Linklaters has got rid of its vacation scheme and training contract application form and has replaced it with an online test, in an attempt to make its recruitment process more accessible.

The magic circle firm consulted students and found the traditional application form could take four to five hours to complete. It has come up with a new process that takes around 90 minutes, and is designed to allow applicants “the opportunity to demonstrate their ability to solve problems like a lawyer.”

The system is now live for winter vac scheme applicants.

“We’ve had a ‘lawyer of the future’ project for some time and part of that has involved thinking about how we best recruit in a way that gives us access to the widest pool of candidates, but also gives candidates a better understanding of the job they are applying for,” London graduate recruitment partner Alison Wilson told The Lawyer. The new test asks candidates to envisage themselves in the role of a trainee and work their way through “realistic scenarios to demonstrate the capabilities that Linklaters looks for in trainee lawyers.”

Wilson said the test was more “contextual” than previous situational judgement tests that many firms have used in the past. “Without wishing to disparage them, some of those tests have been a bit 1980s in the way they have been applied,” she said. “Our platform is a more immersive experience: you might get a video giving information about the task, for example, and it is designed to give students an understanding of the trainee role. It’s a blended assessment, so it has different styles of question, and looks for students to demonstrate the full range of mindset criteria.”

Wilson added that the assessment would help students who didn’t have access to a support network to prep them. “Students can prepare by being aware of what the work of a commercial solicitor involves, but not in the sense of having pat reasons for ‘why they want to be a lawyer’,” she said. “We are trying to move away from a system where candidates who are well-prepped will perform better, and get people to apply who might not have the support to write a long application form and have it checked.”

Linklaters launched virtual reality internships earlier this year to help students from disadvantaged backgrounds experience what a commercial law firm might be like.