Berwin Leighton Paisner interview a high number of candidates (approximately 500) for just 40 training contracts each year.
At this first interview stage you will be asked various questions, some of which may be very similar to questions asked in your Berwin Leighton Paisner online application. Previous candidates have been asked:
- Why law?
- Why Berwin Leighton Paisner?
- Why choose a city firm over a regional?
- What do you think is unique about Berwin Leighton Paisner/the culture at BLP?
- What do you think is unique about being based in London?
You will also be asked about your module marks and university/college grades, if these are not consistent. Candidates are also likely to be asked about an important (or current) commercial issue, such as the credit crunch. You will need to explain this issue, and talk about its implication for law firms.
Berwin Leighton Paisner are also likely to ask you for feedback from any vacation schemes you may have completed and any work experience you may have on your CV. You will be asked competency based questions.
This interview will last for approximately 20 minutes.
The Berwin Leighton Paisner assessment day will be structured as follows:
- Drafting exercise
- Negotiation exercise
The presentation and the negotiation exercise are the key parts of the assessment. Your assessors are looking for clear, confident and articulate candidates. Do not be afraid to voice an opinion, or to stand up for yourself if others do not share your views.
At the start of your assessment day you will be given specific information about a firm you may have heard of. You will then use this information for several exercises as instructed by your assessors.
Once you have had time to digest the company information provided, you will be asked to do a client pitch. It is very important to be articulate, keep eye contact with your audience, talk with clarity and stand up for yourself if asked difficult questions by your assessors. However, it is highly unlikely that you will be asked any questions after you have given your presentation.
You will have five minutes to talk about why you should be team leader for a project. Make sure you have researched Berwin Leighton Paisner before your interview, so you can discuss how your strengths make you most suitable for this role. Find out about several recent cases BLP have dealt with in each of the firm's main areas of law.
Do not continue writing when other people are giving their presentations. Your assessors will not like this.
After your pitch, you will draft a letter to a client giving advice about a certain legal issue. This may relate to advice on an issue/dispute between a landlord and tenant. No legal knowledge is required.
Your draft letter will be judged on content, spelling, punctuation and structure but does not have to be excessively long.
This exercise is performed in teams of two. Your pair will be representing one company and another two person team will be representing another. The negotiation will involve one company buying the other. You must negotiate the best deal for your client.
For this exercise you must be assertive, but not overly so. You must not be argumentative.
During the partner interview you will be asked questions about your CV and application form by a partner from Berwin Leighton Paisner. It is likely there will be several commercial awareness competency questions, a question about legal ethics and almost certainly a question about the firm and specifically what they do. Towards the end of your interview your interviewer will ask your to answer a short case study question.
It's very important to properly research the firm so you can talk at length about the work they do and demonstrate your knowledge during the partner interview.
Expect the following questions at interview:
- Why have you chosen a career in law? Why commercial law?
- Why Berwin Leighton Paisner? What distinguishes Berwin Leighton Paisner from its competitors?
- Why have you decided upon a city firm over regional firms/smaller firms?
- Who are Berwin Leighton Paisner's competitors and what distinguishes the firm from them?
- What are the day to day aspects of trainee's work?
- What recent BLP cases have been of interest to you?
These questions (including possible answers to them) are discussed in more detail below:
Why berwin leighton paisner? What distinguishes BLP from its competitors?
For this question, consider what attracts you to the firm. There are several characteristics that make berwin leighton paisner stand out from its competitors such as:
- Ambition: BLP has doubled in size over the last five years. This is impressive for a firm that originally consisted of three different offices. The growth of Berwin Leighton Paisner is also attractive for job applicants as it suggest there will be many opportunities available to future trainees.
- Training: BLP hire relatively few trainees each year, considering their size. The firm have stated that they do this to ensure a higher standard of training, which makes the firm an attractiveproposition for graduates keen to develop their knowledge of the law and relevant skills in a select pool of closely supervised and well taught trainees.
- Focus on organic growth: BLP have an emphasis on organic growth. The firm prefer to promote from within and tend to recognise staff achievements, rather than simply pursuing structural promotion. Berwin Leighton Paisner are not a magic circle firm, which to a certain extent allows them to be less hierarchical and more meritocratic than some of their magic circle competitors.
- Opportunity to work in several practice areas: Berwin Leighton paisner offer excellent service across all practice areas (litigation, corporate and property). This allows the company to provide a comprehensive training experience for graduate trainees, unlike otherfirms whose work may focus too highly in one core area. At Slaughter and May for example, 70% of the work is corporate.
Who are Berwin Leighton Paisner's competitors and what distinguishes the firm from them?
BLP's main competitors are Ashurst, SJ Berwin and Herbert Smith. What distinguishes BLP is the firm's consistant growth over the last five years, across all practice areas. Competitor firms such as SJ Berwin may be a specialist in one practice area (in SJ Berwin's case this is private equity) but less capable in other areas, such as litigation.
BLP's emphasis on client relationship partners, its involvement in the Olympics and its future objectives (the firm wants to be the most respected law firm in the UK, rather than the largest) also stand it apart from from competitors. A concrete example of this objective being realised is the growth of BLP's Joint Venture vehicle "BeProfessional", a project which aims to help smaller companies develop in the UK.
What are the day to day aspects of trainee's work?
The main thing to emphasize in your answer to this question is that it really depends on the department you are working in. For example, a trainee working on a corporate seat would be doing company searches, due diligence exercises and proof reading articles of association. During a seat in litigation however you would be preparing instructions to counsel, drafting summary grounds and sending bundles to counsel's clerks.
What recent BLP cases have been of interest to you?
Two recent high-profile Berwin Leighton Paisner cases have been working in conjunction with the London Olympics 2012 and working with Tesco (a long-term BLP client). BLP has also enjoyed recent success with AIM listings.
Case study question
Towards the end of your partner interview you will be asked a Case study question. This question may require you to think about the various issues that are involved when companies are formed and when two companies merge.
Your interview will continue after your case study question, although subsequent questions should focus on your CV and application and the interview should become more of a discussion about you and who you are.
Your interviewer will ask you questions about your choices at A Level and for Degree. Be prepared to explain your academic results if these are not consistent.
You may also now be asked to give feedback from vacation schemes and work experience placements you have taken part in. Your interviewer will ask for your reflections and opinions of the firms you worked at.