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5 Minutes with Future Trainee, Beth Watkinson

What University did you attend?
Edinburgh University.

What subject are you studying?
I studied Law.

When do you join as a trainee?
August 2020.

How did you hear about Shearman & Sterling?
I first heard about Shearman & Sterling via word of mouth and various legal websites. I then attended an Open Day in November 2017.

What made you apply?
Shearman & Sterling offers a well-established training contract program with access to "first-of-its-kind" work. This teamed with a personable environment and a small trainee intake, allowing greater responsibility and fast development opportunities early on, put Shearman & Sterling as my first choice. The opportunity to spend a seat abroad also really appealed to me.

How did you approach the initial application form?
Someone once told me that you should be able to take away the firm’s name from your application and still be able to identify which firm you’re talking about. With this in mind, I gave myself plenty of time to properly research Shearman & Sterling before putting pen to paper.

I wanted to gain a clear understanding of why I wanted to apply to Shearman & Sterling as supposed to other city law firms and make my application as specific as possible. I primarily used the Shearman & Sterling Graduate Recruitment website which is such a helpful source of information for anyone thinking of applying.

Here, unlike some other firms, graduate recruitment has taken the time to upload blogs and videos which offer hints and tips into everything from whether you should apply for a vacation scheme or a training contract to what they’re looking for in a vacation scheme application.

What made Shearman & Sterling different to other firms?
The unique combination of high quality, global work typical of an elite US law firm but with a solid presence in the London legal market, a small trainee intake that offers greater responsibility, and a personable and supportive culture.

Did you do a Vacation Scheme and if so, what did you learn/enjoy?
I did the Winter Vacation Scheme, which I would highly recommend as, even as a vacation scheme student, you get to participate in all the Christmas festivities.

We were given the opportunity to learn about the firm’s core practice areas and chat to current trainees about their experiences at Shearman & Sterling during morning coffee presentations and Q&A sessions.

I thought the vacation scheme was a really personable experience; everyone at the firm has a genuine interest in getting to know you and are unbelievably generous with their time.

Shearman & Sterling also has these amazing cookies and at the end of the week we were all given a bag to take away.

What made you accept?
I really enjoyed my time on the vacation scheme; it confirmed all of my initial impressions of Shearman & Sterling that drove me to apply in the first place.

For me, the most important thing was how friendly and approachable everybody was. For example, my mentor in M&A patiently answered all of my questions and took the time out of his busy schedule to stay in touch once I had moved to a different practice area in my second week.

What advice would you give to others who are interested in Shearman & Sterling?
Be specific as to why you want to work for Shearman & Sterling.

There are so many incredible law firms in London, so why Shearman & Sterling and what makes you a good fit.

Apply early. Whilst you should give yourself enough time to properly write your application, I think an early application gives you a head start as well as showing dedication and a strong interest in Shearman & Sterling in particular.

I know it’s been said again and again but it shouldn’t lose its emphasis: proofread your application.

In terms of the dreaded “commercial awareness” questions, instead of a broad-brush approach I would recommend following the commercial press by honing in on a few key topics of interest to you. In an interview scenario this will allow you to feel more confident and speak in more detail.

by Beth Watkinson

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