The life of a law student campus ambassador

Ahead of this year’s application deadline, York Uni second year Lee Turner explains how he used his position with King & Wood Mallesons to bag a vac scheme

Matt Cornock on Flickr via Creative Commons
Matt Cornock on Flickr via Creative Commons

One of the reasons that Lee Turner chose to study at York was because the university teaches law using a problem-based learning technique that sees each student assigned to their own ‘law firm’.

Of his university’s innovative teaching style, he explains:

At York you are put into a student law firm, containing 12 students. Every week you are given two scenarios that you brainstorm together to identify the legal principles involved in the problem and unravel the legal and contextual issues that lie at the heart of it. Then you do your independent research and feedback on what you found. We do that for most modules, and in Legal Skills we regularly partake in mock client interviews and even negotiations with other student law firms.

It’s great practice for commercial law — a field that Turner is determined to pursue. Indeed, he has just moved a step closer towards this goal by securing a vacation scheme at the London office of King Wood Mallesons (KWM), the global firm where he is currently York University’s campus ambassador.

Turner believes that the combination of problem-based learning and the KWM role has given him an edge over students at more traditional universities, who tend to consider their job prospects at a later stage.

Certainly being a campus ambassador has been great,” he says, “not only in giving me experience of holding a position of responsibility but also in terms of developing relationships at KWM, especially with its graduate recruitment department and trainees.

Drawn to KWM by its strong presence in Asia, Turner followed up a meeting with the firm at a law fair and at KWM’s open day in his first year with an application for its campus ambassador position this time last year. An assessment day at KWM’s City of London office followed, during which Turner and the other hopefuls were required to deliver a presentation about how they would opt to spend £500 to promote the firm on campus.

Turner’s Asian-themed event idea impressed the judges, and he emerged from a crowded field to secure the coveted York KWM campus ambassador position — one of nine the firm offers around the country. The others are at the universities of Bristol, Durham, Nottingham, Warwick, Leeds, LSE, UCL, KCL and Manchester. You can apply for this year’s positions here. Turner recalls:

The campus manager interview was my first experience of a City law firm, and certainly being assessed by one. It proved to be a great experience in the vac scheme interview I recently successfully completed, which comes as part of the campus manager role.

Turner’s main responsibility has been organising KWM’s big event at York University in October last year — which he helped secure a record attendance at through lecture shout-outs, social media promotion and a partnership with Aspiring Solicitors, for which he is also an ambassador.

The Darlington-born rookie has also been on hand to assist students find out more about the firm throughout the year, giving them a steer about what makes the global giant different. In doing so, he has filled them in on the groundbreaking 2013 tie-up between elite London firm SJ Berwin, leading Chinese outfit King & Wood and Australian aristocrat Mallesons that saw KWM come into being in its present form.

As Turner has got to know the legal market, he has worked hard to develop his commercial awareness by reading legal and financial news titles. It’s that combination of wider market knowledge, understanding of the firm and ease with applying the law to practical situations that he thinks got him the vac scheme. And his advice to first year students seeking to land the KWM campus manager role this year — for which the deadline is 29 April — develops on those fundamentals. He comments:

Do the research into the firm. KWM is unique in a lot of ways, and you need to demonstrate your awareness of that and why it interests you. It also helps to speak to previous campus ambassador, even ones from other firms. They will give you an insight broadly into the interview process, which most students won’t have experienced before.

Apply here to become a KWM campus ambassador.

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