RPC’s approach to graduate recruitment changed fundamentally last year. The firm now presents a warts-and-all reality of life as a modern-day trainee lawyer to its potential recruits. The repositioning of its programme and campaign to attract its 2013 and 2014 intakes was counter-intuitive in that it became as much about putting some people off as attracting others in. But sometimes it is boldness like that which is required to achieve the desired result. RPC launched the @lifeinalawfirm Twitter feed run by its trainees, began publishing a weekly trainee-run blog and also melded its approach to graduate recruitment and training with the firm's increasing focus on relationship management and personal development. The latter included inviting general counsel to spend time with the current crop of trainees. The result was a significant (35 per cent) increase in applications and a similarly large boost in proposed 2014 trainee intake. Summer 2012 saw the first batch of applications born of the new campaign come through RPC's doors, with 20 high-quality candidates from a broad range of backgrounds offered contracts. The Best Trainee Recruitment Campaign was one of the hardest-fought, consistently strong and most oversubscribed categories in this year's The Lawyer Management awards, and RPC is a highly deserved winner.

2ND: Hogan Lovells

Hogan Lovells has repositioned its graduate recruitment brand to align it with the firm’s commitment to citizenship, diversity and inclusivity and also to convey a realistic view of the demands of working on the complex cutting-edge deals associated with one of the world's largest law firms. The starting point was to research the firm's own junior lawyers and trainees to get to the heart of what it is that makes Hogan Lovells distinctive. The firm turned the feedback into a brand and a message and then, working with a creative consultancy, used these to help develop its communications methods for reaching graduates on campus. The new campaign was launched in the autumn of 2012 and helped Hogan Lovells attract 18 students for its winter vacation scheme, 66 per cent of whom converted to trainees.

3RD: Baker & McKenzie

Baker & McKenzie’s streamlined graduate recruitment process has dramatically cut back on the time required in the process by the firm's partners, associates and its HR team. Indeed, a major focus this year has been to improve the firm's online brand and message, a push that has led to changes to its graduate website and content as well as several other innovative developments. The firm rolled out a bespoke mobile career planner site in January,, which was designed for smartphones and tablets, and introduced the situational judgment test, designed as a talent screener that identifies strong candidates based on behavioural skills, cultural fit and intellectual capabilities.