Hi Frances, thank you for your question.
I would expect the answer to your question to be different for everyone, as there are a lot of subjective and personal factors that might inform your choice for one firm over another.
Because I am from Belgium, it was important to me that any firm I chose had a presence in Brussels. That was one of the ways I selected which firms I would like to apply to. I then met a HSF associate at a graduate recruitment event who strongly encouraged me to apply. This welcoming and encouraging attitude was something that drew me in more. Finally, I was convinced HSF was the right choice during the vacation scheme. The people I met (the other applicants, but also the associates and partners) were easy for me to get along with, and I could imagine working with them in the future. Everyone was always ready to listen and answer any questions, and I felt I would be able to be myself at this firm.
I think that whether or not you are a good 'cultural fit' with a firm may only become clear to you after you have met a few more people (and this may be only after the vacation scheme) but I hope this helps. I wish you the best of luck with your applications!
Let me add to Jade's very helpful reply to give my own thoughts. I started at the firm over 18 years ago and the two reasons I chose Herbert Smith then are the same reasons why I continue to love working here at Herbert Smith Freehills now. First, the work - the opportunity to work on deals or disputes that feature in the press and are relevant in a global context (whether the takeover of Sky or advising clients on the potential impact of Brexit). Second, the people - I have made great friends here over the years, everyone is different and individual, but also down to earth and reasonable. There is no showing-off. There is a strong sense of pride in the work we do and a genuine desire to have fun and enjoy each other's company while we do it.
All the best in your decision making!
Frances, my interest in HSF developed in stages as my understanding of HSF and what it offered developed. I think you are doing the right thing by asking for other people's motivators to see if they align with your own. By way of summary:
Stage 1 (open minded student) – meeting a number of firm representatives who were always honest, open and enthused (the personal relationship that Jade speaks about above).
Stage 2 (slightly more informed student) – researching the firm (via website and word of mouth) and discovering that the emphasis on international and sector-based work/opportunities aligned with what interested me.
Stage 3 (committed applicant) – participating in a two week vacation scheme which really reinforced the above and finding that I fit in well with the teams I sat with.
Stage 4 (trainee nearing qualification) – being provided with insights into very different areas of law during my training contract (international arbitration and public law, real estate, technology, media and telecoms) and being allowed the flexibility to pursue my interests.
Thank you so much all! It all sounds really inspiring and positive. I will definitely be applying for HSF so thank you!
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