FAQs

Further information about applying

London

The following FAQs apply to applicants in London

Making an application

What is the recruitment process for training contracts?

-    Online application form
-    Online critical reasoning test
-    Face-to-face interview with HR
-    Assessment centre – this consists of a presentation, an interview and a case study exercise.

How can I make my application stand out?

-    Think about where you have gone beyond the usual and take the opportunity to shine. Highlight situations where you have made a contribution beyond what you would expect from a student, i.e. situations where you have made improvements, taken responsibility, etc.
-    Research the firm. Demonstrate you have done your research in your application form. Particularly in response to the question, 'why would you like to join Stephenson Harwood?'.
-    Check your written English is accurate and professional. It may be useful to draft your application, then review it the next day to check for errors. Make sure you spell the name of the firm correctly.

What is the best way to gain a real insight into life at Stephenson Harwood as a candidate?

You can follow us on twitter @SHLegalGrads.

What qualities/attributes does the firm look for?

We look for strong intellect, with good analytical skills, sound judgment, imagination and meticulous attention to detail. Communication skills are vital to be persuasive and build rapport. Plenty of drive and determination is needed, along with a keen interest in business.

Should I include details of non-legal work experience, e. g. business/commercial work, volunteer/charity work in my application form?

Yes, this can help demonstrate that you have considered other career options; picked up other transferrable skills; and/or gained an understanding of another sector or industry. You should comment on the skills and competencies you were able to develop, as well as the tasks and responsibilities you were given and any specific learning points.

Do we accept applications from those who have qualified in to another jurisdiction?

Yes

What are my options if I have done a law degree overseas?

Unless it is an England & Wales qualifying law degree you will need to do the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) before the Law Practice Course (LPC). Then you can complete a two year training contract.

Do we accept applications from those who have qualified in to another jurisdiction?

Yes.

What if I do not have equivalent qualifications for secondary education?

If you are an international student you may not have equivalent qualifications for secondary education. If so, please provide as much detail as possible about the nature of your secondary school qualifications; the grading system and any further information which will be useful to the assessor in screening your application.

What should I do if there were mitigating circumstances around my academic qualifications?

Please provide details on the application form. If appropriate, explain what you have learnt from the experience and how you have developed your skills or adapted your approach since that time.

Do we consider applications from candidates who have a 2:2?

We will consider candidates that have been awarded a 2:2 in their degree if they have mitigating circumstances or can demonstrate their abilities in other ways, such as work experience.

When can I apply for a training contract/placement scheme?

We are now recruiting for March and September 2021, therefore students can only apply for a placement scheme and/or training contract if they are able to start their training contract in 2021.

We review applications throughout the year but never make offers to fill all our places before the application deadline. Only penultimate year law students or final year non-law students (or those who have progressed past this point) may apply for training contracts and placement schemes. First year students are very welcome to apply for an open day.
 

What opportunities are there for first year students?

First year students can apply for an open day.

If I am not successful first time around, can I reapply?

Yes, you can reapply, but you can only apply once in every recruitment window (1 October to 31 July).

When can I expect to hear back about my application?

We respond to all applicants to let them know the outcome of their application once we have made decisions. We understand that you are keen to hear back from us and we try to get decisions to you as soon as possible. However, while we review applications throughout the year, we never make offers to fill all our places before the application deadline. So if you haven't heard from us in the meantime, your application is still under consideration. If you are unsure or would like further clarification, please feel free to contact us by email at graduate.recruitment@shlegal.com.

The assessment day

What three top tips can you provide to those participating in an assessment day?

  • Take every opportunity to showcase your achievements – try not to repeat yourself and use opportunities to talk about different areas of your life.
  • Try to relax and be yourself – the exercises for the assessment day are designed to allow you to showcase your strengths, they are not designed to catch you out.
  • Think of some questions that you would like to ask the interviewers – remember this is a two way process and we are keen for you to ensure that you have all the information you need to make your career decisions.

Are there any ways in which I can prepare for the case study element in the assessment day?

Our case study has been designed so that all students from a range of backgrounds can do well, either from a law or non-law background.  No legal knowledge is required.  
All the materials will be provided to you on the day.
Whilst you do not need to prepare anything in advance for the case study exercise, you may want to think about how you can practise analysing information.  
One suggestion for practising this would be to take an article from a business journal or newspaper about an unfamiliar subject.  Give yourself a set amount of time to read the article and come to a view on the topic considering, for example:
-    What are the issues?
-    What is the short term versus long term situation?
-    What are the strengths / weaknesses / opportunities / challenges?
 

How can I best prepare for the presentation element in the assessment day?

You will be given the brief for the presentation to prepare in advance.  Once you have been given the brief think about:  
-    The structure – How will you start and end the presentation?
-    Your research – What sources will you use?
-    The content – What topic will you choose to speak about within the context of the brief given?  Will this fulfil the brief given to you?

When do assessment centres take place?

We hold assessment centres throughout the year, but the majority take place in August.

The placement scheme

How many places are available for placement schemes?

There are eight places available on each scheme. We run one scheme in winter, one in spring and three in the summer. This makes 40 places in total.

What is the best way to immerse yourself into life at Stephenson Harwood as a placement scheme student?

During the placement scheme you'll benefit from an organised programme of interactive sessions, talks and social events. Before coming along to one of the scheduled events, have a think about what you would like to gain from the session and think about possible questions you may want to ask the speaker in advance.  
Being interested and enthusiastic when given a task to complete will ensure that people will want to involve you in more work throughout the placement.

What is unique to Stephenson Harwood?

We pride ourselves on support and development at the firm. We recognise that there is not a one-size-fits-all approach to your training contract. Our support starts as soon as you receive your offer with us, we will keep in touch with monthly email updates about life at the firm. Once you start your LPC we have regular evening presentations hosted by our practice groups which will help to bring your studies to life. When your first day arrives, you'll be given an induction programme that will help you develop the skills that you will need throughout your training contract. During your two year training contract you will have regular catch ups with your supervisor and HR to ensure you are on the right track for success. 

Are placement scheme students considered for training contracts?

Candidates that apply for a placement scheme with us are automatically considered for a training contract as they are required to attend an assessment centre during their placement.

Does the firm offer work experience outside the placement scheme?

Due to high demand the firm is unable to accept work experience requests.

The training contract

How does the firm's tailored trainee programme affect each trainee's experience?

There are lots of opportunities at Stephenson Harwood; with seats in a range of practice areas, international and client secondments, prospects to be involved in CSR and D&I projects, and the chance to work closely with senior colleagues and partners. 
Every seat is a different journey, each designed to give you a broad balance of commercial awareness and practical legal experience, plus the flexibility to move between projects and pick up new skills. There will be plenty of challenges along the way, but also lots of support.
 

What type of work do trainees get involved in?

Our trainees are exposed to as much responsibility as they can shoulder. Every trainee will have access to top quality international work across a range of sectors. Whichever practice you join, you can expect extensive exposure to our clients and stimulating, cutting edge projects. You could find yourself working on anything from a high profile £multi-million financial litigation case to a ground breaking M&A deal. 

What international secondment opportunities are available during the training contract?

International secondments are available in Dubai, Hong Kong, Paris, Seoul and Singapore. Client secondments are also available. These vary from time to time.

What is the process for applying for an international or client secondment?

The process for going on an international or client secondment is simple. All secondment opportunities are advertised to all the trainees each seat. If you wish to apply you will need to submit a mini CV and a business case. Your seat reviews will be considered alongside these documents.  

Is an international secondment a realistic opportunity?

We have a high number of trainee secondment opportunities including usually seven international secondments each seat. Whilst we cannot guarantee that you will be able to complete a secondment, there is a high possibility that you will be able to do so, providing you are flexible with dates and location.  

Are client secondments available?

Yes, there are usually a couple of opportunities available every seat. Working with an in-house legal team will give you a valuable insight into a client's business and how you can work more effectively as a private practice lawyer to meet the needs of a client.

Do we consider time to count applications?

We expect all of our trainees to complete a full two years training contract and therefore we do not accept time to count requests.

Life at Stephenson Harwood

What are the characteristics of a typical trainee at Stephenson Harwood?

Our trainees all have different backgrounds, different interests and different strengths. Working with a diverse mix of people is one of the highlights of working at our firm.  

Could you tell me about LGBT+ initiatives and policies at Stephenson Harwood?

Diversity and inclusion is extremely important to us as a firm. We want to create an environment where everyone feels supported, engaged and challenged in order to fill their potential. 
Our own internal network for LGBT+ employees and allies, 'SHout', aims to increase awareness of LGBT+ issues and drive positive change through encouraging discussion and debate. Our activities include: featuring in the Stonewall 'starting out guide' as an inclusive employer to the LGBT+ community; participating in the National Student Pride fair; hosting a rainbow 'pop up' event to mark London Pride; supporting the Pride 10k; and internal and external networking opportunities.

What if I have a question that is not covered by these FAQs?

Please feel free to contact us on 0207 809 2812 or by email at graduate.recruitment@shlegal.com and we will be happy to help.

Dubai

The following FAQs apply to applicants in Dubai

What qualities/attributes does the firm look for?

We look for strong intellect, with good analytical skills, sound judgment, imagination and meticulous attention to detail. Communication skills are vital to be persuasive and build rapport. Plenty of drive and determination is needed, along with a keen interest in business.

What is the recruitment process for training contracts?

  • Online application form
  • Online critical reasoning test
  • Face-to-face interview with HR
  • Assessment centre – this consists of presentation, interview and case study exercise.

What three top tips can you provide to those participating in an assessment day?

  • Take every opportunity to showcase your achievements – try not to repeat yourself and use opportunities to talk about different areas of your life.
  • Try to relax and be yourself – the exercises for the assessment day are designed to allow you to showcase your strengths, they are not designed to catch you out.
  • Think of some questions that you would like to ask the interviewers – remember this is a two way process and we are keen for you to ensure that you have all the information you need to make your career decisions.

What should I do if there were mitigating circumstances around my academic qualifications?

Please provide details on the application form. If appropriate, explain what you have learnt from the experience and how you have developed your skills or adapted your approach since that time.

Should I include details of non-legal work experience, e. g. business/commercial work, volunteer/charity work?

Yes, this can help demonstrate that you have considered other career options; picked up other transferrable skills; and/or gained an understanding of another sector or industry. You should comment on the skills and competencies you were able to develop, as well as the tasks and responsibilities you were given and any specific learning points.

What three top tips can you provide to those completing the application form?

  • Think about where you have gone beyond the usual and take the opportunity to shine. Highlight situations where you have made a contribution beyond what you would expect from a student, i.e. situations where you have made improvements, taken responsibility, etc.
  • Research the firm. Demonstrate you have done your research in your application form. Particularly in response to the question, 'why would you like to join Stephenson Harwood?'.
  • Check your written English is accurate and professional. It may be useful to draft your application, then review it the next day to check for errors. Make sure you spell the name of the firm correctly.

When can I expect to hear back about my application?

We respond to all applicants to let them know the outcome of their application once we have made decisions. We understand that you are keen to hear back from us and we try to get decisions to you as soon as possible. However, please note that whilst we review applications throughout the year we never make offers to fill all our places before the application deadline. So if you haven't heard from us from the time being, you application is still under consideration. If you are unsure or would like further clarification, please feel free to contact us by email at graduate.recruitment@shlegal.com.

What if I have a question that is not covered by these FAQs?

Please feel free to contact us on 0044 207 809 2812 or by email graduate.recruitment@shlegal.com and we will be happy to help.

Hong Kong

The following FAQs apply to applicants in Hong Kong

What is the assessment process?

  1. Online application form
  2. Written test for Chinese and English language skills with initial interview
  3. Further interviews during the course of the internship

What qualities/attributes does the firm look for?

We look for strong intellect, with good analytical skills, sound judgment, imagination and meticulous attention to detail. Communication skills are vital to be persuasive and build rapport. Plenty of drive and determination is needed to meet challenging goals.

Where is the office based in Hong Kong?

18/F, United Centre
95 Queensway

What are the culture and values in the Hong Kong office?

In an industry where technical know-how is a given, we differentiate ourselves by our honesty, creative thinking and attention to client care. Our lawyers are bright, fun, commercially minded and have strong inter-personal skills. We achieve this by focusing on talent recruitment and enrichment across all aspects of our human resource management. We aim to ensure that our clients have access to top-notch, consistent and unequivocal legal advice in plain language wherever we operate.

How many places are available for placement schemes?

There are two schemes which take place in June and there are eight places available on each scheme. This makes 16 places in total.

What secondment opportunities are available during the training contract?

International secondments are available in London and Shanghai.

What training and development opportunities are available during the training contract?

  • Practical 'on-the-job' training by sharing an office and working with one of our partners or senior solicitors.
  • Stimulating work with lots of responsibility early on.
  • An in-house programme of legal education and soft skills training.
  • Continuous review of your career development both during your training contract and after qualification.
  • An opportunity to complete a secondment in our London or Shanghai offices.