We spoke to Mark Gulliford, an associate in Real Estate, who has been actively involved with hosting a number of interviews for the summer vacation schemes at Slaughter and May. He has shared valuable top tips for any student looking to submit an application for our work experience schemes or looking to apply to a training contract here at the firm.

What are the most effective ways of increasing your chances of being accepted onto a Work Experience Scheme or Training Contract at Slaughter and May?

As lawyers, the vast majority of our “product” is the written word, whether in contracts or advice to clients. So take some time to write your application well. That absolutely does not mean you need to use long legal terms! We are much more interested in clear and concise writing that tells us something we don’t already know. A simple covering letter should explain why you are applying for this role at this firm. Your CV should give us the important information about your academic achievements, experience of work (whether legal or not – both are really valuable) and the things that sustain you outside of education and work. The last one is a really important one, not because we judge you on what your other interests are, but because success in this job requires some resilience and most people find that from interests outside their work.

Top tips for succeeding at an interview with Slaughter and May

Think about what you find most interesting or exciting about working at a corporate law firm and be ready to explain that. We value honesty: if you are applying for work experience it might be that you are not sure that you do want to be a lawyer and that’s fine – the scheme is partly to help you figure that out. But we want to hear from you why it is that you are exploring this career. If you are applying for a training contract, hopefully you are confident that this is the career for you, so we want to understand what drives you.

If you are invited to interview, we are already confident from your CV and application that you are a capable and talented individual who will cope with the academic part of the job (so well done!). But the interview is an important stage for us and for you to figure out whether the culture of the firm and nature of our work means that you will thrive here. One of the things we try to test in interview is your ability to cope with unfamiliar topics – we are interested in how you go about answering a question as much as (if not more than) your answer. Often it helps to take a pause before responding to a question, to gather your thoughts: don’t worry if it feels like a long silence to you!

The final tip is to listen. It can be really difficult in what is inevitably a slightly stressful experience to listen to what is being asked and respond to that, rather than to give the answers you’ve prepared. But if you are being asked a question it is because the interviewer really wants to know your answer to that question. The same is true when discussing a topic: sometimes the interviewers will suggest an alternative argument. Usually it will be fine to agree with that or to disagree with it, but the important thing is to engage with it.

Any piece of advice you would give to aspiring lawyers?

The law covers a very broad range of areas. Take some time to think about which parts of it really interest you, and what you will most enjoy in a career, but also keep an open mind - you might be surprised at the areas you most enjoy.

Interested in becoming a trainee solicitor? Visit the trainee recruitment section of our website.