The BLD Foundation Training Session 1

Bouba Balde, Legal Launch Pad Participant 2016

After an inspirational induction day 2 weeks prior, I was back in London for the first training session on the LLP. In hindsight, Tricia’s email advising us to get plenty of rest the night before was accurate, as this was a long yet rewarding day.

The session began with John Watkins of the University of Law giving us his top 10 tips of what not to do on a CV. There were some important tips included in this that made sure we would not re-write our own CV’s with any of these embedded in them. This was also linked with a CV clinic, where our CV’s were viewed we were given immediate feedback. This was extremely important for me as I was aware my CV was not up to scratch. I was given some brilliant feedback which I know will positively impact my CV.

The focus of the day was clearly on applications and assessment centres, and Ellie Garvey of Pinsent Masons gave a presentation on both of these areas. Some of the tips she gave us were:

·      Research as much as possible

·      In competency based questions, use the STAR technique (Situation, Task, Action, Result)

·      Read your application before the subsequent interview at the assessment centre

·      Build a rapport with the interviewer

These are just a miniscule amount of tips she gave us in her superb presentation, one that shall be of great use when applying for training contracts.

We had all undertaken the COAST psychometric assessments from Criterion Partnership prior to the LLP induction day, so it was time to go through our answers and understand what it all means. This presentation by our own Annabel Burrows helped to clear up some confusion myself and my fellow candidates had after receiving our results and included some important tips to take with us when we next have to complete a psychometric test. Thanks Annabel!

Coming to the end of a hard day, we were split into groups to begin a mock interview. My group were handled by a solicitor at Barclays and previous LLP participant, Stephanie Amoah. Stephanie was brilliant. She gave us some great advice from her own legal career, and tips on how to answer questions and feedback after we answered our own questions. I must admit, the competency based questions were a little difficult! But it was exactly what we needed; some tough questions that will challenge us, so we can utilise the feedback we are given if they come do come up in a real-life situation.

Overall, the training session had a different feeling to the induction day. However, it maintained the inspiration of the former by giving us some invaluable tips and being situated in a beautiful part of Central London at Sidley Austin LLP. Big thanks to Sidley for having us at your amazing offices!

As I finish this blog, I truly feel a part of the Legal Launch Pad Programme 2016 and I cannot wait for the next training session in a month’s time.



Danishe ArshadLegal Launch Pad Participant 2016

Sidley Austin played host to the first training session of this years Legal Launch Pad Programme. Having survived the morning rush hour on a short tube journey from Canary Wharf, I arrived at the offices, for what turned out to be a challenging, yet thoroughly enjoyable day. The day started with registration, which provided a brief opportunity to reconnect with fellow LLP candidates, and to stock up on coffee (I had not yet had my morning fix!) Having settled into our seats, we were formally welcomed by the Managing Partner of Sidley Austin’s London office, Matthew Denning. A short, but very effective presentation titled ‘CVs-What not to do!’ followed this, delivered by the ubiquitous John Watkins. This was the perfect preamble to the next session, namely a small-group CV workshop, which provided a great opportunity to receive tailored advice on how to perfect our individual CVs.

Coffee! After a short break, we received a presentation from recruitment specialist from Pinsent Masons, Ellie Garvey, on ‘Creating an Outstanding Application’. Starting with a brief introduction into Pinsent Masons, the presentation provided a useful insight into the key competencies required at the firm, and furthermore, how best to demonstrate them in an application form. There was also useful discussion surrounding the use of the STAR format in competency-based answers. Next on the agenda was a small group ‘Application Workshop’, and my particular cohort had the pleasure of working with Jonathon Tranter (Legal Counsel at Barclays). Under the microscope was the application that I had submitted for the LLP programme, which was picked apart meticulously by Jonathon. I was provided with constructive feedback, which will invariably help improve future applications. This was followed by a session focussing on the psychometric tests designed by Criterion Partnership that we had been asked to complete prior to attendance, with BLD Foundation’s very own Annabel Burrows providing advice.

Lunch included the opportunity to network with trainees from Sidley Austin, following which we had one of the most beneficial workshops of the day. James Gangar, who is an associate at Pinsent Masons, carried out an assessment centre workshop supported by Annabel Burrows, providing advice on group, case study and E-tray exercises. There was also more general advice on how to improve performance during assessment centres and interviews.


The last session of the day was a mock interview workshop, and my group had the privilege of working with Rafael Vilaplana (Legal Counsel at Barclays). Each member of the group was asked an interview question in turn, and it was especially helpful to have Rafael alter his interview approach to reflect the different types of interviewing personalities we may encounter. It was a truly memorable day, and a great start to an exciting year on the LLP Programme. I would like to express my gratitude for the time and effort of all those involved, from the BLD Foundation and the sponsor firms. 



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