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Researching Firms - Mayer Brown

28 September 2015 |

Research is the most important part of an application. You need to make sure that you differentiate between all the different law firms in the market. Here are some key areas to focus your research on:


  • Visiting a firm"s office or attending an event they are holding is the best way of getting a first impression of the people working for that firm and also the culture of the firm. Remember that you can mention people you have met in your application form and explain why your interaction with them encouraged you to apply in the first place.


  • Look into any awards each firm has recently won or their rankings (Legal 500 and Chambers)


  • Research their recent transactions and matters they have worked on and mention any that are of particular interest in both your application form and in an interview. For instance, does the work relate to an area of law to which you think you are suited or that you find particularly engaging? The range of clients a firm has may also help you ascertain whether the work in which the firm engages aligns with your interests.


  • Has the firm opened any offices that particularly appeal to you, and if so, why? Do the openings of new offices demonstrate forward thinking or an opportunistic mindset? Do new offices indicate you may have opportunities to second to places of interest around the world?

Training Contract

  • Is there something in particular about the firm"s training contract that appeals to you? For instance, some firms have shorter training contract rotations which would give you a wider range of practice areas to experience.

US/International Firms:

  • If the firm is headquartered in, or originated in a different jurisdiction, try to differentiate the firm from both local firms, and other firms from that jurisdiction with a local office.

These are just some of the questions you need to ask yourself in order to narrow down your search for a training contract. Some of the key methods of research include Lawyer2B, LawCareers.Net, your careers service, firms" websites, Open Days and skills sessions. All of these will give you a flavour of the firms.

All of this research will give you a better understanding of each firm enabling you to target and tailor your applications accordingly. Once you have narrowed down your search, you will still need to do some extensive research around each firm that you have decided to apply to. This will be very important in terms of pre interview preparation. Partners interviewing prospective trainees will want to see strong evidence of your commitment to the career and also the reasons why you have applied. Before an interview, make sure you have familiarised yourself with the application that you submitted as this will be the information they will be basing their questions on. Make sure you have read the business press before your interview as there will be questions around your understanding of the current legal and commercial market. Have a couple of business stories ready that you are prepared to talk about indepth, making sure that you have enough knowledge of them to be able to engage in a sensible conversation! There is no point pretending you read the Financial Times every day if you don"t – you will just get caught out! Find a method that suits you whether it is listening to radio programmes, reading the business section of your favourite broadsheet newspaper or watching a programme like Question Time.