The National Careers Service Inspiration team facilitated a workplace visit to the London offices of law firm Clifford Chance. 22 students in Years 12 and 13 and one member of staff member from Burntwood School, London Borough of Wandsworth, visited their London office in Canary Wharf.
The aim of the day was to introduce the students to careers in the legal sector, to provide an overview of other non-legal roles at Clifford Chance and to offer insight into a corporate working environment.
What Prospects did
The day was arranged to enable the students to gain the maximum benefit. The morning featured a careers carousel; tour of the office and facilities; and graduate recruitment session and activity.
The careers carousel involved two trainee solicitors, a senior information office and internal communications coordinator. The students broke into four groups with each group spending time with each of the professionals. Students learned half of the roles at Clifford Chance are non-legal and encompass a very wide variety of activities and skills. The professionals described their current roles, their career journeys to date and their day to day activities. The session concluded with a question and answer session, providing students with insights into the different roles and contrasts between the opportunities available.
Students toured the Clifford Chance offices to see the extensive facilities available to employees. These included a full facility fitness centre, including swimming pool, hairdressers, dry cleaning and restaurant. The host explained that these facilities were available because of the very demanding working conditions at a global corporation. Employees often work very long hours and may have to adjust these to work with international clients in different time zones.
Students then met a Clifford Chance recruitment specialist who explained the different law specialisms at the company, routes into working in law and the types of skills and qualities that the company requires of its employees. This was followed by an interactive exercise to encourage students to consider the competencies and skills required for different roles and how they may be able to evidence these. Students wrote down the competencies needed for the jobs they were interested in, for example, law, marketing and finance. The recruitment specialist collated these and showed the key competencies required by Clifford Chance in a word cloud.
In four groups, the students were then asked to identify competencies required in four different scenarios: playing for a local football team, volunteering for a local charity, playing the violin in an orchestra and working part-time in a supermarket. These were all identifiable scenarios for the students. The recruitment specialist asked students to consider how they could evidence these competencies from their current experiences and explained how to present these in an interview situation; describe situation, task and result.
Outcomes and results
At the end of the session, the National Careers Service Partnership Careers Adviser summarised the variety of careers available in a large corporation, the flexibility of career paths and the importance of being able to articulate core competencies from your own experiences.
The event provided students with an opportunity to:
- meet and question legal and other professionals face to face
- find out which skills are valuable to employers in large corporations
- explore the various roles within a legal firm, including non-legal roles
- find out about the flexibility of career paths, how these can often change and how skills are transferrable between roles
- learn about the different routes to becoming a lawyer
- experience first-hand the working environment of a large international law firm, including the demands of long working hours and working across different time zones
- learn about competency based interviews and how they can use their current activities and experiences to articulate their own competencies
Among this cohort of students there was a genuine interest in working in law or within a corporate environment. Most of the students had already started research into the sector and almost all of them were planning to go into higher education. They asked relevant questions, engaged very well in the careers carousel and remained focussed and engaged throughout the session.
Meeting employees engaged in different roles allowed students to make a direct comparison between the job roles and to appreciate that in all large corporations there are many roles and at all levels, outside of the organisation’s core business.
Comments from the students included:
“I have learnt about the skills that Clifford Chance looks for in employees.”
“I have developed a deeper insight into the different roles a lawyer carries out.”
“There are multiple aspects and jobs within a law firm.”
“I thought today was amazing and nothing could have been better.”