UK law firm Watson, Farley & Williams has introduced a first. They require their trainee lawyers to blog about their positions as trainee lawyers in a weekly blog as part of a recruitment drive. As is the case in many countries, mid-size law firms often find themselves hard pressed to attract top notch candidates when competing with them against large firms so it becomes necessary to be innovative if these smaller firms have any hope of enticing these candidates away from the larger firms.
The blog itself is a strange one. Rather than publishing each post in the format you would expect to see in a blog, each post is published in a pdf. Here is one of the posts published by Rebecca Conan on 11 September 2006:
Calling all prospective solicitors, forget the official handbooks and urban legends of suffering city trainees, these pages are here to offer you the inside track on what it is really like to be a trainee in the square mile.
With law school a pleasantly distant memory, twelve fresh faced trainees turned up for the long awaited September 2006 start date. Suitably refreshed after our last long holidays we left our student days behind to finally take up our places at the firm. Having such a small and friendly intake eased away any first day nerves and confirmed in my mind that I had made the right choice of firm. There seems to be a good array of support networks within the firm, as each of us was assigned a mentor and a newly qualified, to which we will no doubt direct all of our silly questions. The first week has been a flurry of introductory talks, lunches, meet and greet and posing for photographs, which have been circulated around the firm for everyone to smirk at. After being given a box of business cards each, we plunged straight in to matters maritime. Thankfully, background shipping lectures will drag us up to scratch for what will make up a core part of our training contracts. We were given a whirlwind tour of different types of ship (don’t whatever you do call them boats) and were introduced to the world of BIMCOs and bareboat charters. One of the first week highlights has to be the professional impact and style consultant session. After being coached in positive first impressions, career development and what not to wear if you want to get to the top, I wonder how many of us were planning a lunch time dash to the shops? We were also given an insight into the intricacies of time recording; I now understand why law schools try to prepare the ground by dividing timetables in to ten minute slots.
There seems to be a refreshingly down to earth and approachable atmosphere, which makes for a welcome contrast to the tales of trainee baiting and mysterious errands to the post room in some of the larger city firms. Another perk comes in the form of a first rate restaurant, where food is lovingly served up by a smiling Frenchman. I hear his home made truffles make the perfect accompaniment to morning coffee. The first two weeks will be taken up with induction, which will ease us all in gently before we begin work in our respective seats. Note to self; enjoy the 9.30-5.30 while it lasts.
In South Africa prospective candidate attorneys (what we call trainee lawyers) are given an opportunity to work at many firms for a couple weeks during university vacations to get a feel for those firms and to enable them to decide where they would like to work when they start their articles. As with articles themselves, positions for these “vac jobs” are also limited so only the few who make it will have the chance to preview what may be in store for them down the line.
I agree with Kevin at Lexblog, it is only a matter of time until the same need to innovate that inspired Waston, Farley & Williams leads to audiocasts and perhaps even videocasts (yes, these are new terms I am using – the reason for this can be found over at chilibean) being published. Actually, I think videocasts would be pretty effective because candidates will get to see things for themselves.
(See also Legal Week)