If you want to know about applications, vacation schemes and law firms then take a look at Lizzie’s tips on applying to Weil
What really stands out in an application form?
Writing a stand-out application for a vacation scheme or training contract takes a lot of time and commitment - the research that goes into it is extensive. The best applications are very well researched and tailored specifically to Weil. You will need to demonstrate a strong understanding of our key practice areas, deals that we have been involved in, and the skills required to be a strong trainee solicitor. You will also need to explain why Weil’s culture appeals to you. If possible, try and connect with Weil prior to submitting your application. The best way to do this is through insight days, application workshops, and practice area presentations. Keep an eye on our website to find out more about upcoming events and presentations. It is great to read about how people have learnt more about the firm as it shows your commitment to starting your legal career at Weil. It really is worth investing time in the initial application stage of the process to give yourself the best chance of being progressed to the next stage of the process.
What criteria do you mark candidates against in job applications?
One of the most important things is your written communication skills and attention to detail. We expect clearly written and concise prose for each of your answers, and of course, your application must be completely free of grammatical errors and typos. Make sure that you ask a friend or family member to proof read your application before you submit it to help identify any mistakes you might have missed. As well as strong attention to detail, we’re looking for candidates with excellent academics, strong business acumen, and a genuine commitment to a career in commercial law. The graduate recruitment team were especially supportive and planned fun activities during the scheme. There were a number of opportunities to interact with associates and partners at the firm who were friendly and always willing to share their experiences. Observing how the lawyers in my team worked together and interacted with one another confirmed that I could expect a supportive work environment at Weil.
What kind of extra-curricular activities impress you on an application?
Commercial law combines the two worlds of law and business and therefore having a strong interest in commercial affairs is important. Therefore, we’re looking for candidates that are curious about how businesses operate, and furthermore, the social, economic, and political factors that affect law firms and their clients. I would encourage candidates to put a couple of hours aside each week to read up the news and what is going on in the world - really try and prioritise this in weeks leading up to drafting applications or preparing for an interview. Having a genuine interest in the topics you’re researching will make your application answers more informed and compelling, so do in-depth research on deals or clients that really catch your attention. Commercial awareness can be difficult to demonstrate in an application, so we tend to assess commercial awareness more rigorously in interviews.
How can those on vacation schemes stand out?
The vacation scheme is a great way to get a taste for what life as a trainee at Weil would be like. The most important part of a vacation scheme is your attitude - you need to be proactive and enthusiastic. With our small trainee intake and lean deal teams, trainees are an integral part of the firm, and during the vacation scheme we get you involved in trainee level tasks. Your contribution during the scheme is important and we want you to demonstrate that you can step up to the challenge. Offer to help people in the team that you are in and willingly take on work. You might find that some of these tasks are unfamiliar to you, or might appear daunting, but we are looking for people that are keen learners and are receptive to feedback. At a firm like Weil, you really are ‘in the spotlight’ - you get a lot of responsibility as a trainee.
Beyond this, always arrive to be on time for meetings, assessments, and informative sessions that graduate recruitment have arranged during the scheme. Make sure you bring a notepad and pen with you, listen carefully to everyone that speaks to you, and where necessary, make notes. Finally, be yourself. We understand that it can be a busy two weeks, but do try and enjoy yourself. Join social events, network with people at the firm, and let your true personality come across during the scheme.
How do you assess vacation scheme students?
Throughout the vacation scheme we hold a number of assessments, some that you complete in a group and others that you complete individually. Alongside your fellow vacation scheme participants, you take part in a client pitch exercise where you need to pitch Weil’s legal services to a fictional potential client. You also take part in a negotiation exercise, which assesses your teamwork, verbal communication, and commercial awareness. To assess your written communication, you are asked to complete a research project which requires you to produce a memo for a pro bono client. On top of these assessments, you also do real live work for the team that you’re working in. Towards the end of the scheme, we will ask you to send us a list of your work providers, who we will reach out to for feedback on your work and general performance throughout the two weeks. You will be given all of the tools that you need to complete these tasks to the expected standard; you will receive IT training, research training, and will be given thorough instructions. However, if you are struggling with any of the assessments, you can always ask people for some guidance to help steer you in the right direction.
How can people make up for the fact that they haven’t done any work experience at a law firm?
We do not expect applicants to have work experience at a law firm before they do a vacation scheme. We understand that the vacation scheme might be your first time stepping foot in a law firms offices. However, a good way to increase your understanding of what lawyers do and the kind of work you might encounter during a vacation scheme is to check out virtual work experience programmes. We offer a virtual experience programme through Forage which allows you to gain hands-on experience of the type of tasks a trainee would get involved in while working in our Private Equity, Finance and Restructuring teams.
Furthermore, once you are on the vacation scheme, do not be afraid to ask questions. Not only does it demonstrate that you are curious and inquisitive about the work that the lawyers are involved in, but you will quickly start picking up the language and acronyms that lawyers use. The vacation scheme is a two-way process - it is just as much an opportunity for you to learn about us as it is for us to learn about you.
How can somebody make the right impression at a law fair?
Law fairs, both in-person and virtual, are a great way to speak to multiple law firms and also develop your understanding of what different firms can offer you throughout a training contract. Before you attend, do your research on the firms that you want to learn more about. Going into a law fair without any understanding of different firms can be overwhelming. Furthermore, you will not be able to genuinely demonstrate your enthusiasm to the law firm representatives if you have done no prior research and cannot think of any questions to ask. Come prepared with questions that are going to help you determine whether Weil is somewhere you can see yourself working. Law fairs are also a really good way to find out about the culture of a law firm, so ask firm representatives about their career path and their personal experiences at the firm. Try to avoid questions that you can very easily find the answers to online, like application date windows. If you do attend virtual law fairs and virtual events, be conscious of online meeting etiquette. Keep your webcam on, mute yourself when you’re not speaking, and engage with the speakers.
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