved in all types of energy sector transaction. Our disputes practice (complex commercial litigation, or CCL as we call it) is also top tier and a real growth area for the business.

What is your dream job (other than this one!)?

I always wanted to be a pilot when I was growing up. I can fly a small Cessna but I wouldn’t sit next to me in the cockpit if I were you – I can get a bit carried away at the yoke, especially during bad weather!

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