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How a virtual internship helped Charlotte secure a training contract

Charlotte Kail says that she always wanted a career in which she would have the opportunity to travel, meet interesting people from different backgrounds and do engaging and challenging work—so joining a law firm seemed like a great fit. But how do you get to know which law firm is right for you, and how do you differentiate yourself from other keen applicants?

Acting on feedback

After an unsuccessful application for a training contract with another firm, Charlotte decided to change her approach before trying again. "I made serious efforts to be reflective on what had gone wrong previously and act on any feedback I had sought out." What was the key difference in her approach the following year? "This time around I took a lot of time to gain as much relevant experience as I could to demonstrate a real commitment to commercial law and demonstrate that I had the skills to become an excellent trainee."

Charlotte explains how an innovative work experience opportunity gave her the insight she needed into the work and the Firm. "My journey to White & Case started with the Inside Sherpa Virtual Work Experience programme. When I got started on a typical complex multijurisdictional transaction, I became really excited for the opportunity to work on similar global deals as a trainee. It gave me the confidence to make an application to the Firm."

Putting new skills to use

What was the next step? "This work experience led me to apply for the White & Case Open Day and a Vacation Scheme. Whilst I was on the Scheme, I was able to put the skills I had learnt during the virtual internship into practice, tackling similar tasks such as legal research and taking notes during negotiations." 

She adds, "My work experience gave me greater confidence in my ability to complete the tasks to a good standard, because I had previous experience. I had also been able to see model answers during the programme. It is the best way to gain a flavour of the Firm and see what is expected of trainees."

“It made my answer to ‘Why White & Case?’ more convincing.”

As Charlotte progressed to a full application for a position as a trainee, she felt that the Inside Sherpa experience gave her an edge. "It was something I could refer to throughout my entire application. I had the Firm's name already on my CV, and I believe it made my answer to 'Why White & Case?' far more convincing." 

She points out that there are upwards of 2,000 applicants for training contracts. "It is so important to differentiate yourself—most candidates applying for training contracts can boast an amazing range of experiences. While the virtual internship is still new, it is a different, effective and interesting experience to make you stand out to recruiters." 

Charlotte says that showing her dedication to acting on feedback and getting the experience that she was missing paid off. What's her advice to students considering a virtual internship? "It will demonstrate that you are willing to take every opportunity that comes your way. It made my applications stronger, better researched, better informed and, as a non-law graduate, allowed me to clearly express why commercial law was for me!"

London Training Contract

Be yourself—honest and authentic

Finally, what advice does Charlotte have for anyone who feels that they are not making progress in their vacation scheme or trainee contract applications?

"Don't just keep trying the same thing. Step back and ask yourself, what worked, what didn't work and how can I do better? Feedback is vital, and it was a big reason why I broke through. Be willing to change and adapt. I found that I had been trying to be like other candidates when, in fact, it is vital that your application is honest and authentic and shows your personality. Ditch the fancy language and just be yourself."

Finally, she adds, "Applicants should know why commercial law is for you and justify their reasoning based on experiences to date. Get out there and get as much relevant experience as you can. Every single thing that you do will come in handy at some point, particularly when it comes to interviews. I would wholeheartedly recommend completing a virtual internship for the skills and insight you will get into firms that you just can't get from reading their websites!"

We look forward to welcoming Charlotte to the Firm as a trainee in September 2022. 

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Register now for the White & Case Virtual Internship Programme