Molly Garfoot visited the University’s Law Fair to speak to firms and students about pursuing a career in the legal sector

Written by Molly Garfoot
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Didn’t get chance to make it to The Law Fair this year? Not to worry, we went for you and asked employers exactly what it is that they’re looking for in applicants.

Lak Purewal: Head of HR Norton Rose Fulbright

We are a global law firm and we want to make sure that we reach as many high-quality students as we possibly can. Why Birmingham? Because it’s a fantastic university with a great reputation and a great Law School. I am impressed by curiosity, so not just the same old questions. I hope that students have done their research on Norton Rose Fulbright and the application process, so it’s deeper than just finding out stuff on the website or the brochure; what’s relevant? What’s topical?

'The biggest mistake is to think that every law firm is the same - that's a long way from the truth...'

Tori Graney: Trainee Solicitor Pinsent Masons

My advice for students going to careers fairs is don’t be shy! We’re not scary people, we were just in your position a couple of years ago. The careers fair is a massive opportunity to speak to current trainees because they can show you the personalities that law firms look for. I think the biggest mistake is to think that every law firm is the same – they’re not. The personality of the firms are very different, as are the areas they work in, and their strengths and weaknesses. My biggest go-to: get involved! Be more of a person than your degree, because at the end of the day all these law firms want a 2:1, it’s what else you bring to the table that they’re looking for.

Mark Cook: Partner Anthony Collins

We’ve enjoyed eyeballing the people here – we’ve met a number of students who we know would make a great application to us so it’s been a successful event for us in that context. If you want to make an impact on people’s lives in housing, education, public services, health and social care, then we’re the right people for you. Applicants need to be demonstrating that they have interests in wider society and they need to be passionate about issues. During the application, we ask people to pick a thing that has grabbed their attention recently and to write about that as a way of demonstrating their enthusiasm. A bit of spark, a bit of passion, a bit of curiosity – that’s what makes candidates stand out for us. The ability to communicate, the ability to stand on their own feet, the one’s who show a bit of personality with us, a bit of humour, a bit of normality as well… they’re great.

'A bit of spark, a bit of passion, a bit of curiosity - that's what makes candidates stand out...'

Katherine Burwood: Full seat trainee PwC

We are here today to spread the word about PwC Legal and what we’re doing. PwC is a young, fun firm and we’ve got a lot to offer. We are very different to other law firms in that we’re not just law, we have every profession. We are looking for enthusiastic, hard-working people, with a good natural business acumen. We’ve had loads of really good people who have come to PwC from Birmingham, such as Paul Batchelor, a senior manager in our Birmingham office.

Abbie Metcalf: Recruitment Administrator Hogan Lovells

Hogan Lovells have 60 trainees a year, so we organise a lot of social events. We know that it’s a new environment and it’s probably a challenging time for them, so building networks with other trainees helps. Our applicants need strong academics, that goes without saying, but also we do look for a lot more. We want really well-rounded people, so obviously you need a lot of legal experience, being part of the law society or a debating society. Commercial awareness is an important factor for us – being able to understand what clients need and that comes from understanding business. We know that there’s a good calibre of students here and we do recruit from Birmingham every year.

Ambika Sharma: Trainee Anthony Colllins 

Birmingham has really good links with the College of Law and University of Law to do the LPC, which is where I found out about Anthony Collins. It was really nice to have that familiarity so that I knew what I had to do to get to that final step, the training contract, which is the hard bit when you’re concentrating on your degree.