Interested in a future career as a lawyer? Use The Beginner’s Guide to a Career in Law to get started
Find out about the various legal apprenticeships on offer and browse vacancies with The Law Apprenticeships Guide
Information on qualifying through the Solicitors Qualifying Exam, including preparation courses, study resources, QWE and more
Discover everything you need to know about developing your knowledge of the business world and its impact on the law
The latest news and updates on the actions being taken to improve diversity and inclusion in the legal profession
Discover advice to help you prepare for and ace your vacation scheme, training contract and pupillage applications
Your first-year guide to a career in law – find out how to kickstart your legal career at this early stage
Your non-law guide to a career in law – everything you need to know about converting to law
Jessica Thurgood (she/her) is the graduate resourcing specialist at White & Case. She's based at the London office and has been at the firm for two years and has worked in legal graduate recruitment for almost six years.
I really enjoy the events we run, whether it’s a vacation scheme, on campus event or virtual panel. In particular I enjoy the international events we host. They enable attendees to see and hear about the global nature of the firm, and how that impacts on collaboration between teams, practice groups and offices. I’m also always in awe of the diversity of people, thought and initiatives across the firm – the innovation of the firm’s people is always centre stage.
We run vacation schemes every winter, spring and summer, with up to 25 students taking part in each scheme. Our winter scheme is targeted at final-year undergraduates and graduates, and our spring and summer schemes are open to second-year undergraduates as well.
For first-year students, of any degree discipline, we run two specific first-year insight schemes that take place annually in May.
We’ll be running a mix of virtual and in-person events over the upcoming recruitment season. We’re excited to have been able to increase our number of careers dinners and skills sessions. We will, however, be continuing with virtual sessions as well to ensure we promote inclusivity and access wherever attendees find themselves.
We hope that across our various events candidates can gather insight and understanding as to what it’s like to work at White & Case, get to know our people and initiatives, and build on their own skills ahead of making applications and entering into recruitment processes.
We ask candidates to keep an eye on our website for event details.
In comparison to the Legal Practice Course, the SQE covers a reduced curriculum; at White & Case we are able to complement the minimum requirements with our own extended curriculum, the quality of the learning experience and exposure to extend knowledge.
The firm has appointed The University of Law to work with us to create a tailored training and development programme aligned to our business needs. Our first cohort of trainees start on this new pathway from September 2023.
Choosing whether to commit to a training contract with a firm is a big decision and a vacation scheme gives both the candidate and the firm a chance to see if they’re the right fit for each other. For that reason, we recruit the majority of our trainees from the winter, spring and summer schemes. We do however understand that for a variety of reasons individuals may be unable to undertake a vacation scheme with us, for example if they’re in full-time employment or have parental or caring responsibilities. Therefore, we also have a direct training contract recruitment process for candidates who are unable to attend a scheme with us.
We’re looking for several key skills in candidates when they apply to the firm, and these go much further than the academic requirements we have in place. We consider mitigating circumstances, use the Rare Contextual Recruitment System to allow us to look at every application in context and holistically, and are looking for evidence of individuals who:
We ask candidates to submit a cover letter as part of the online application form, which is a brilliant opportunity for applicants to concisely explain their interest in law, relevant skills, and – crucially – that they understand the firm and how we’re different to our competitors.
Unfortunately, not all candidates understand the importance of the cover letter and we still receive many generic cover letters. If you can replace ‘White & Case’ with the name of one our competitors in a cover letter and it still works, you haven’t tailored your application enough and are missing out on the chance to show us why you’re interested in White & Case specifically.
At the same time, we’re not looking for candidates to list as many deals or transactions as they can within the cover letter, we want to be able to identify why a particular deal or transaction is of interest to the candidate – how does it align with their interests?
Yes, all experience is relevant and we encourage candidates to talk about the jobs and placements they have done – we’re interested in the journey you’ve been on to get to where you are now. The attributes we’re looking for are not exclusive to law, so there are lots of ways that candidates can demonstrate their transferable skills.
This is particularly relevant to career changers, previous careers and work experience should not be disregarded, rather think about how the experiences have already begun to develop the skills we’re looking for.
When it comes to demonstrating commercial awareness in an application form or interview, this isn’t something that you can prepare for overnight or in a couple of weeks of cramming. It’s about having a real interest in the business world in which we as a law firm operate, and finding the right format in which you gather this knowledge. This involves:
We run an assessment centre for direct training contract applicants only. Successful candidates reach this stage after the online application form, a video interview and telephone interview. During the assessment centre candidates undertake a written assessment, face-to-face interview with a member of the graduate resourcing and development team and an associate, plus an interactive group assessment.
There’s an opportunity to relax and network with our trainees and the other candidates during lunch – a perfect opportunity to get to know our trainees and to ask plenty of questions. Successful candidates are then invited to an interview with two partners, incorporating a commercial presentation element.
For the vacation scheme, the assessment process begins with the online application, followed by a video interview, face-to-face interview and written task. Assessment of candidates is then ongoing during the vacation scheme, with the same tasks undertaken as a direct applicant would during an assessment centre, and the interview with two partners taking place during the second week of the scheme.
One of the questions we’re often asked is: “how do I make my application stand out?” This is fine to ask, but it is also explained clearly on our website and other recruitment resources. That kind of generic question will get a fairly generic answer from one of the firm’s representatives, but a student will gain more from an interaction with us if they have tailored questions to ask, such as about a certain practice area, one of our diversity networks or our guaranteed overseas seat that forms part of the training programme. Specific questions are also more memorable for the recruiter further down the line when you come to apply.
We’ll be attending many network law fairs, university panels and running skills sessions, so candidates have access to a variety of information gathering events before coming to speak to us or taking part in one of our assessments.
There’s an element of self-selection that all candidates should do. Individuals first need to thoroughly research the profession and decide that it’s the right career for them. The next stage should be to research different firms in detail as they are all different, but these differences are not always initially obvious. For example, the guaranteed overseas seat at White & Case is hugely appealing to many people, but it’s not necessarily right for everyone.
The best way to find the right fit for you is to attend events, whether virtual or physical, such as law fairs and insight days to have meaningful conversations with people from law firms – if you can picture yourself working alongside them, that’s a positive sign. We offer opportunities to do just that from a candidate’s first year at university, through every stage to graduate level.
Walking my dog Billy is my favourite thing to do before and after work. Whether it’s to the local park, woods or fields it’s the best way for me to prepare for a busy day and then switch off afterwards. I also enjoy a workout in the morning to energise me for the day, and a run after work – but only when the weather is nice!