Law Career Guide

Setting yourself up for success

Whether you’re applying to A&O Shearman or another law firm, there are many things you can do during summer months to set yourself up for success.

Here is our best advice on how to make the most of your time to prepare for applying, interviews and beyond. We’ve also been speaking to current student, A&O Shearman brand ambassador and 2025 training contract recipient, Amy Evans, to bring you her top tips on getting ahead. 

1. Keep listening, learning and making connections.

Spend some time researching the different areas of law and learning what’s involved in the roles available, for example the difference between a solicitor and a barrister. Use your time to build your understanding so you can make better decisions about your future later. Take the opportunity to read up on current affairs in the legal industry too. There are all sorts of free resources online and events you can attend which will help you continue to build your knowledge and understanding, as well as grow your network. 

You could also consider becoming a brand ambassador like Amy. She heard about A&O Shearman brand ambassadors while on campus. After doing the First Year programme, she was keen to become an ambassador herself and found it a great way to keep in touch with the firm and build meaningful connections.

Becoming a brand ambassador is a fantastic way to see a firm from the inside out. You get to speak to people in early careers recruitment and build relationships that give you a deeper understanding of the firm you’re interested in. It means that when you join schemes, you see familiar faces you’ve met before.

Organisations like Legal Cheek and Bright Network run events over the summer. I took part in Legal Cheek’s virtual vacation scheme which was a great way to network with ambassadors from different firms and to compare how you might be valued as an employee.

There are lots of resources you can engage with online too. For example, the Commercial Law Handbook can help you understand what it means to be commercially aware and how to apply that knowledge in an interview. Bright Network do a great podcast called Thinking Commercially, which helped get me in the right mindset for interviews. If you’re looking for newsletters, then you could try Ziplaw or Watson’s Daily. They condense commercial articles and points of interest into a useful newsletter for your inbox. Set up Google alerts for the firms you’re interested in too, so that you can keep up with what they are doing.

Future Trainee

2. Not everything needs to be law related. 

There are all kinds of transferrable skills you can gain from a work experience during the summer months. Don’t underestimate how much you can gain from your experiences in other subject areas and how those skills can help during your application and interview.

For Amy, she was the first generation in her family to go to university. She worked at her local post office, local vets and surrounding heritage sites to gain professional experience and start building the skills that could be applied to a legal career. 

There’s no reason why you can’t build transferrable skills somewhere other than a legal office. Focus on areas like communication, numeracy, literacy, emotional intelligence and intellectual curiosity. When it comes to applying, remember to highlight your non-legal work experience and transferrable skills to strengthen your application.

Future Trainee

3. Think with your head, and your heart.

Consider what you want for your future career, both in terms of the work and the culture. 

For Amy, the calibre of work, international scale and client portfolio were all important, and she wanted to work at a diverse firm with an inclusive culture. During her application to A&O Shearman, Amy was diagnosed with a mental health condition and was undergoing assessments for ADHD and Autism. It then became equally important to her that she felt a sense of belonging and value at the firm she was joining.

Don’t apply for every single firm, because not every firm will be right for you. Trust your gut. When you attend events, apply to schemes, become a brand ambassador or get inside a firm – see how it feels to be there. With A&O Shearman, I felt so comfortable reaching out for help during my application. I wanted to be somewhere with a culture that truly valued its people and that is something I’ve always felt at A&O Shearman.

Future Trainee