Why did you choose Ropes & Gray to start your legal career?
I was naturally drawn to Ropes & Gray as it is a private equity powerhouse. On my vacation scheme at the firm, I immediately noticed the genuine friendliness of the team. You’re not part of a huge intake, and that, combined with a culture that values everyone’s experiences, makes it so your input matters.
Another factor I looked for in a firm was a deep-rooted commitment to pro bono. At Ropes, pro bono hours count towards your billables and there’s a minimum 20-hour annual target, meaning that lawyers are actually incentivised, and not penalised, for doing pro bono.
How did you find the recruitment and selection process?
I actually found it enjoyable. The recruitment team had a mammoth task, managing the whole process around Covid-19, but kudos to them, they updated me regularly and ran things incredibly smoothly.
The assessment centre was comprised of an elevator pitch, written assessment, CV-blind interviews and negotiation exercise. It was rigorously challenging, but it was as much an opportunity for Ropes to assess my fit with the firm as it was to assess Ropes’ fit for me, so I took advantage of the trainee lunch and talks by engaging with many people as I could.
How would you describe the firm’s culture?
I’ve worked as a paralegal at a few firms before Ropes, so I’ve had the privilege of experiencing different working environments. While I’ve had great experiences at other firms, I would say that I’ve never felt as strongly about a firm as I have about Ropes & Gray. The people here are truly nice, collaborative and social—and it’s not a cliché. Just speak to someone at Ropes & Gray, and you’ll immediately see what I mean. You can always ask that ‘stupid’ question and not feel so stupid after. People are invested in you and genuinely care about your development.
Tell us about a memorable matter you’ve worked on.
I was extremely excited to be staffed on a matter in my first seat that involved one of the most prominent Korean companies and their global privacy (data protection) compliance program. The client had quite an aggressive deadline and there was a lot of material to cover. For a certain period of time, we were conducting around two to three interviews per day with the relevant stakeholders to assess the company’s data protection standards. The end product was a report on their global data protection compliance, which meant that attention to detail was crucial.
Tell us about a pro bono matter you’ve worked on.
I worked on a pro bono matter that helped victims of domestic abuse – a problem that has been exacerbated by the pandemic. A good understanding of resources available, recognition of urgent matters and dealing with issues sensitively was fundamental to serving such clients.
I also have had the opportunity to draft privacy policies for pro bono clients who need data assistance, including United Way UK and The Kaiya Foundation. While many people don’t read these policies, they are incredibly important because they are strictly regulated by the GDPR.
What tips would you give a potential applicant?
Research the firm and try to gauge whether Ropes is a fit for you—understand the firm’s values, know its strengths and see what differentiates it from its competitors. You should have a genuine interest and drive to work here. And most importantly, every process is a dialogue – ask questions, speak to people at the firm, and reach out on social platforms. I wholeheartedly believe that in any workplace, it’s important that you can be your true self (within reason).