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Meet the recruiter

Yohanna Wilson

Yohanna Wilson

Yohanna Wilson is the graduate recruitment and development manager at Weil. She is based in the London office and joined the firm in July 2020.

What is your favourite part of the job?

My favourite part of the job is meeting candidates on campus (virtually or in person). It’s great to see people apply for a vacation scheme and then secure a training contract. It’s not an easy journey, so making these job offers at the end of a vacation scheme is a pleasure.  

When does your firm run vacation schemes? Will it be in person or virtual?

We run two vacation schemes over the spring and summer holidays. There are 12 places on each scheme, and they will be taking place in person.  

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

While a vacation scheme is not a prerequisite to securing a training contract, we highly recommend that candidates apply via this route as we tend to recruit most of our trainees this way. Everyone who participates in a vacation scheme and performs well will be offered a training contract, creating a collaborative and friendly environment among our vac schemers.

What kind of work can candidates expect to experience during the vacation scheme?

A vacation scheme is a great way to experience first-hand what life is like as a trainee. You will have the chance to work alongside associates, carrying out real trainee tasks and responsibilities, allowing you to gain a greater insight into one of the firm’s practice areas. In terms of assessments, vac schemers participate in a negotiations exercise, a client pitch presentation and a partner interview. We also organise presentations, Q&A panels and several socials, helping vac schemers get to know the firm in a more relaxed setting.

How can candidates interact with the firm virtually?

For candidates looking to find out more about Weil, it has never been easier. We are hosting a series of virtual events on a variety of different topics throughout the autumn term. As well as developing commercial awareness, attendees will have the chance to meet our people, build their network and discover our firm culture. We will also be hosting several application and interview workshops ahead of the upcoming application season. To register to attend our virtual events, candidates can visit our website.

We have recently launched our virtual experience programme where candidates can complete some of the typical tasks a trainee would undertake in our private equity, banking and finance and restructuring teams. This is a great way for candidates to test the water to ensure that they are genuinely interested in the work of a lawyer. On the other hand, if you are sure a career in law is for you, it is a chance to demonstrate your interest and commitment to law and Weil when applying.

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

Our first set of trainees joining the firm via the SQE will start in 2024. We will require non-law students to complete the postgraduate diploma in law (PGDL), and we will be asking all future trainees to sit SQE1 and 2 upfront.

So simply put, if you’re a non-law student, you will complete two years of legal education before starting your qualifying work experience (QWE) with the firm. As a law student, you will complete one year of legal education before starting your QWE.

We will fully fund the PGDL and SQE preparation courses and exams and will continue to pay maintenance grants.

For students who are worried that they’ve already started the Graduate Diploma in Law or Legal Practice Course (LPC), we are still happy for you to apply for a vacation scheme or training contract. There will be a transitional phase where we will have a hybrid of SQE and LPC trainees. 

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

Yes, absolutely – all work experience is important. In light of the past 18 months, we encourage candidates to include virtual work experience and volunteering on their application form. We appreciate that the past year has been very different and there haven’t been the same opportunities on offer as in previous years.

How important is it for candidates to show they have researched the firm? What key things about your firm should any good candidate be able to talk about?

While the firm is known for its private equity work, candidates should also be able to talk about our well-known restructuring and finance teams. Despite our US-heritage, we also see ourselves as an international firm; we have an array of global offices, and most of our work is cross-border and international. The London office also brings in its own work but collaborates with the New York head office. Aside from this, it is worth researching the firm’s pro bono and diversity and inclusion work.

How did the firm adapt to covid-19?

I joined the firm in the middle of the pandemic, so the transition to remote working had already happened. Still, I understand from a logistical and technical point of view the switch was very smooth. The firm went above and beyond to ensure its people were looked after and supported from a wellbeing perspective. Several initiatives were introduced to keep employees connected, including a weekly tea break and team socials.

Will Weil be attending university virtual law fairs in the autumn term? What is your main objective when you go to a virtual law fair?

Most of our campus activity will be virtual this year, but we will be running in person insight days and diversity insight evenings. When attending law fairs and events, our main objective is to meet candidates, answer their questions, and help them understand if Weil is the right firm for them. Visit the firm website for more details.

Before speaking to Weil at a virtual law fair, how much should a candidate have researched the firm?

It is a positive thing if a candidate has had time to do some research. Equally, though, if you see Weil at a virtual law fair and want to come and chat, don’t be worried if you’re not overly prepared. Don’t overthink the process too much – it’s helpful to have a few questions in mind to help you compare firms, but we’d be happy to chat regardless.

What advice would you give to anyone interested in a career in law?

The legal profession is not an easy industry to get into – you have to really want to do it. I think it’s important for candidates to be realistic about the nature of this profession; you will experience intense, high-pressure work at whichever firm you join. I’d urge candidates to be sure that this is something they want to do. Go in with your eyes and mind open.

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

Ski instructor.