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5 minutes with Matthew Adesina
What university did you attend?
The University of Cambridge.
What subject are you studying?
I am currently studying the LPC at the University of Law, having studied the GDL at BPP University and Classics at undergraduate level.
When do you join as a trainee?
How did you hear about Shearman & Sterling?
I first found out about Shearman & Sterling after reading their entry on the Chambers Student website.
What made you apply?
The size and scale of work that Shearman & Sterling do appealed to me as it is global and often involves coordination between the various offices around the globe. This puts into perspective the complexity of multi-jurisdictional work and the collective effort required to achieve the best outcomes for clients. The multi-jurisdictional nature of the work also means that there is ample opportunity to travel and work at other offices around the globe, both during the training contract and as a qualified solicitor. This allows you to forge great relationships with colleagues not only in London, but also in different regions of the world, and again gives you a chance to appreciate first-hand the complexity and scale of the work.
How did you approach the initial application form?
I looked at the questions that needed to be answered on the application form and then began to do the research. As well as using the more well-known resources such as Chambers Student, Legal Cheek and the Shearman & Sterling Graduate Recruitment website, I tried to find information in the less obvious sources. I used my university’s access to the Financial Times to find in-depth articles on deals that I had read about on the firm’s website, which gave me a greater understanding of the mechanics behind them, the role that Shearman & Sterling played and also any challenges that might have arisen. I was able to then demonstrate this knowledge on the application form. I felt that I would set myself apart from other candidates if I could use material that was hard to find and showed that I had obviously undertaken a lot of research.
I also made sure that I wrote succinctly. This is so important as Graduate Recruitment have thousands of applications to read through, so it is imperative that your writing says a lot in as few words as possible.
What made Shearman & Sterling different to other firms?
Shearman & Sterling expanded to London much earlier than other US firms, which means that the firm is much more established in this region compared to its US competitors. This has meant that the London office has been able to develop an excellent domestic client base, acting for clients such as ICE Benchmark Administration. The result of this is that the London office does not at all feel like a satellite office that only supports work from the US, but rather a core part of Shearman & Sterling’s global network which also develops its own substantial stream of market-leading work. This, coupled with the small trainee intake, rewards trainees with a very unique experience that gives them a high level of responsibility with a wide variety of work.
Furthermore, the firm has a higher number of UK partners than almost every other US firm. This shows that there are good opportunities for career progression at the firm, something that encourages staff and leads to a better work environment.
Did you do a Vacation Scheme and if so, what did you learn/enjoy?
Sadly not, as it was due to take place right at the start of the coronavirus pandemic. This was unfortunate as the vacation schemes are an excellent way to find out more information about the firm first-hand, and they provide you with good practical experience. To compensate for this, I made sure to attend various online presentations that Graduate Recruitment hosted during this period. This gave me further insight into life at the firm and also the sort of qualities Shearman & Sterling look for in prospective candidates.
What made you accept?
The commitment that Graduate Recruitment has to inform candidates honestly about life at the firm through their presentations, blog and on-campus events showed me that the firm is honest and transparent about what they expect from their trainees. This is shown especially by the ten competencies which are used to assess candidates and which serve as a standard to which trainees should aspire once they join the firm. I was encouraged by the fact that there are specific metrics by which to measure your work and so help you focus on ways in which you can improve your performance. These reasons, coupled with the ones I have written above on why I applied, made it a very easy choice.
What advice would you give to others who are interested in Shearman & Sterling?
Make sure that you have researched the work the firm does thoroughly. There are plenty of resources on the Graduate Recruitment blog which explain the different practice areas in excellent detail and easy-to-understand terms. Also, make sure you watch the Whiteboard Wednesday videos, as they cover topics which are slightly harder to gain information on from other sources.
Finally, do not sell yourself short, both at the application stage and at interview. Be confident in discussing your strengths.