About Reed Smith
Reed Smith LLP is a global law firm with headquarters in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. Reed Smith acquired a UK based law firm in 2001, creating London offices, now their largest, with over 350 lawyers. Reed Smith has in total 30 offices worldwide across four global regions. Offices in addition to London and Pittsburgh include Paris, Munich, Frankfurt and Singapore.
Reed Smith is known for their shipping, media and entertainment, commodities, and insurance work, as well as corporate M&A. Clients globally include almost all of the world's largest commercial and savings banks as well as oil, gas and pharmaceutical distribution and wholesale companies.
Reed Smith has won a host of awards, and the London office performs in the top ten of all US-law firms in the UK by revenue. Unusually for a global firm, Reed Smith also works in the entertainment and media law sector and offers even trainees the chance to work in their pro-bono environmental working group, as well as an “innovation” seat in addition to client and overseas secondments.
Reed Smith Application Process
Reed Smith uses a 'strengths-based assessment approach' to assess potential graduates applying to the Professional SQE, following a straightforward application process that begins with an online application, continues with online tests and a video interview, before successful candidates are invited to attend an assessment day.
The Online Application is the first step in the application process for a role at Reed Smith. During this application, you will need to provide details of your academic qualifications, relevant work experience as well as your activities and interests.
You will want to bear in mind that a strong academic background is required which in most cases will require a 2:1, predicted or achieved.
When choosing your relevant work experience and activities and interests to mention, remember that you want to be able to demonstrate your relevant key skills, which will need to include research, analysis, communication, teamwork, leadership and client relationship skills.
Use the STAR method to ensure that you set out the situation, the task/goal, your action and the result. Keep a copy as you will want to refer to it when preparing for your assessment day in due course.
Situational Strengths Test
Candidates that meet the required criteria are then asked to complete the next stage of the Reed Smith application process, which is a Situational Strengths Task. Taken online, on your home computer, this untimed test considers whether candidates have the required strengths to be a successful lawyer at Reed Smith.
Candidates will be presented with a series of scenarios that are relevant to the day-to-day work that a trainee lawyer might encounter and then rank or prioritise or identify a cause of action in relation to the various scenarios.
This usually takes the form of reading a short paragraph or watching a video (which might be animated or be acted) and then considering three or four statements/actions/possible answers. There may be just one set of statements, or several, for each scenario. The possible options may not include exactly what you might do in response - you may need to prioritise the 'best' or 'most likely' or 'worst' or 'least likely' from their selection.
While there are no right answers, Reed Smith will be looking to find candidates whose strengths, strategy and decision making processes mirror the qualities they have identified as right for the firm. With that in mind, candidates can endeavour to select appropriate responses, although Reed Smith are keen to ensure that candidates answer honestly and are therefore genuinely a good fit for the firm.
All candidates will receive feedback.
On-demand Video Interview
Successful candidates will then be invited to participate in a video interview. This will take place at your home and can be taken on a phone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer. Also, strengths-based, it will give you the chance to demonstrate your desire and commitment for becoming a lawyer, as well as your knowledge and understanding of Reed Smith in particular.
In preparation for your interview, you should remember that a strengths-based interview is not the same as a competency-based interview - you are not looking to demonstrate that you have specific competencies (e.g. academic qualifications, or language skills) but rather that you have the natural skills and passions to be - and enjoy being - a successful lawyer.
You will want to prepare by carrying out practice interviews and ensure you have prepared answers to all of the usual sorts of questions in relation to how others would describe you, what you are passionate about, what you enjoy and are proud of, what you don't enjoy and why, and so on. This will be a more personal interview and you may have to discuss your feelings, so be prepared.
You will also need to have fully researched Reed Smith using a variety of sources and have interesting and insightful questions to ask. There is no feedback provided at this stage.
Those that meet the required benchmark in the strengths-based interview are invited to attend the Reed Smith assessment day where you will be invited to carry out further tasks and interviews.
Case study exercise
This is similar to a verbal reasoning test as it assesses your ability to comprehend information. You will be given a written case study and will then be asked a series of questions relating to the material that you will have just read.
There is no need to prepare in advance for the case study exercise meaning that you can't learn anything specific to assist you, but you can practise verbal reasoning tests so that you are practiced at reading new information and assessing that information to find the answers to questions. Taking timed practice sessions will help you read quickly but efficiently. You can also practice writing concise and accurate answers to questions.
The second written task at the assessment day will test your ability to communicate effectively and is again similar to a verbal reasoning test.
Make sure that you are prepared for further interviews, and are able to demonstrate your commercial awareness.