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How to Be Best Candidate for An Internship With A Top Tier Law Firm

TimeOdd Stories - Internship

Get A Mid-Term Plan

From my first day of law school, I wanted to work for a top tier law firm. I believed working for one of those firms was the pinnacle of success; I wanted to be successful and live the vida loca (later, I rudely discovered that a career in law is the furthest thing from the ‘high-life’ imaginable. If your goals involve drinking top shelf liquor with clients and earning obscene amounts of money fast, become a high-class stripper instead). I didn’t go to a prestigious university, but that didn’t stop me wanting to work for a prestigious international law firm.

By this stage, I had figured that life has a certain equation to it. If you do x and y, then you’re likely to get x+y as the answer. This law firm didn’t take interns until their penultimate year of university. I was in first year, so I figured I had a bit of time to work on my application (yes, I was one of those students who handed in assignments three days before they were due).

Slowly, I started to piece together what I was going to need to impress one of the world’s top law firms. Good grades, involvement in life outside of university and most importantly, a personality. The foundations of my plan had been set. I had written down what I needed to do. All I needed to do was crack on with it. As they say, perfect planning prevents poor performance.


Ask Everyone For Help

Through my first and second year of university, I hunted down every single student who had interned for a top law firm in the faculty. I asked them a mirage of questions: Why were they chosen? What went well in their interview? What was the firm like? What was the firm looking for? Who interviewed them? What extracurricular activities did they participate in? What were they passionate about? I asked them questions until they were forced to make up weak excuses about running off to milk cows or needing to babysit their neighbour’s cat just so they could leave.

I camped outside the offices of every career counsellor and adviser on campus until they saw me. I visited a high court judge to ask him general questions about the profession, areas of law and his advice. I literally had no boundaries and no shame. Speaking to people, emailing and calling is the best way to learn, grow and develop the areas/skills you need to focus on.

I am often struck by how unwilling people are to call for a hand. Perhaps you think that asking for help carves a chunk out of your stoicism and independence, it definitely doesn’t. Every wise woman/man uses their resources, you’re disadvantaging yourself if you don’t. Google can only tell you so much.


You Don’t Need To Be The Best Candidate, Be The Most Prepared

When I was invited to interview, I had a little recap of my journey so far and evaluated who I was up against. I had some good grades and some pretty average ones. I had some cool achievements and anecdotes under my belt, but I could have done more. I was under no illusions, I knew I wasn’t the best candidate. I just wasn’t concerned about it.

Going into that interview, I had an answer to every question I could possibly have been asked. I knew my cv off by heart. I knew the big cases the firm had recently, won, lost and settled. I knew who their blue chip clients were. I knew how many international offices they had. The firm were renowned for making candidates give impromptu speeches and discussing a recent case in detail. I had answers to that too. I got an internship not because I was the best candidate, but because I was the most prepared.

It sounds like months of research and cramming with a life of little else, but it really wasn’t. Preparing several years in advance sounds extreme, but I did what I had to, and most importantly, what I wanted to do so I could make my dreams happen. I walked out of the interview knowing I had brought my absolute best.

A clear goal, a strong action plan and asking everyone I knew for tips, tricks and advice was all it took. In life, there will always be someone better, smarter and stronger than you. Don’t worry about them, run your own race and give it your all.

The irony in all of this was that I absolutely hated working for a top tier corporate firm. No matter how much I thought I had wanted it, in the end, I couldn’t force myself to love it. It was a true testament that anything in this world was for the taking. Although, more importantly, I learned that if you want to score yourself a ‘prestigious career’ with a top tier company, you should take the time to figure out the real reason why.

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Written by TimeOdd

TimeOdd is a leading technology media property, dedicated to obsessively profiling startups, reviewing new Internet products, and breaking tech news.

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