From October 2014 – January 2015 I’ve been able to attend talks at Kaplan Law School, held by a variety of law firms; these included a commercial awareness event with Mayer Brown, an interview skills session with Shearman & Sterling, and talks with Kennedys, Irwin Mitchell, Mills & Reeve, Trowers & Hamlins, Clyde & Co and McMillan Williams. Generally, such talks are only open to current students, but Kaplan does it differently – which I’m immensely thankful for. Anybody can apply to attend, whether they’re a current Kaplan student or not – and I’d strongly encourage you to do so. They’ve helped me secure a winter vacation scheme, despite my disadvantageous position (I’m currently studying a non-law undergraduate degree, and come from a non-law background), and I’ve no doubt they’ll help you too.
The events themselves were great to take part in; as a current non-law undergrad, the Mayer Brown commercial awareness session was a fantastic way for me to familiarise myself with concepts such as the SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) and PESTLE (Political, Economic, Socio-cultural, Technological, Legal and Environmental) analyses, and to be able to work effectively and give a presentation in a group structure – something which university’s more individual-focused learning style gives less preparation for.
The Shearman & Sterling interview skills session likewise allowed me to gain valuable tips about presenting myself at interview, including things like the correct etiquette (e.g. never turning up more than 15 minutes early for an interview), which are vitally important but which can’t really be gleamed from academic study or research. And I learnt a lot about other soft skills – such as ensuring you come across as presentable and confident, and the importance of speaking slowly and succinctly. And the talks by Kennedys, Irwin Mitchell, Mills & Reeve, Trowers & Hamlins, Clyde & Co and McMillan Williams were also great opportunities to network with graduate recruiters and trainees; the chance to speak to people with first-hand knowledge of these firms was invaluable.
The talks also lead to a number of different opportunities. After speaking to graduate recruiter Katie Meer at the Shearman and Sterling talk, I became aware of their annual ‘Women in Law’ conference. I also learnt that attendance was now open to men, and strongly encouraged to attend – I did so, and ended up writing an article on the topic which impressed Shearman so much that they published it on LawCareers.net. I was also able to speak to various graduate recruiters about several of the projects I’m involved with, including Great With Disability, Access Professions and the Elimination of Domestic Violence Youth Council, which I wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise.
And the skills I picked up from these events helped me when I was invited to a Hogan Lovells assessment centre in November 2014. I was careful to apply the interview and commercial awareness tips I’d picked up, and as a result managed to secure a highly competitive winter vacation scheme (I was one of only 15 participants). Now I’m applying for spring and summer vacs and training contracts, and I’m confident these skills will help me further.
So keep an eye on the Kaplan site, and the next time talks like these arise, I’d strongly recommend you to apply. What’s more, if you’re looking for a GDL or LPC provider, why not give Kaplan a try? That way, you’ll also be able to gain from the school’s bespoke careers advice and attend their students-only events. Kaplan also boasts impressive statistics when it comes to training contracts – so it’d be a great choice to make!