We’ve put together a few of our commonly asked questions covering topics such as what is your assessment process to is the legal world for me? Take a look below or reach out to our early ambitions team.
Life at SHMA
We are all authentic in our own individual ways.
We are inquisitive and constantly exploring and creating new ways of doing things. We work in collaboration with each other, taking our own individual opinions, challenging and learning from other to reach an exciting outcome. We have integrity in our work, we do the right thing and not the easy one. We are optimistic, adaptable, brave, and ambitious.
We are a group of individuals, all different, but working together to achieve ambitious goals for ourselves and our clients. Our mind is on tomorrow, so it matters less what you achieved in the classroom in the past, and is more about what you can bring to the table now, and how you will drive your legal career moving forward. Does this sound like something you want to be a part of? Of course it does!
Our application process re-opens in January 2021! However, we are hosting a series of live events that you can attend to hear from our current trainees on what life is like here.
Your adventure starts today, and it starts right here.
We have a strong CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) offering, and we are always keen for volunteers. Additionally, we love our Trainees to get involved with different outreach programmes and initiatives to help encourage the next generation of Solicitors down the legal pathway.
Find out more by visiting our trainee contracts hub.
We like to work flexibly and encourage all our staff to, honestly!
Shakespeare Martineau’s core working hours are 9.00 – 5.30pm but what matters is getting the work done that you need to.
We certainly don’t promote a culture of being at your desk after hours for the sake of it, but if you have a deadline to meet then these need to be met and if that means working a little later, then on occasion this needs to happen.
However we also encourage employees to fit their work in around their life, so if that means starting early and finishing early, that is fine (as long as it fits in with your team and your manager). Additionally, if you would rather take a big break in the middle of the day to go to the gym for instance, and work later, that is fine as well.
Applying for a training contract
Here at Shakespeare Martineau it’s about the rounded person - not about the numbers and levels. We are looking for people who have the skills and competencies to be a great lawyer and future star at our firm. We don’t believe that we will find that on a university certificate, but through your application form, your assessment centre and our interview process.
Our CEO, Sarah Walker-Smith recently wrote a blog on our stance on qualifications, you can read the blog here
No. As long as you will have completed the LPC by the time your training contract starts, you will be eligible for a training contract with us.
Additionally, if you are successful in obtaining a training contract offer at Shakespeare Martineau, we will sponsor your LPC.
Not necessarily. We mind little about the quantity of experience, and more about the quality. What did you do, and what did you learn during the experience you gained? And how will that help you in your career as a lawyer?
Additionally, we mind just as much about non-legal work experience as we do legal. Make sure you give us a fully rounded understanding of your experience, challenges overcome, and how it has helped you prepare for your legal career.
That is a tricky question and one that is even more difficult to answer. Many applications we see fall down because they don’t fully read, understand and answer the question. Ensure you know what is expected and make sure you answer this.
In structuring your answer, our advice, at all times is to consider the STAR technique of question response when framing your answers to questions. This will help you answer the question fully.
Finally, double and triple-check your application before you hit that submit button!
From the applications, we will select candidates to attend an assessment centre at the firm. We embrace different ways of working so this may be face to face or virtual. After the assessment centre, strong candidates will be selected for an interview with partners at the firm.
We consider the assessment centre a two-way process – it is as much about working out whether you are right for us, as it is for you to work out whether we are right for you. With this in mind, we fill the assessment days with plenty of opportunities for you to engage with us, providing you with the opportunity to explore the firm and our team and explore whether we are the firm you want to trust to help you develop your legal career.
You can expect a variety of activities which have been designed to test and understand your fit to a role not only as a trainee solicitor, but a future leader at our firm. We appreciate assessment days can be a daunting prospect, and so if selected to attend, we run a ‘welcome event’ in advance of the day to take you through what to expect and to answer any questions you may have.
When considering how to prepare for your assessment centre, we recommend really understanding our business and our ethos, who we are, and the markets we operate in. Understand the role of a solicitor and the skills needed to operate at a high level, and how this will change over the coming years. We value authenticity at Shakespeare Martineau, so when preparing, think about what you are passionate about, what makes you unique, and how you can demonstrate this on the day.
We will, of course, provide feedback on your application should you not be successful in progressing to the interview stage from the assessment centre, or be unsuccessful obtaining a training contract from your interview. You have put a lot of time into us, so we will endeavour to ensure the feedback you receive is not only thorough but also constructive and helpful to you in progressing your legal career.
Unfortunately, due to the high volume of applications we receive, we are unable to provide individual feedback to those who have been unsuccessful in obtaining a place at the assessment centre, but hope you will consider us again in the future.
Your training contract
Before you start each seat, we will meet with you to discuss your interests, career ambitions, and where you would like to go to next.
However, we do need to take the business’ needs into consideration too, so whilst we will do our best, we can’t guarantee you will always get your first choice.
For each seat, you will be assigned a training supervisor, whose role it is to make sure you are developing against the SRA Practice Skills Standards as required. They will make sure you are involved in a range or exciting work aimed to test you and develop you in that area of law.
Additionally, you will have the support of your training principal, and a buddy to help guide you through your role and welcome you into the firm. Aside from this, we are proud of the training we provide internally to all individuals through different online platforms as well as our own programme ‘The Academy’.
We are pleased to be able to offer secondment opportunities to our trainees when the opportunity arises through our client relationships. If a secondment is available while you are a trainee solicitor with us, we make sure you have a supervisor both at the client business and at Shakespeare Martineau to ensure your full training continues to be overseen, and you are developing as needed.
Qualifications and after
Yes, we do (where we can!)
A reduction in time of your training contract is not guaranteed. In order to qualify for time to count you will need to complete an application form and evidence your experience.
Should this be accepted, our ability to confirm that reduction will depend on the availability of an NQ role in the area you wish to qualify into. Should you decide not to qualify at Shakespeare Martineau, we would expect you to complete the full duration of your two-year training contract.
We are proud of the improvements we have made to our retention rate over the years. In 2018, our retention rate was 50%.
This rose to 71% in 2019, and most recently we had an 85% retention rate from our 2020 qualifying trainee solicitors.
We have thrown away the formal appraisal process for all employees at the firm.
Recognising that no two people are the same, we prefer focused and timely conversations, adapted to suit each individuals own developmental goals – helping you get where you want to be!
We know you will want to achieve your best and to help you achieve those goals, we offer support tailored to your needs to help you develop your career, for example, our NQ conference which you will be invited to attend shortly after qualification, mentoring and reverse mentoring opportunities, continued support through our Academy, and through your own line manager.
Whilst we love people to stay with us, unfortunately, we are not able to guarantee a permanent role to trainees.
Appointments to NQ roles depends both on individual performance, and business need. For example, if you are interested in qualifying into a particular area of law where the team is already either at or over capacity, qualification into this area will be more challenging.