Why did you choose Ropes & Gray to start your legal career?
I was motivated by the level of training on offer. The relatively small size of practice groups at the London office offers trainees the opportunity to take on more responsibility from an earlier point in their careers, and the friendly, collaborative atmosphere of the firm means that advice and feedback are forthcoming. This, combined with access to complex work for interesting clients, made it hard NOT to apply.
How did you find the recruitment and selection process?
I found Ropes & Gray differed from other firms in its focus on developing each candidate as an individual as much as assessing them against others. On the vacation scheme, lawyers, both junior and senior, were happy to take time to explain work and tried to get us involved in “real” and not just busywork. Similarly, on interview, the tone was more conversational and collegiate than in other more aggressive and confrontational processes I have experienced. I have found that application processes are about finding a firm that suits you as much as you suit it, and after the Ropes & Gray process, I truly felt I found the perfect fit.
How would you describe the firm’s culture?
In a word -- “refreshing,” because the focus is on professional excellence and development, rather than seniority, hierarchy or office politics. Colleagues care about providing a high-quality work product for the client above all else. Consequently, co-workers are both experts in their field and easily approachable, offering the ideal training environment.
Tell us about a memorable matter you’ve worked on.
I was involved in a deal with a timeline almost perfectly matching the length of my seat. This allowed me to see a large sell-side auction process through from start to finish. The deal revolved around a client’s sale of a pharmaceutical company. Working on a small-sized deal team gave me the opportunity to take on tasks that would not normally be given to a first seat trainee at other firms, including having a reasonable amount of client contact. While we were working virtually at the time, I still felt I was able to take real ownership of the process and tasks given to me. I also spent a few weeks working closely with the sale company to answer questions from a prospective bidder. Whilst a little stressful at the time, this gave real insight into the breadth of legal issues that need to be considered on a large acquisition and how potential roadblocks are cleared.
Tell us about a pro bono matter you’ve worked on.
I worked on a Lawyers Without Borders project to create teaching materials for public prosecutors in Kenya. The focus was on the use of forensic evidence in criminal trials, which, given my unfamiliarity with Kenyan criminal law, resulted in some demanding background research. The work and unique subject matter made the whole process rewarding.
What tips would you give a potential applicant?
Be as proactive as possible during the application process. Background research on the firm’s culture, practice areas and work is essential to getting the most out of the process. Applicants can then use their greater knowledge of the firm to understand why they are a good fit for the firm and subsequently demonstrate this throughout their applications.