How to start researching a firm

Shoosmiths application form is open for you to apply for an insight evening, and will shortly open it’s application form for placements and training contracts too. With that comes the questions about knowing where to start when researching a firm before submitting an application. Amy shares her advice on why *here* is the best place to start!

What's your type?

Before frantically filling in as many application forms as possible and firing them off to law firms, it is really important to take a step back and do your research first. From my experience, when it comes to making applications, quality is far superior to quantity.

Every law firm has its own personality and it is vital to understand which one is the right fit for you. When faced with the challenge of writing up a shortlist of firms to apply to, a good place to start (and one where I personally started) is LawCareers.Net; websites like this one provide a useful snapshot of firms by providing an overview of comparable information such as location, salary, areas of specialism etc. As well as this, legal directories such as Legal 500, Lex 100 and The Training Contract & Pupillage Handbook also provide an independent insight into a firm’s ranking in different practice areas, their clients and even quotes from current trainees, which can be invaluable. When considering which firms stand out, it helps to consider what type of firm appeals to you. For instance, there are large corporate global firms (such as DLA Piper), well established national firms (such as Shoosmiths) or smaller high street firms. Each are vastly different from one another and therefore making this decision in itself will narrow your search down quite significantly.

Less is definitely more

Once you have narrowed down a shortlist of firms which appeal to you, I would recommend starting your research into each of these by looking at firms’ own websites. Some firms even have specific mini-sites devoted solely to recruitment, or a downloadable brochure or handbook. A firm’s website is where you will find things such as press releases, opinion pieces or blogs about areas of law the firm is active in, an insight into the way in which the firm divides itself, i.e. by department or by key client sectors and any information about community or charitable activities the firm is involved in.

Alongside this, social media can be a really useful tool to get to know law firms and the key people that work at them. Twitter, in particular, is a great place to get objective opinions on a firm; I would recommend following the firms that are of most interest to you to keep up to date with any deadlines and any legal updates they publish which you could draw into your application further down the line. Law firm graduate recruitment accounts are also well worth following.

Are they right for you?

You will find that almost all law firms say much the same thing about themselves, i.e. leading firm, client focused, etc., but they don’t all say it in the same way. I would advise spending as much time as possible really getting to grips with what is important to each of your short-list firms and what makes them unique. That way, you can make a true judgement of those which are the best fit for you. As well as this, have a look at who its main clients are, what type of work it does and what type of person the firm might be looking for.

Whilst there is often a temptation to make as many applications as possible, bear in mind that you are unlikely to be successful in any of those applications unless your passion for any given firm really shows through. When I did my research into Shoosmiths, its values and approach to working really resonated with me and sparked my passion to train with the firm; this passion shone through far beyond my academics and work experience during the application process and was ultimately what led to me obtaining a training contract.

Get your glad rags on

Once you have conducted your research, insight evenings are the perfect way to get a good, initial look at a firm before making your application. Events like these are geared around allowing students to understand a firm, what they do and what makes them different from other law firms. They are normally organised by a firms graduate recruitment team and provide ample opportunity to ask questions of and mingle with associates, trainees, future trainees and even partners. After narrowing down my shortlist of firms (Shoosmiths was at the top), the first interaction that I had with Shoosmiths was at one of its insight evenings.

After attending an event, spend some time thinking about what you have heard and, put together with your own research, decide whether you want to apply to the firm in question. If you do decide to apply, remember to include the event on your application; whilst things like law fairs are a great means of finding out more information about a law firm, attending events like insight evenings shows a sustained interest over months or even years to a firm and its importance should, therefore, not be overlooked.

If you'd like to find out more about Shoosmiths, apply to attend an insight evening, the deadline for applications is midnight on 30 November 2018. You’ll hear the outcome of your application during December or January.

The insight evenings are being held at these office locations on the following dates:

 Date Location 
 Tuesday 15 January 2019  Milton Keynes
 Thursday 17 January 2019  Birmingham
 Wednesday 23 January 2019  Thames Valley
 Thursday 24 January 2019  Southampton
 Tuesday 29 January 2019  Manchester
 Wednesday 30 January 2019  Leeds
 Thursday 7 February 2019  Edinburgh
 Tuesday 12 February 2019  Nottingham

You may also be interested in reading "The Art of Networking” by Jennifer Gibbs, or "Awesome application advice" by Kiran Chatha, or watching our latest advice videos.

If you have any specific questions, you can contact the graduate recruitment team via email.

Click here to read more posts on the Shoosmiths careers blog.


This information is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given. Please contact us for specific advice on your circumstances. © Shoosmiths LLP 2024.



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