Becky is the Head of Talent Acquisition at CMS, based in London.
What do you enjoy most and least about your role?
The best bit is meeting people, spotting top talent, seeing them come through the process, and go on to join an organisation where they can grow and flourish. The hardest part is giving constructive feedback to individuals who haven’t been successful at such an important time in their lives, when they’re really keen to secure a training contract or apprenticeship.
What is the most common mistake you see candidates making, apart from the obvious typos?
Not being able to strike the balance between being too quiet and trying to take all the limelight! Candidates that get it right will do well. Also, you need to really tailor your application – if it’s so generic that you can replace our name with the name of a different firm, and it all still applies, then you are unlikely to get through. Make sure you really understand what our firm is about and why you would want to join us.
What are the attributes you look for in a trainee or solicitor apprentice that are particularly suited to your firm?
Tenacity, resilience, determination, attention to detail, diversity of thought, flexible thinking, innovation, collaboration, and a willingness to want to contribute and make a difference.
What advice would you give to anyone thinking of joining the legal profession?
Commercial awareness is key, so you must develop that. You also need to understand that much of what you’re taught at school or university is theoretical, so when it comes to practice, things will be different. You are not expected to know everything straight away, we are about continual self-development and growth.
What is one key fact that you expect candidates to know about your firm?
The details of our merger – including why the three firms came together, what it has meant for the organisation and the history of the legacy firms. That’s really important; it’s not just about joining the firm, it’s also about where we’ve come from and where we’re going.
Is it essential to do a vacation scheme at CMS in order to secure a training contract?
Our next-generation vacation scheme, the CMS Academy, is integral as we typically only offer training contracts to people who have been through it. It involves one week in the London office, with everyone from the regional offices coming together to focus on “the business of law”. It is an intense, high-energy week, with speakers including the executive partner, client visits, networking, a corporate responsibility evening … it’s action packed! It’s fully assessed, to give us a view of whether the students meet our key competencies. Then it’s back to the home offices for a more traditional, two-week scheme.