How to land a summer associate gig at global law firm White & Case this year, according to 2 hiring partners and top legal recruiters

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White & Case, which ranks consistently among the top law firms in the world, was founded in 1901 by two Wall Street lawyers, Justin DuPratt White and George B. Case. 

Despite its Big Apple roots, the firm has established a global presence, with 44 offices in 30 countries. Named Vault’s best law firm for its international practice, it’s renowned for its multi-jurisdictional cases and transactions, with a client roster that ranges from major financial institutions like Morgan Stanley and Deutsche Bank to tech juggernauts like Facebook and Uber. 

The firm was also singled out as Vault’s top-ranking summer program for social experiences for 2021. White & Case will be attending more than 30 law schools’ on-campus recruiting events this cycle, and will be hiring around 100 students for its upcoming summer associate class, the firm told Insider. Because of the pandemic, many law schools have pushed their OCIs from early in the fall semester to January, and will be taking place online.

Aside from interviewing students through campus OCIs, White & Case has also opened up two additional routes for applying to its summer program. The first is a direct application through its employment portal, which includes virtual screening interviews using the recruitment automation and video-interviewing platform, LaunchPad, where candidates can record answers to five questions like “why White & Case?” and “what makes you a good candidate?”

The firm is also collecting resumes from schools whose OCIs it won’t be attending, expanding the pool of candidates it receives applications from.

Regardless of which method students use to apply to White & Case, here are some tips that two of the firm’s hiring partners and two external recruiters say are key to impressing interviewers.

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Learn about White & Case — and focus on what appeals to you personally

The ability to speak about the firm, and, more importantly, what specifically about the firm attracts you to it is crucial, said Joseph Brazil, US hiring partner at White & Case. This is especially important since interviewers know candidates are also likely speaking with other firms.

“A candidate can put their best foot forward in the interview process if they can show that they have an understanding about the firm: some of the work we’ve done — the cases, the transactions — what we’ve done in the field of social responsibility, and so on,” he said.

Brazil also recommends doing your homework by taking advantage of your school’s career services, who he says have a “very good feel” for discerning the differences between the Big Law firms.

While the website is always a good place to start when it comes to getting to know a firm, you don’t need to read everything on it, advised Ru Bhatt, a partner at the recruiting company Major, Lindsey & Africa who’s worked with the firm for 12 years.

“There is such a thing as overpreparation,” Bhatt said. “Look for the firm’s strengths, and which ones appeal to you. That’s what’s going to set you apart from other candidates.”

Bhatt Ru HighResNetworking with alumni at your law school and any connections at the firm you’re interviewing at is another great way to get first-hand information about a law firm.

“Informational interviewing is all the rage, especially right now with the pandemic,” said Bhatt. “Everyone has a few minutes to chat.”

When reaching out to people, Bhatt advises that you make it easy for the person you’re requesting to chat with by suggesting a few times that would work for both parties, making sure you’re on time, taking notes, and following through on any advice they give you.

And, while you should apply to any position through the correct channels, whether it’s through a school’s OCI or through a firm’s employment portal, let the person you networked with know that you applied.

Understand the firm’s global and collaborative culture

One of the things that you should pay attention to when researching White & Case in particular is its global nature.

Even though the firm has lawyers spread across more than 40 offices around the world, every office is “very connected” with the others, said Heather McDevitt, partner and member of the executive team at White & Case.

“We may be geographically spread out, but we’re very integrated, given the structure of the firm,” McDevitt said, explaining that practices are not organized by individual offices, but by region. An attorney in the firm’s banking group working out of the New York office would collaborate with attorneys at other offices within the Americas, for example.

As a result, the ability to collaborate with a team is essential at White & Case.

Brazil, the hiring partner, added that the skill of diplomatically managing across differences within a team, with clients, and with lawyers “who may be working on the proverbial ‘other side of the table'” is important.

Language skills other than English, while not required, can really help a candidate’s case, too, he said.

White & Case also values an ‘entrepreneurial’ mindset

In addition to someone who works well with others, the firm looks for candidates who have what McDevitt calls an “entrepreneurial” spirit.Nicole Spira

“We were the first New York firm to expand globally, and we want people who are attracted to that type of building,” McDevitt said.

Nicole Spira, a partner and cofounder of Cardinal Search Partners, said that White & Case’s ideal candidate is an “ambitious go-getter” who takes initiative. “It’s important to be business-minded — not just knowing how to work at your desk, but also think from a client’s perspective,” she said.

This is especially important given how central developing client relationships is to the business of law firms, explained Spira, who’s worked with White & Case for 11 years. 

Ace the interview with thoughtful preparation

As they prepare for the interview, Brazil recommends that candidates consider this: “How do I calibrate my message of who I am based on the information I collected about the firm?”

By thinking carefully about what stood out as they researched the firm, candidates can express their interest “in an authentic way,” which interviewers have been trained to gauge.

While the direction of the interview itself can be fluid based on the resume and how the conversation unfolds, some questions interviewers might ask include:

  • How have you dealt with a challenging client or person?
  • How have you dealt with a situation where there seems to be chaos, and how did you apply an organizing principle when there were no clear instructions from your supervisor?
  • How did you deal with a situation where certain members of a team weren’t cooperating?
  • How have you adapted to situations that require a level of nimbleness?

Both Spira and Brazil suggest practicing with video interviewing and paying attention to body positioning and eye contact — even through a webcam.

“It’s so important for establishing a point of connection,” Spira said, adding that asking meaningful questions that show a sincere interest in the firm, and smiling — “people always forget to smile!” — are other ways of connecting with interviewers.

So you’ve landed the job. Now what?

Once you make it to White & Case, taking initiative and leveraging the resources available are keys to success.

McDevitt said that summer associates should start building an internal network by looking for opportunities to work with as many different people as possible, across different offices in the firm’s global network.

Since the summer associate program will likely be at least partially remote in 2021, Spira added that it’s especially important to make sure you’re visible by asking questions and being proactive.

And, of course, socialize to build those connections, advised Bhatt. “It’s a little harder to do with the pandemic, but it’s incumbent on you to meet the firm halfway with their integration efforts,” he said.

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