I spent my first week in the corporate department and the second in litigation. I experienced interesting work, including drafting correspondence to a pro bono client and due diligence for an acquisition. There were also great social activities – including climbing the O2 Arena, which was a bit like climbing a giant, very high-up trampoline! The World Cup was also on and we watched one or two matches in the firm’s games room – the casual nature of the social events was a great way to get to know people at the firm.
I gained a much more in-depth understanding of the firm and its culture than I was able to through research alone. I was introduced to the major practice areas of the office through meetings with partners from departments including M&A, corporate, finance and technology transactions. We also had the opportunity to have a meeting with the managing partner for Europe who discussed the firm’s long-term vision in Europe and shared his views on MoFo’s values as well as the importance of diversity and pro bono work. More informally, everyone at the firm made an effort to reach out to me to discuss how I had found the scheme or to get me involved in their work by inviting me to meetings and calls. I felt this highlighted both the value the firm places on trainees its collaborative culture.
Personally, the most enjoyable aspect of the scheme was being introduced to a partner who specialises in data privacy and being able to work on challenging work for her throughout the scheme. Data privacy was the subject of my dissertation, so it was brilliant to talk to an expert in the field, even though I wasn’t assigned to that department during the scheme – my supervisor had found out that I was interested and put me in touch with the partner. The biggest challenge for me was the research task that we were set at the start of the scheme as I had to manage my time between that task and other assignments. However, we were not just thrown in without any guidance – there was a specific training session on legal research, and we were also able to ask questions throughout the task. At the end of the project, I was much more comfortable with taking on assignments outside of my comfort zone.
There was not a formal interview at the end of the placement. We were told at the start that the firm would assess candidates throughout the scheme by collecting feedback from those we worked with and how we performed in the research task. I met the graduate recruitment team at the end of the scheme for an informal discussion about what I had enjoyed, found challenging and so on.
Be as confident as you can. It can be intimidating entering a law firm as a student, but you will gain so much more from the experience by being enthusiastic and proactive. Don’t be worried about making mistakes, but if you do ensure that you ask for feedback and show that you can take that feedback on board throughout the scheme.