Herbert Smith Freehills Training Contract Application Model Answers
Please describe your key achievements, any language skills that you may have and outline any extracurricular activities that you undertake. (Give details of any scholarships, university awards or prizes and state any positions of responsibility held.)
I have received a ‘[award name]’ award for attaining the highest grades at GCSE and A-Level in my institutions of study. Firstly, I am a third year law representative for the student-staff liaison committee where I am responsible for communicating student concerns about the operation of the [university] Law School to staff in regular meetings. Secondly, I am a very pro-active member of the [university] [language] Speaking Society ([SOCIETY INITIALS]) whereby I am actively involved in organising and managing [SOCIETY INITIALS] socials. Being an executive of the [SOCIETY INITIALS] entails me having to both communicate with members and prepare written and spoken material such as handouts, emails, and speeches in [language]. Thirdly, I am a very zealous member of the ‘[society]’ society as I feel that it is the task of humans to help the environment. In the past I have been in projects aimed to save electricity and helping the local wildlife, such as switching off unused computers in the library during vacation breaks. Fourthly, I am regularly involved in mooting competitions where I get the opportunity to exercise my analytical and advocacy skills amongst like-minded individuals in a competitive environment. On a sportier note, I greatly enjoy amateur [Sport]. With over fifty amateur bouts I have [done the sport] at national level and represented England in the Four Nations Tournament. Currently, I am responsible for training a large group of students at the [University].
Identify a current commercial issue which has attracted your attention recently. Why do you consider it to be significant? Who are the key stakeholders in this situation and what are the implications for those concerned?*
Recently, I was attracted by takeover of the iconic British chocolate manufacturer Cadbury by the US food conglomerate Kraft.
This takeover is significant because it had signalled a reform of City takeover code. The main premise for the reform is that the takeover rules should be changed to benefit companies' workforces rather than short-term City speculators following the Cadbury sale. The market fundamentalists argue that strong companies take over weak companies and that therefore across the economy there is a net gain greater than the individual pain in the company that has been taken-over. But it is far from clear that this is what really motivates mergers. Following the extensive media coverage of banker bonuses has generated a view that it is the banks who really profit from this takeover, and Cadbury’s is no exception. One driver of the financial bubble has been that banks ended up serving their own bonus culture at the expense of both customers and shareholders. Short-term market pressures encourage mergers and acquisitions irrespective of whether they make long term economic sense for their shareholders, their employees or the wider economy. This takeover raises some fundamental questions about the over-active market for corporate control and the destruction of shareholder (and other stakeholder) value that goes with it. Having closely observed and followed the Cadbury takeover and drawing on my knowledge from the ‘Law of Business Organisations’ module, I am of opinion that it would be beneficial to have a requirement for shareholders and not just the board of directors in bidding companies to have access to independent advice to make up their minds on any bid.
The key stakeholders in this takeover bid are the Cadbury’s employees and shareholders, and Kraft shareholders. For Kraft shareholders the acquisition is potentially advantageous because it will create the world's largest confectionery group with sales of nearly £37 billion, thus suggesting higher share prices and therefore greater dividends. The takeover of Cadbury will raise fears of job losses at Cadbury, which employs 45,000 people worldwide, including more than 9,000 in Britain. Unite, the trade union, has warned that Kraft plans at least 10,000 job cuts worldwide to slash costs and repay the cash it will need to borrow for the deal. Under the deal that Roger Carr, Cadbury’s chairman, has agreed to recommend to shareholders, Kraft will pay 840p for each Cadbury share and agree to pay a 10p-per-share dividend, making 850p in total. This represents a substantial increase on the 761p or so that Kraft’s original offer was worth and is pitched at about the price a majority of Cadbury’s shareholders had indicated they were seeking.
What is your motivation for seeking a career in a commercial law firm, and why specifically at Herbert Smith?*
I am interested in corporate and commercial law because it will allow me to assume the role of a project manager and will vest me with early responsibility. Given that commercial law is both transactional and ongoing suggests that I will have to build a rapport with the client and apply strong communication skills coupled with high technical ability when forming a clear picture of the client’s needs and objectives and then explaining what may well be a complex area of law when advising on the best solution. This may require me to liaise with a number of legal departments thus making each day unique, enjoyable and fulfilling work experience. Having worked for a number of private clients at leading legal and commercial firms, [law firm] and [company name], I can attest to the importance of building and maintaining professional relationships. As a commercial city lawyer I will gain experience in dealing with a diverse range of clients which will improve my commercial perspective and resultantly my ability to deliver effective and timely solutions to individual client needs.
I am specifically attracted to Herbert Smith because it possesses a large international legal practice with over 1,200 lawyers across Asia, Europe and the Middle East. This, combined with an alliance with Gleiss Lutz and Stibbe and a network of relationship firms, enables Herbert Smith to provide a seamless, cross-border service on a global level. Whilst undertaking an advanced competition law module I developed an interest in comparing multiple jurisdictions. I was particularly attracted by the Microsoft judgment which produced a split between US and EC concerning the fundamental aim of competition law: consumer welfare. I am also attracted by the prospect of going on secondment to a client or to one of the firm's international offices. By undertaking a secondment to a client or international office, I will get an opportunity to exercise my [language], English and [language] languages in a legal context. My ability to switch between languages highlights my good communication skills and flexibility. I work very well with all kinds of people, and understand that everyone has different perspectives about projects and work tasks, so when I work with others I realise that everyone comes to the table with different priorities and objectives. I keep this in mind when I communicate tasks that need to be accomplished with positive reinforcement and awareness of what others are working on.