About Irwin Mitchell
As one of the largest full service law firms in the UK, Irwin Mitchell is a leading provider of legal services for both businesses and individuals. Founded in Sheffield back in 1912, it now has 15 offices nationwide with some 2,800 employees.
It's personal legal services include family law, personal injury, conveyancing, tax, medical negligence and wills, trusts and estates. For businesses, it offers a broad range of solutions such as employment, pensions, banking and finance, restructuring and insolvency, and commercial law.
For aspiring solicitors, Irwin Mitchell offers two year training contracts at 11 of its UK offices. Applicants can choose to follow either a business or personal services route, and will complete three six month seats and one six month qualification seat. Around 80% of those that complete a training contract go on to a newly qualified position with the company.
The firm also offers two week legal work placements that take place every summer. Candidates that complete these placements are more likely to be awarded a training contract, so it's advisable that you take this route when making your application.
Undergraduates and graduates from both legal and non-legal backgrounds are welcome to apply to Irwin Mitchell. Applications open in November and follow a three stage process as outlined below.
The process is designed to identify the strongest talent, with around just 60 placements available each year. With that in mind, it's imperative that you make your application stand out from the crowd, and fully prepare for each assessment stage.
Online Application Form
As you'd expect, the Irwin Mitchell recruitment process starts with an online application. This is a standard form that gives the firm a chance to learn more about you, your achievements, and your motivations.
There is no requirement to upload a CV or cover letter here. Instead, you'll provide all relevant information on the form itself. This will include details on your reasons for applying and why you see yourself as a strong candidate.
As mentioned, recruitment starts in November each year, and you have around two months from then to submit your online application form.
Successful applicants will then progress to stage two, a video interview which will typically be held in February. This is a one way interview. You'll be asked a series of questions via a prerecorded video, and will have around two minutes to record your response to each.
Questions will delve into your skills, experience and knowledge of Irwin Mitchell. The hiring team is looking for real world examples of your skills in action, so adopt the STAR method when constructing your answers. Also keep in mind the key traits the firm looks for in employees. These include:
Communication and interpersonal skills
Problem solving skills
Attention to detail
The last stage of the process is attendance at an Irwin Mitchell assessment centre. These take place in March and April, and are typically held at the office location you have applied to work at.
Throughout the day you'll complete various tasks designed to measure a range of competencies - each of these tasks is outlined below. This is your opportunity to make a strong impression in person, so make sure you take the time to fully prepare. Again, keep in mind those key traits, as you'll be closely assessed on them here.
In the group exercise, you'll get a chance to engage and work with your fellow applicants on a specified task. It's impossible to predict the exact requirements of the task, but as a general rule you'll need to work together to solve a hypothetical problem. This may involve devising a strategy, making recommendations, or giving a presentation on key findings.
You'll be assessed on both your own ideas and your ability to work as part of a team. To perform well, be sure to make a valuable contribution whilst being attentive and open to the thoughts of your colleagues.
Instruction Taking Exercise
The instruction taking exercise is an individual written task. It measures not only how well you respond to direction, but also your sense of professional judgement. Again, it's impossible to detail the precise task you'll be given, but it will be based on a hypothetical scenario that is a common occurrence in the workplace. These are non-legal scenarios, since the objective is to get a sense of working style, not your knowledge of the law.
You may be asked to respond to a situation that is client related, or one that is office based, but in either case it's important to note that there is no 'right answer'. What's under assessment is your approach to the scenario and your understanding of what constitutes professional behaviour. Remember those key skills such as problem solving, initiative and communication.
Your face to face interview will be conducted by an Irwin Mitchell partner. It will build on your video interview, exploring your skills, experience and knowledge of the firm in more detail. When it comes to skills and experience, the questions will be predominantly competency based, so again, use the STAR method to clearly demonstrate how you have applied these skills in the past. Don't worry if you don't have much professional experience - it's fine to use examples from your academic career or personal life.
You'll also be expected to have done your research on the firm, and the wider sector as a whole. This is a key opportunity for you to prove your commercial awareness.
Watson Glaser Critical Thinking Test
The Watson Glaser Critical Thinking Test is an aptitude test widely used for recruitment in the legal sector. It is a timed, multiple choice exam that measures your critical thinking ability, a key skill for anyone working in this profession.
The test itself has five sections:
Assessment of inferences
Recognition of assumptions
Evaluation of arguments
There are around 40 questions in total, which together assess your ability to analyse, interpret and evaluate information objectively, to understand what constitutes a weak or strong argument, and to draw sound, evidence based conclusions.
Questions are presented as statements or passages of text, which you'll need to study to determine if an accompanying conclusion logically follows, if an assumption has or has not been made, or the strength of a given argument. As with any form of aptitude test, practice is key to ensuring a strong performance on the Watson Glaser.
Following on from the assessment centre, you can expect to hear from Irwin Mitchell by July as to whether or not your application has been successful.