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When I was invited along to a CMS Cameron McKenna open day I was expected to be plied with chocolate biscuits and cups of coffee. But it couldnt have been further from the truth. It was blooming hard work.
Having arrived almost an hour late (incidentally - I did have a good excuse) I was taken straight to a seminar room with 30 odd students where graduate recruitment partner Simon Pilcher was doing his presentation. I was expecting the usual nonsense about how fantastic it is to work at Camerons blah, blah.
But thankfully Simon was refreshingly honest about his own experiences of training as a solicitor and the challenges the legal market faces in light of the credit crunch. Whats more, he even admitted to the firms graduate recruitment video being a bit cheesy. I have to say I tended to agree with him.
After Simons presentation I was expecting a coffee break but as they say theres no rest for the wicked and we launched straight in a commercial awareness workshop involving a fascinating group exercise on the sale of a pharmaceuticals business.
This was followed by a much deserved lunch of beef stroganoff, pork pies and scotch eggs (a bit randon I know but tasty nonetheless). And in case youre wondering, I managed to eat it all without any spillages and even squeezed in a few conversations with some of the students who seemed to find the open day very informative.
After lunch came the office tour (keep an eye out for my forthcoming piece on law firm offices), a negotiation skills exercise and a presentation from a member of Camerons' real estate team.
Feeling exhausted I was ready to slope off by the time Id heard about the work of real estate lawyers but glad I stuck around for the presentation given by graduate recruitment officer Vicki Wisson on how to crack application forms, interviews and assessment days.
So what did I learn from the Camerons' open day? Well lots. Firstly, though some open days can be tiring they're a brilliant way of finding out more about a law firm and the culture it operates in. Secondly, the exercises are great practice for when you have to attend an assessment centre for real (nobody from Camerons graduate recruitment team sits through them so it doesnt matter if you ask silly questions). Thirdly, they obviously look good on your application forms so it's worth doing several with different types of firms.
Indeed, if you missed out on a vacation scheme then its definitely worth securing a few open day places because some firms including Camerons dont operate minimum entrance requirements. So a place can be just a phone call away.