- Application deadline: 31st January for Vacation Schemes, 31st July for Training Contracts (online applications only)
- Starting salaries: £26,000 regions, £36,000 London
- Regions: Birmingham, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield
- Website: www.dlapiper.com
- Email: [email protected]
- Telephone: 020 7796 6677
DLA Piper LLP Victoria Square House Victoria Square Birmingham B2 4DL
What is DLA Piper?
What roles are available at DLA Piper?
Application process for DLA Piper.
Entry requirements and type of person suited for DLA Piper.
Future prospects and training at DLA Piper.
Other comments about DLA Piper.
If you have applied to DLA Piper, we would like you to hear from you. Please use the following form to detail your experiences of application, to aid those interested in following a similar career path.
Position applied for: Vacation Scheme
Year of Application: 2009
Educational Background: 13 GCSE's, 3 As at A Level, overall 2.1 in 1st and second year studying Law at a top 20 University
What were your experiences of the application process? The application form was relatively straightforward and easy to fill in. Once I had completed the form I received a confirmation email acknowledging receipt of my application. After the application deadline (31st Jan) had passed, I received an email inviting me to attend an interview at the firm's Leeds office. The interview was fairly laid back in comparison to other interviews I have attended, and lasted approximately 30 mins. The attendees were one member of Graduate Recruitment, and one Partner from the firm. Following attendance at this interview, I was offered a vacation scheme with the firm approximately 2 weeks later, by post.
What is it like working for DLA Piper? During my 2 weeks with the firm I was very impressed. From my research, I had come across lots of negative press about DLA and did not know what to expect. Upon arriving at the firm on my first day, I realised that the legal press and the realities of working for a firm are two completely different things. I really enjoyed my time at DLA, especially the very friendly staff; at all levels. There does not seem to be any real hierarchy, except obviously in situations requiring delegation of work. The overwhelming majority of employees seemed to enjoy their job and respect the firm. The tasks I completed during my placement gave me a much better insight into the work of the firm, and I felt as if I was actually contributing towards fee earning and client work.
How has it compared to your expectations? As DLA is such a massive global firm, I had expected to be one of many vacation scheme students and not to have staff take the time to get to know me. This was not the case at all. The staff are all very open, approachable and friendly and there is lots of cross-departmental socialising. Trainees especially seem to be a very close, tight knit group. I felt part of the team already, even after only being in the firm for 2 weeks, and did miss everyone I had met when I left after my placement.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years time? I am still going through the process of applying for training contracts; I have made all my applications for this season and have got a few interviews scheduled. Hopefully I will have some luck and be able to work for DLA, or another top regional player, as a trainee solicitor.
Finally, any advice you would give to potential applicants? Make sure you check, check and check your application! At interview, try and think of any possible questions that you may be asked and prepare suitable answers. Remember that your interviewers are people too; they're not that scary! Stay calm and be yourself; this applies to your time on the scheme too. The firm is looking for individuals who fit in with the culture and ethos of the firm, not clones who have no personality! Have fun!
Position applied for: Training Contract
Year of Application: 2012
Educational Background: 8A*s and 3As at GCSEs, 39/45 Points in the IB (589 UCAS); overall 2:1 (63%) and 1st (70%) in first- and second-years respectively at the LSE
What were your experiences of the application process?
The application is a multi-step process and I'll try to go through my experiences step-by-step:
1. Online Application: The online application was quite straightforward, no tricky questions really. There is the one though where DLA Piper asks you "to describe an unusual situation you were in, humorous or otherwise." I was later told by Grad Recruitment and this question is to see if you actually have a sense of humour (without going overboard). If they liked your answer to this question, and you met the other minimum criteria, you would probably get a 1st interview just based on it. No pesky online tests or anything after submitting the application.
2. Initial Interview: You will first be invited to an initial interview at DLA Piper, in the office you've applied to. I had mine in London with two partners in the Intellectual Property Department. Whom you get for your interview is determined on the day, so no point in calling in advance. You could get two partners, two HR Reps, or a mixture of the two; it depends entirely on who's available at the time. They ask you fairly basic questions that you should be prepared to answer: "Why law?" "Why commercial law?" "Why DLA Piper?" "Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?" And then some specific questions about your application and the information you've submitted. Be prepared to defend any claims made and any work experiences mentioned, they asked me to go through my entire work history.
They also ask about you as a person, general competency stuff: Your greatest achievement...Your proudest moment...How do you organise yourself? And then some situational questions: Client A asks for advice on something and you're the only person left at the office in your department, your partner is gone for the week and your supervisor is impossible to contact, the client is insistent that he needs the advice now! What would you do? The interview lasts 30-45 minutes and then you're given a tour of the office by an intern.
The interviewers were very nice and forthcoming, they spoke kindly and the atmosphere was very relaxed and I didn't feel on edge (much...). They did everything in their power to make me comfortable and I actually walked out of the room feeling light and confident (a first as far as I was concerned after some disastrous past interviews at other firms)
3. Assessment Centre: If they liked you at initial interview, you're asked to come in for an Assessment Centre. This takes up a large chunk of your morning, so have a big breakfast to stay alert! My Assessment had 4 parts to it:
(a) Case Study: You're given a case study, generally a statement of facts concerning a client that wants to instruct DLA Piper with regards to a particular business transaction. Mine had to do with Company X trying to merge with Company Y, Y being the proprietor of a world-famous Reality show (the equivalent of Britain's Got Talent/X-Factor). There are some issues regarding a former employee threatening to sue; the highest grossing singer of Y's recording label being a drunk and alleged substance abuser; and a further issue to do with the music industry going bust with online piracy. The case study was about 5-pages long and had about 5 questions at the end of it. You had to answer all 5 in about 45 minutes.
The trick with the case study is not to focus too much on law at all, but give common sense, business advice that seems like the obvious answer in all the relevant situations. The only way to actually get through the entire document in time and answer all the questions is to skim the main document once, then speed through the answers with sparse legal/factual details, and more reliance on arguments and reasoning. My best advice: Don't over-think it!
(b) Partner Interview: I then went into an interview that lasted about an hour and 15 minutes with two partners. Both from different departments. This interview was a repeat of the last one in terms of questions asked. They asked almost all the aforementioned questions from the initial interview again. There was a detailed discussion of my CV and work experiences, interests and activities, etc.
The only different question that arose was: "Where do you think the legal profession is heading?" I had read up on the topic. I talked about Dewey & Leboeuf going bankrupt; the sleuth of mergers that had occurred over the past two years since the crisis hit; and the severe downsizing almost across the board; how real estate practices have shrunk; and some of the emerging and most successful law firms, post-recession, are ones with massive debt recovery or similar practices (à la BLP). They seemed suitably impressed and one of them got into a discussion with me about my thoughts. It felt very much like a conversation rather than an interview really. Finally the other said, "You've clearly done your research and know about law firms; let's move onto your CV..." So yeah, the interview was a dream come true! A bit of a good cop/bad cop feel to it in the beginning, but overall, I think it degenerated (or evolved?) into a discourse 10-minutes in. Again, I walked out confident and happy with how I did.
(c) Proof-reading test: This was a 15-minute test, I think. It involved reading a 6-7 page contract and basically correcting all spelling, structural, numerical, and grammatical errors in the entire contract document. Anyone with a decent grasp of the English language and basic grammar rules will fly through this test in minutes. There are some tricky ones that you have to look for and that I wouldn't have found unless I went back and combed the contract for a second time, but overall, the easiest part of the day.
(d) Office Tour: A member of HR took me from my room and introduced me to a current trainee who took me on an office tour. In my case, the trainee wasn't much interested in the tour, we saw the top floor, the photocopying room, and then went straight to the canteen. Most of my 'tour' time was spent actually talking to her about her experience, the good and bad stuff, what she would like to change or have done differently during the training contract. It was very informative. I got her email address before I left and have been in touch with her ever since.
What is it like working for DLA Piper?
I haven't actually started working yet. But I have been in regular touch with a trainee in her third seat. She's found that the workload and level of responsibility given to trainees increases as they progress in their seats. From doing a lot of admin and photocopying in her first seat, she has gone onto a client secondment and is now handling some (smaller) cases independently in her third. There's also a lot of variety in terms of departments to have a seat in. The work environment is supposed to be fairly relaxed and laid back (though DLA Piper prefers 'open'), which is what initially attracted me to the place.
How has it compared to your expectations?
Well haven't much experience to compare it to, but I can say that I'm eager to start.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
Hopefully making it to Junior Partner if all goes well in the Media or IP departments.
Finally, any advice you would give to potential applicants?
I know this is cliché advice, but it really is the best: just be yourself...mostly. Do your research, know what the firm is up to. You don't (and shouldn't!) memorise every case and deal that the firm has concluded in the past 12 months, that is an utter waste of time. You would actually impress them more by saying that you have an interest in X department because of Y work experience and ask them more about it in the interviews. Keep your answers fairly simple, don't try and overdo it, unless they ask you to elaborate on things. Also, think of a really funny story for the online app question, it can land you an interview! But bear in mind you have 50 words (I think), so make sure it's a short, hilarious story!