5 Minutes with Holly Smith, Future Trainee
12th March 2018
What University did you attend?
I studied Physical Geography at Durham University, and then went on to do the GDL at BPP in Manchester, graduating in the Summer of 2017.
What subject are you studying?
I am currently working as paralegal at another City law firm.
When do you join as a trainee?
I will be joining Shearman & Sterling in August 2019.
How did you hear about Shearman & Sterling?
I first heard about Shearman & Sterling on Facebook by watching the videos they had posted.
What made you apply?
I really wanted to apply after attending an open day at the firm’s offices which involved listening to a series of presentations and networking with individuals from the firm afterwards. I was impressed by the breadth of the work the trainees were getting involved in, as well as the graduate recruitment team who clearly had a very strong rapport with the young lawyers at the firm.
Furthermore, the international aspect of the work carried out in London, as well as the opportunity to complete a sixth month secondment overseas was another great benefit of the firm.
How did you approach the initial application form?
I researched the firm in depth using sources from the internet, including the firm’s website, Facebook and Twitter as well as information I picked up from attending an open day.
Whilst the content of my answers took time to perfect, I spent just as much time structuring them so they were well punctuated and included sufficient spacing to be inviting and attractive to read.
I was also keen to give examples of how I was meeting the key competencies the firm required; instead of simply describing desirable attributes I demonstrated how I had put them into practice.
What made Shearman & Sterling different to other firms?
The firm’s desire for continued success and the support of its people during the process differentiated the firm for me. The firm is working on the most complex deals in the City and is hungry to stay ahead of the competition. Its people are passionate to achieve this, encouraging a collaborative and aligned working culture.
Did you do a Vacation Scheme and if so, what did you learn/enjoy?
I did the Winter Vacation Scheme in 2017, where during the two weeks, I sat in the Financial Institutions Advisory (FIA) and Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A) teams. I was asked to help with current work, from researching the MiFID II Regulation in FIA to drafting a non-disclosure agreement in M&A. The associates as well as the trainees I worked with were always keen to answer any questions I had or simply read through a first draft I produced.
A presentation was given by the core practice groups throughout the two weeks which gave insight into the firm’s strengths and specialisms. These interactive sessions encouraged us to ask questions and learn about the expectations of a trainee across the different teams. The trainees themselves also conducted sessions where we could understand their own route into working at Shearman & Sterling and what they had experienced to date, which was very useful as a candidate at the time.
Finally, the size of the intake on a vacation scheme (10 people) was conducive to getting to know everyone and settling into day to day life at the firm. There were also a series of social events put on for us, from departmental drinks, table tennis to even a cookery class, which for students and recent graduates was very welcome!
What made you accept?
Unlike some horror stories you hear about training contract interviews across the City, at Shearman & Sterling I instantly felt that I was in an environment which encouraged me to perform at my best. From the beginning of the application process I felt truly appreciated by the firm as a candidate. The firm has been candid about the challenging nature of a career at a first-rate City firm, however they have been equally as open about the guidance and support they are willing to offer at the same time.
What advice would you give to others who are interested in Shearman & Sterling?
I would encourage others to attend an open day or an on-campus presentation, and invest the time to understand whether Shearman & Sterling is a place which is attractive to them. These events are a fantastic opportunity to get a real-life insight from lawyers currently working at the firm and to get to know the graduate recruitment team personally.