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What is the most important when looking for a job at top firm ? watch

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    So, what are top firms most interested in ? University you graduated from, your grades (1st, 2:i, 2: ii, 3 ),your Extra Curricular Activities at university ? Or maybe something else ?
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    "Top firm" means different things to different people.

    If we are talking about Magic Circle, Silver Circle and high-end U.S. firms doing commercial/corporate law in the city, the university you graduated from and your grades are probably the most important thing by some way. Everyone has broadly the same kind of university background. Your interview technique and personality are very important as well, though I think this is less of a distinguishing feature between candidates: firms aren't going to take someone they don't feel they could put in front of a client. ECs are interesting interview chat, but seem to be secondary in my experience. ECs will assume much more importance for anyone with a non-traditional academic background.
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    (Original post by jacketpotato)
    "Top firm" means different things to different people.

    If we are talking about Magic Circle, Silver Circle and high-end U.S. firms doing commercial/corporate law in the city, the university you graduated from and your grades are probably the most important thing by some way. Everyone has broadly the same kind of university background. Your interview technique and personality are very important as well, though I think this is less of a distinguishing feature between candidates: firms aren't going to take someone they don't feel they could put in front of a client. ECs are interesting interview chat, but seem to be secondary in my experience. ECs will assume much more importance for anyone with a non-traditional academic background.
    I'm going to disagree with JP here, although he has more recent direct experience of the application process than I do.

    In my experience, good ECs are essential. Firms (at all levels) are looking for individuals who have the necessary skills to be a good potential lawyer. Those skills clearly include excellent intellectual abilities but also a whole host of other things.

    ECs are a good way of demonstrating that you have those skills. In my experience, I would have rather taken on a 2:i grad from an "average" university with stacks of interesting activities and experiences, than an Oxbridge grad with the same degree classification but nothing to talk about. Things may have changed - if so, I think firms are focussing on the wrong areas.
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    (Original post by chalks)
    I'm going to disagree with JP here, although he has more recent direct experience of the application process than I do.

    In my experience, good ECs are essential. Firms (at all levels) are looking for individuals who have the necessary skills to be a good potential lawyer. Those skills clearly include excellent intellectual abilities but also a whole host of other things.

    ECs are a good way of demonstrating that you have those skills. In my experience, I would have rather taken on a 2:i grad from an "average" university with stacks of interesting activities and experiences, than an Oxbridge grad with the same degree classification but nothing to talk about. Things may have changed - if so, I think firms are focussing on the wrong areas.
    I think you're right. ECs are definitely important and everybody should try to build their experiences as much as possible. My experiences did differ from firm to firm - in a couple of my interviews the partners were really interested in ECs, in one (Slaughters) they seemed completely disinterested.

    The point I'm trying to make is that in most circumstances you need a 2:1 or first from a decent uni to even get in the door. You can have all the ECs in the world, but if you don't have the degree and don't have at least AAB at A-level, you get screened out by the top firms before reaching the interview stage.
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    (Original post by jacketpotato)
    I think you're right. ECs are definitely important and everybody should try to build their experiences as much as possible. My experiences did differ from firm to firm - in a couple of my interviews the partners were really interested in ECs, in one (Slaughters) they seemed completely disinterested.

    The point I'm trying to make is that in most circumstances you need a 2:1 or first from a decent uni to even get in the door. You can have all the ECs in the world, but if you don't have the degree and don't have at least AAB at A-level, you get screened out by the top firms before reaching the interview stage.
    In which case I think we're in furious agreement! AAB and a 2:i are a given. But if you have those, and nothing else (even though you've been at Oxbridge), then you're going to struggle.

    Firms want to see who you are, what makes you tick, what sets you apart from other candidates, why you'll be the sort of person who can thrive in the challenging environment of a top City firm. A set of academic results doesn't tell them that.

    Likewise, I think you underestimate the impact of a candidate at interview. The old chestnut about interviewers making up their minds within the first minute or so has a lot of truth to it. Impressive achievements on a CV become largely irrelevant if the interviewee can barely string two words together, looks like they got dressed in the dark or have little presence or confidence when talking to a couple of partners.
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    (Original post by chalks)
    Likewise, I think you underestimate the impact of a candidate at interview. The old chestnut about interviewers making up their minds within the first minute or so has a lot of truth to it. Impressive achievements on a CV become largely irrelevant if the interviewee can barely string two words together, looks like they got dressed in the dark or have little presence or confidence when talking to a couple of partners.
    Sage advice :yes: I've come across a handful of applicants with scruffy teenage-style haircuts that I met at university, saw at firm presentations or saw waiting to go into interviews. I haven't seen anybody with a scruffy haircut at firm future joiner events or on my city-firm-only LPC. Applicants beware, get a haircut before your interview...
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    I like to come close to thinking that I challenge the jacket potato view.

    Academically, although decent university grades were an asset, I applied to firms with ABB whilst attending a redrbick. A number of people would be quick to say that applying to top City firms would be doable but a struggle for someone with my CV at the time, but I found that interviewing well, having a good commercial awareness, well-filled out application forms and some interesting extra-curriculars to talk about not only made up for average A levels, but hopefully set my application apart.

    This said, I was applying from 07-08 and perhaps it would be harder to make up for grades less than AAB with other attributes in this climate, where graduate selection is perhaps more ruthless.
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    (Original post by silence)
    I like to come close to thinking that I challenge the jacket potato view.

    Academically, although decent university grades were an asset, I applied to firms with ABB whilst attending a redrbick. A number of people would be quick to say that applying to top City firms would be doable but a struggle for someone with my CV at the time, but I found that interviewing well, having a good commercial awareness, well-filled out application forms and some interesting extra-curriculars to talk about not only made up for average A levels, but hopefully set my application apart.

    This said, I was applying from 07-08 and perhaps it would be harder to make up for grades less than AAB with other attributes in this climate, where graduate selection is perhaps more ruthless.
    Fair enough. To be fair, there is very little difference between ABB and AAB, I don't think firms are going to choose between candidates on the basis of a serious grade. That said, if you had BBC, then you might run into serious difficulty. I choose AAB as a benchmark because I noticed when applying for 2011 TCs that a handful of commercial firms wouldn't let you even fill in the application form if you didn't have AAB.
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    (Original post by Ivan Stanchev)
    So, what are top firms most interested in ? University you graduated from, your grades (1st, 2:i, 2: ii, 3 ),your Extra Curricular Activities at university ? Or maybe something else ?

    All 3! (Although if you are excellent in two of those areas, you are probably still in with a chance)

    The best thing is to go to a top 20-ish uni, have a good 2:1 or above grade average, and get some committee positions/get involved with things like the student newspaper, music or art societies, etc.

    They want to see that:

    a) You are intelligent, and have consistently worked hard and got good grades (and people at top unis tend to have better A-level grades, proving consistent achievement)
    b) that you are interested in other things besides academic work and are a normal person that gets on well with other people and doesn't spend all their time in the library

    Good luck! It might seem like a lot to manage but if you do things you enjoy it doesn't seem like an effort and your extracurriculars will actually be your reward for working so hard on your degree
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    How extensive do extracurriculars usually have to be? I mean, it's not like I have no life or anything, but I don't do all that much in terms of things outside of my degree apart from spending time with my friends watching films and going out and stuff. Do you actually need to play sport and join societies?
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    (Original post by Zoedotdot)
    How extensive do extracurriculars usually have to be? I mean, it's not like I have no life or anything, but I don't do all that much in terms of things outside of my degree apart from spending time with my friends watching films and going out and stuff. Do you actually need to play sport and join societies?
    See my posts above, and elsewhere on this topic.

    You need to demonstrate that you have the necessary skills to be a lawyer i.e. independence, determination, initiative, leadership, ambition etc etc. The way to demonstrate those skills is by reference to ECs. If you do nothing in your spare time then you will be unable to convincingly show law firms that you have those crucial abilities that they seek.

    What will you point to as evidence of those "lawyer" skills?
 
 
 
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