An Insight into Ahead with Ashurst
Updated: Sep 19, 2020
Originally written in 2019. The new application now includes a game based psychometric test.
What is the role you secured with Ashurst?
I applied for (and was selected!) for a place on their ‘Ahead with Ashurst’ programme – a week long, full time work experience scheme for first year Law students. Applications are currently open for their 2020 programme!
Before I arrived at Ashurst we were given the opportunity to select our top seat choices. I was allocated real estate and sat in the construction division with a trainee ‘buddy’ and a partner.
Why did you choose to apply to Ashurst?
Ashurst kindly sponsored the First Year Mooting Competition at Warwick University last year, which my partner and I won. The finals were held in the offices and were judged by Ashurst trainees. This was my first interaction with the firm, and the trainees were incredibly friendly, with one of them reaching out a week later to ask me if I needed any career or application advice. Ashurst prides itself in having an open and friendly culture, and from my own experiences even before joining the scheme, I can confirm this is true – it is also the reason I chose to apply for ‘Ahead with Ashurst’.
How did you find the application process? Were there any stages you found particularly enjoyable or challenging?
I found the application process incredibly straight forwards. There is an online form to complete – where you input grades and work experience – and then the actual application is a cover letter addressed to their recruitment partner, Nick Wong.
The letter gives you the opportunity to show off all of your achievements and skills and link them to the skills that Ashurst are looking for in their candidates. The next stage is an in-office case study and interview with a graduate recruitment team member.
The case study was the most challenging aspect of the process for me, as the only requirement is to be able to show commercial awareness and cogent writing ability – it is impossible to prepare in advance. Though I did not understand the intricacies of the problem the case study was dealing with, they are looking for you to be able to apply real commercial issues and situations to the problem and demonstrate an understanding of the link between commercial and political issues.
What was the toughest interview question you faced?
The questions were all competency based, which you can prepare for in advance. However, the toughest question that I faced was ‘why do you want to go on this scheme’. It is here that I emphasise the importance of being honest! If you are not sure about a career in commercial law, because you lack the experience in it (as I did!), tell them! These first-year schemes are as much designed for you to understand whether that world is right for you, as much as it is for firms to recruit top students.
How would you summarise your experience at Ashurst?
Incredibly insightful, engaging, and confirmed my desire to work in commercial law.
Ashurst went above and beyond by organising activities for us, such as ‘Ashopoly’ (a game that took us all the way around London solving riddles and clues), and the talks on the business of law, pro bono and diversity all broadened my understanding of the world of City Law Firms.
I also got the chance to conduct some research for my trainee buddy on his pro bono project, and work with a partner on an article he was compiling about modular construction. Ashurst is incredibly accommodating as to your interests, and trainees in any seat were more than happy to have a chat to explain about what they did as part of their work.
What three tips would you give to WWCS members looking to follow in your footsteps?
1. Be honest – employers can see right through you and can tell if you’re ingenuine.
2. Fill your CV with non-legal experience – volunteer with causes you believe in, join cultural societies, play sports/musical instruments. Life in the city is hard, and employers want people who can have a life outside of work (they’re also more interesting to work alongside!)
3. Work out what it is that sets the firm apart – all firms have high level work, high risk work and incredible clients. What ELSE can the firm offer? Use resources like Bright Network, Legal Cheek, LawCareers.net, Chambers Student and read their vast array of online articles to determine exactly why you want to go work at that firm.
All the best for your applications!