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  • 🎙️ AMA with Sayed from Freshfields

🎙️ AMA with Sayed from Freshfields



A couple weeks ago, I announced that Freshfields would be joining us to give you *actual* answers on... well... anything, really.

And my inbox blew up (seriously, both my email and LinkedIn inbox were flooded).

So, we gathered your questions and shared them with Sayed, an Early Careers Recruitment Specialist at Freshfields.

Sayed’s got the insider’s view on how to get a training contract at a leading international law firm.

Freshfields already puts out a lot of content to help applicants – the firm has published useful information on the application process and answers to common questions.

But I’m super excited to get Sayed’s thoughts on the *exact questions* you sent to us — answers from someone who knows what a top law firm is looking for in its applicants. 

- Idin

📆 Events: Freshfields is running two events you might be interested in.

The first is an event on how Freshfields helps its clients meet their sustainability and ESG goals (sign up here).

The second is on the firm’s pro bono work, and promoting access to the rights of targeted groups (sign up here).

👆️ Join to see what makes Freshfields unique

P.S. You can use what you learn in these events in your future applications


What’s the most embarrassing song you’ll admit to liking publicly?

“It’s Everyday Bro — Jake Paul and Team 10”

Is that embarrassing or iconic? I’ll let you be the judge of that!

Good, now that’s sorted — let’s move on…


What would be some similarities between a group of successful Freshfields applicants?

They would all exhibit ambition, creativity, determination, tenacity, and be team players.

Here’s a top tip — demonstrate how you have been able to develop these attributes through your lived experiences.

What are the most common mistakes you see at each of these stages (+ how you can fix it)?

🗒️ Written application (or personal statement): The most common mistakes are research errors and typos (grammatical or spelling), which significantly diminish the quality of your submission.

Ensure that you have sought feedback on your application — have a friend review it or make use of platforms such as (but not limited to) Rare Recruitment, Aspiring Solicitors or your university’s careers services. Also proofread your application at least twice (with a break between reviews) before hitting submit.

💻️ Watson Glaser test: The biggest issue is candidates not having prepared for the assessment ahead of the time they receive the test. It’s a marathon, and not a sprint. Practice does make perfect and it takes time to get it down right rather than attempting to learn it all in the last 48 hours prior to the test deadline.

Attempt as many resources available, and try to develop an understanding of what the test is actually attempting to assess.

Read the questions and take them as fact rather than believing you know more than the test — common sense unfortunately does not work in the world of the Watson Glaser Test. Trust your gut!

🤝 Assessment day: The most common issue is overthinking the question asked — sometimes you just need to listen to the question asked and simply answer it!

Make use of platforms such as Rare Recruitment or Aspiring Solicitors or your university’s careers services which offer interview preparation and support.

How do you test commercial awareness throughout the application process? 

While the exact definition of ‘commercial awareness’ may vary between law firms, it generally refers to an individual’s ability to critically evaluate information from a provided piece of text (often in the form of a fictitious case study or real-life news article) and integrate their understanding of the material with additional insights related to the broader commercial landscape of the modern world (essentially, what is happening globally).

This also involves considering various perspectives, such as those of different stakeholder groups, geographic regions or markets, and conducting SWOT or PESTLE analysis on the topic.

When being assessed on commercial awareness, it is crucial for individuals to demonstrate clear and structured thinking by making their insights easy to follow. For example, you should be signposting your answer structure.

Additionally, ensure that the broader knowledge you are attempting to incorporate is directly relevant to the specific question asked, rather than merely being an attempt to showcase general awareness.

What advice would you give to help someone bounce back after getting rejected?

Rather than viewing it as a rejection, consider it a redirection.

People bloom and demonstrate their potential at different intervals.

Remember that there isn’t just one singular pathway or journey toward pursuing a career in law. Embrace the journey, learn from the experience, seek feedback if it is available, and use it to grow.

Recent news came out that some law firms rescinded offers for those individuals who didn’t pass their first sitting of the SQE exam. What is Freshfields’ policy on this?

We recognise that the SQE is a new and challenging assessment regime and we are pleased with the firm’s high pass rates achieved from the City Consortium Solicitor Training Programme to date.

While we reserve the right to withdraw offers if assessments are not passed, we consider all circumstances and speak to the individuals before coming to a decision. To date, we have allowed resits in almost all cases, and have provided additional financial support, as well as covering all exam fees.

We will continue to keep this policy under review and remain committed to investing in our carefully-selected future talent.

If I didn't get fantastic grades in my teens and early 20s. Would it be impossible for me to get a place at a firm like Freshfields?

It is certainly possible!

At Freshfields, we do not have A-Level (or any equivalent academic course) grade requirements for our graduate opportunities.

In terms of university grades, we consider individuals who are on track for a 2:1 or have graduated with a 2:1 in their undergraduate degree. This does not mean that you need to have a 2:1 or a 1st across every module.

We understand that some individuals may have experienced challenges during their degree or encountered setbacks beyond their control. If this applies to you, please mention this in the mitigating circumstances section of the application form. We take all of this into consideration when reviewing applications as we value having a holistic view of our applicants.

My top tip — keep it factual. Describe the ‘What’, ‘Where/When’, ‘Why’ and ‘How’.

How important is it for an applicant to have legal work experience before making an application to the firm?

Legal work experience can demonstrate an individual’s commitment to understanding a legal career. However, we do not consider it to be a prerequisite (or ‘must-have’) for candidates looking to make an application to Freshfields.

Instead, we are focused on gaining a holistic view of how one’s lived experiences have contributed to their development and understanding of skills relevant to a commercial lawyer.

Tell us about your involvement in university societies, extracurricular activities, hobbies, personal responsibilities, or part-time work — it’s also about the transferable skills! 

If you’re curious about the day-to-day work of a commercial lawyer, consider exploring our virtual work experience opportunities on Forage. It’s a great way to gain insights and enhance your understanding of what a role in commercial law entails.

Remember, while legal work experience is valuable, we appreciate a diverse range of experiences that contribute to a candidate’s overall skill set.


  • 📹️ Free application help: If you're applying to commercial law firms, check out my YouTube channel for actionable tips and an insight in to the lifestyle of a commercial lawyer in London.