Open, open to law, open to you.

An event designed to provide university students with a disability or long-term health condition an insight into the true nature of the opportunities for university students interested in pursuing a career in commercial law.

Open is being held on Friday 27th November 2015. Open is designed to help you develop your understanding of the industry as well as to address any concerns you may have in relation to managing your disability in the work place. Participating firms include Allen and Overy, Ashurst, Clifford Chance, Freshfields, Hogan Lovells, Linklaters, Reed Smith and Slaughter and May.

This website is a bright and colourful site with eight sections with the headings of About us, The event, Who attends, The Firms, Register, Past events, Gallery and Profiles.

If you would like to attend the event, please register your interest apply with your CV and cover letter. There is an online form in the ‘Register’ section where you can upload your CV and cover letter, or you can email with your CV or to find out more information.

Next Event

28 November 2017

Register Here

Ambitious, disabled and considering a career in commercial law?

This uniquely interactive event is designed to provide people with a disability or long term health condition an insight into the true nature of the opportunities for University Students interested in pursuing a career in commercial law.

With contributions from some of the world’s leading law firms, it will help you to develop your understanding of the industry and the support that is available. The event will also cover how best to approach the application and selection process, as well as provide the opportunity to meet those already working in the industry who have first hand experience of disability.

Attending will help give you the confidence and direction you need to overcome your concerns and make the most of your potential.

The Event

OPEN is designed to help you to develop your understanding of the industry as well as to address any concerns you may have in relation to managing your disability in the workplace.

During the day there will be a number of sessions each carefully designed to provide you with as much information about the industry, whether it’s right for you, how to apply, and the support that is available to you.

Sessions include:

• An introduction to law
• Disclosing your disability and requesting adjustments
• Recruiter led skills sessions: the recruitment process
• Panel discussions with senior representatives from participating law firms
• Networking with law representatives: an opportunity to meet representatives from the firms

Who should attend

This event is for anyone with concerns that their potential to develop an exciting and rewarding career in law might be compromised by the fact that they have a disability or long term health condition – visible or otherwise. Equally, you may be concerned that the kind of long hours, pressures and travel we typically associate with life at a top law firm, may present a barrier.

OPEN is targeted at first, second and final year students who are studying law or non-law degree subjects. You may be interested in a vacation scheme/internship or a training contract in commercial law and want to find out more. Alternatively, you may not think that commercial law is for you, but are prepared to keep an open mind.

In addition to telling you more about careers in the legal sector, this event also aims to address the issue of managing your disability in the workplace. One of the key objectives of OPEN is to take an honest look at the issue of discussing your disability with a future employer. The event will explore the responsibilities of both employer and employee to ensure that any necessary adjustments are put in place.

Academic requirements

A career in law is intellectually challenging. You need a strong academic background to succeed, and the determination to undertake demanding training. If you are to attend, you should have achieved good grades at A-level (300+ UCAS points or equivalent) and be studying any discipline at degree level (finishing in 2018, 2019 or 2020). Places are limited at the event. We will be looking for, but not exclusively screening on: academics, extra curricular activities, work experience and motivation to apply. Of course we will take any mitigating circumstances you may provide into account.

The Firms

Click on a company below to view their profile

Baker & McKenzie
Herbert Smith Freehills
Hogan Lovells
Slaughter and May
Baker & McKenzie

The firm

With 77 offices in 47 countries, and a presence in all leading financial centres, Baker McKenzie is the world’s leading global law firm. Our strategy is to provide the best combination of local legal and commercial knowledge, international expertise and resources. Our trainee solicitors are a vital part of that strategy, exposed to the international scope of the firm from the moment they start. There is also the possibility of an overseas secondment, recent secondees have spent time in Brussels, Moscow, Sydney, Singapore, Johannesburg and Hong Kong.

Types of work

London is home to the firm’s largest office where Baker & McKenzie has been well established since its opening in 1961. With more than 400 legal professionals, we have a substantial presence in the legal and business community.

As a full-service office, we deliver high-quality local solutions across a broad range of practices and offer global advice in conjunction with our international offices. Our client base consists primarily of venture capital funds, investment banks, technology powerhouses and household name brands. And as a firm with a very strong international client base, we have considerable expertise in acting on, and coordinating, complex crossborder transactions and disputes.

Why diversity is important to us

Baker & McKenzie are committed to attracting, developing and retaining diverse talent. We believe a diverse workforce is a stronger workforce and better able to serve the clients and communities we operate in. Because of this, Inclusion & Diversity form a key part of our office strategy in London. We are committed to creating an environment where people feel able to be themselves, because we believe you perform at your best when you feel comfortable in your work environment. In a recent staff survey, 98% of our people agree with the statement “this office values diversity in it’s workforce“ and 90% of those attending video interviews for our graduate programme cite our commitment to Inclusion & Diversity as the factor differentiating us from other firms. We are extremely proud to support OPEN 2017!


Details of our Training Contract, Vacation Schemes, Open Days and First Year Insight Scheme can be found on our website, along with application open and close dates –

Herbert Smith Freehills

Firm Overview

Deals and mergers. Arbitration and advocacy. Litigation and disputes. We’ve got it all. And because we’re one of the world’s leading law firms, we also work with some of the biggest international organisations on some of their most ambitious projects.

We’re truly global. We’re market-leaders with 2,900 lawyers in 26 offices across Asia, Australia, Europe, the Middle East and the USA – making us the eighth biggest law firm in the world. Working across borders is a key part of our philosophy. And, thanks to the quality of our international network, we’re able to offer our clients both domestic and cross-border services, meaning you’ll get the opportunity to do truly global work.

Our work is incredibly varied. We provide top quality tailored legal advice to major corporations, governments and financial institutions as well as different types of commercial organisations. Our dispute resolution practice is number one in the UK, Asia and Australia, and includes both our leading international arbitration practice and award-winning in-house advocacy unit – meaning we can offer a complete litigation service and realistic alternative to the bar. And that’s not all. Our other practice areas include finance, competition, regulation and trade and real estate and employment, as well as specialist areas like intellectual property and tax. Plus we lead the market in corporate. Herbert Smith Freehills prides itself on being a world class law firm that brings together the best people to achieve the best results for clients.

Herbert Smith Freehills is a place where you don’t have to choose between global exposure and supportive teams. Between technical excellence and a client led approach. Between pushing yourself and leading the way. So if you’ve got the drive to make the most of the opportunities on offer, plus the ambition to become a brilliant lawyer, don’t compromise. Be a part of everything at Herbert Smith Freehills.

2017/18 Careers opportunities

Training Contract
Salary: 1st year; £44,000, 2nd year; £48,000; NQ; up to £90,000
Deadline: Jan 2018
Locations: London

On our two-year training programme, you’ll develop skills across a range of practice areas and get stuck into real work for real clients – giving you the experience you’ll need to make your career with us a success.

The programme itself is extremely varied. Working alongside some of the world’s best lawyers, you’ll rotate through four six month seats in different practice areas and spend valuable time in both corporate and dispute resolution. Over 90% of our trainees go on either a client or international secondment, but you can also choose to experience finance, real estate, or a specialist practice area like employment, pensions and incentives, competition, regulation and trade, tax or intellectual property. Wherever you spend your time, you’ll be doing work of real value and be valued for your contribution.

Applications for our training contracts will be open to all graduates and final year students from 1 Oct 2017 – Jan 2018.

Vacation Schemes – Winter, Spring & Summer

Our vacation schemes are a great introduction to life at Herbert Smith Freehills. Not only will you gain first-hand experience working at a leading global law firm, but you’ll get paid while you do it.

Applications open for Winter: 18 September – 23 October 2017

Applications open for Spring: 18 Spetember – 29 December 2017

Applications open for Summer: 18 September – 29 December 2017

Training Contract: 18 September – 29 December 2017

To find out more information, please visit the HSF graduates website:

Why Diversity is important to us

We’re proud of our culture. It’s supportive and it’s non-hierarchical. When you join us as a trainee, you’ll find that your growth is supported at all levels across the firm – whether you’re working on a high-profile takeover, catching up with an overseas client or taking on some challenging pro bono work. It’s an environment that will give you the skills you need to become a brilliant lawyer. And it’s an environment in which your perspective, ideas and experiences will make a real difference.

We have a culture of fairness, equality and inclusion. Wherever you join us, you’ll find talented people with different views, experiences and backgrounds. Our people come from a diverse range of backgrounds, have a huge range of perspectives and work on a wide variety of different projects. It’s this diversity that underpins our success. And it’s this diversity that makes Herbert Smith Freehills such a welcoming place to work.

A rich and diverse culture adds new dimensions to how we tackle client challenges, drives innovation and keeps us working with the best talent.

Hogan Lovells

Company profile

A practical, straight-talking approach to law. Open, honest and deep relationships with prestigious clients. Training that keeps on evolving. A global community where everyone is on the same wavelength – but always encouraged to be themselves. This is the dynamic that sets Hogan Lovells apart. Everyone pushes themselves to find smarter, bolder solutions; there is a collective desire to share knowledge and work collaboratively; and as a global firm, this applies no matter where we operate. with 2,500 lawyers working in 49 offices across 26 countries, the close-knit culture that exists between these offices is part of our everyday lives. And now, you can experience this first-hand.

2017/18 opportunities

Information on the dates and application deadlines of all our opportunities can be found on our website at

Why diversity is important to us

Our commitment to being a diverse and inclusive place to work is at the core of our vision and our values. The firms that combined to form Hogan Lovells each have a long history of being committed to recruiting, retaining, and promoting lawyers and others with diverse backgrounds and experiences. We believe that promoting diversity is simply the right thing to do and is an integral part of Hogan Lovells.

Our success as a global firm depends on our ability to attract and retain the brightest, and to foster a work environment where people of all backgrounds and experiences can reach their full potential, regardless of such factors as race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, gender, age, sexual orientation or disability.

To find out more about our approach to disability, please have a look at our profile page on – click here to view.

Careers website

Application Deadlines

Information on the dates and application deadlines of all our opportunities can be found on our website at


Company profile

Join Linklaters and you become part of one of the world’s most prestigious law firms – a global network of exceptionally talented lawyers working together to fulfil our ambition of becoming the leading global law firm.

Linklaters recruits a diverse mix of graduates from a wide range of universities and backgrounds. Non-law graduates spend a conversion year at law school taking the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) and all graduates complete the Legal Practice Course (LPC) before starting their training contracts. This is structured around four six-month seats, designed to build your knowledge to equip you for your long-term career.

2017/18 opportunities

Dates for our 2017/2018 opportunities are still to be confirmed.

Why diversity is important to us

Being a global organisation means much more than having offices around the world. If we are to be the leading global law firm, we have to have a team that reflects the cultures and values of the communities and arenas in which we work. It is the business case that puts inclusivity and diversity at the core of our performance – rather than being a sentiment or a notional requirement. It extends into many different areas of our firm, from recruitment, training and support within the workplace, to a growing investment in local communities and projects.

As an organisation we value difference and we want to make sure that we attract talented people from the widest possible pool. Once people are here, we aim to create an inclusive working environment where everyone can excel.

To find out more about our approach to disability, please have a look at our profile page on – click here to view.

Careers website

Application Deadlines

For all deadlines please visit our careers website link above.

Slaughter and May

Company profile

Slaughter and May is widely regarded as one of the most prestigious law firms in the world. We advise on high profile and groundbreaking international transactions and have an excellent and varied client list which ranges from private equity boutiques to investment banks, from wealthy individuals to governments, from retailers to entertainment companies, and from diversified industrial conglomerates to premier league football clubs.

Worldwide there are 114 partners and a total of more than 1,100 people of whom over 400 are associates and 173 are trainees.

The firm is organised into groups which undertake a general spread of work encouraging lawyers to work on an extensive range of financial and commercial matters as well as developing an expertise in specialist areas. Much of the work spans the globe with transactions involving not only the firm’s overseas offices but also leading independent law firms in other jurisdictions.

Our Opportunities

There are approximately 75-80 vacancies for trainee solicitors per year. During the two year training period trainees gain experience of a broad cross-section of our practice taking an active part in the work of four or five groups, sharing an office with a partner or experienced associate.Our offices in London, Hong Kong, Brussels and Beijing combined with our extensive and meaningful relationships with market leading firms around the world allows us to deliver the most incisive advice available. The international nature of our practice means that our trainees and associates have the opportunity to work abroad either in our overseas offices or on secondment to other law firms with whom we work.

Work Experience Schemes

We run work experience schemes at Easter and during the summer for students in the penultimate year of their degree. Our schemes are organised to enable you to experience a City lawyer’s life as it actually is. We make a special effort to involve you in our work so you get beyond the theory and see our practice in action. In addition there are a series of seminars and talks about our clients, the work of the firm and what it takes to be a lawyer. We also run two-day Winter Workshops for law and non-law finalists and graduates and 1st Year Open Days for law students in April.

Why is diversity important to us

We endeavour to treat everyone – both inside and outside the firm – with attention, courtesy, respect and consideration. We also aim to ensure that our employment opportunities are open and accessible to all based on individual qualities and personal merit. The principles of equal opportunity and diversity are fundamental to our continuing success. They are part of our philosophy and an essential feature of our practice.


Applications for training contracts and work experience schemes should be made using our online system which can be accessed via our website. You will be asked to complete a short form and to attach a copy of your c.v. and covering letter, deadline dates are advertised on our website and we are currently open for applications. If you are unable to complete an online application and wish to discuss how to apply by an alternative method, please contact the Trainee Recruitment Team on 020 7600 1200 or by email at


Please check your eligibility under the ‘who should attend’ section of the website. Please note that this event is only open for people with a disability or long term health condition. If you do not satisfy these conditions your are not eligible to apply and your application will not be accepted.

If you’d like to attend the event on 28 November 2017, please register your interest by entering your details in the form below. We will be accepting attendees from August until November 2017.

Any queries please email:

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Past Events

For the past seven years, the OPEN events have been successful with engaging with first, second and third year disabled students from across the UK to tackle misconceptions about the exclusivity of law firms, and give students the information and knowledge to build their confidence.

Please select a year below to find out more:


Season | 2011

The OPEN Legal Sector Careers event took place on 11 January 2011 at the offices of Allen & Overy in London.

Trainees, partners and recruiters from Linklaters, Hogan Lovells, Clifford Chance, Freshfields and Allen & Overy came to meet talented disabled students and graduates aspiring to a career in law. Those selected to attend this prestigious event were given unique opportunities to meet their future employers and to ask searching questions about disability and recruitment in their organisations.

Caroline Lindner of Allen & Overy welcomed the assembly and introduced Avril Martindale, Partner at Freshfields, who spoke about the path to becoming a lawyer, the key skills and attitudes for success and the importance of diversity within the legal profession. This was followed by six ten-minute rounds of talks by representatives of the law firms, who rotated around the room speaking and answering questions about their work and personal route into law.

After lunch, motivational speaker Jim Harvey delivered a Personal Impact FasterClass, demonstrating the importance self-awareness, positivity and confidence at interview. Helen Cooke, Disability and Recruitment Expert ran a training session for the employers on the subject of building disability confidence followed by a presentation for all attendees on ‘Requesting and Implementing Adjustments: A two-way process’.

The afternoon continued with a hugely informative panel session featuring experts from across law and disability. Helen Cooke was joined by Caroline Rawes from Linklaters’ recruitment, Giles Hutt, Head of Hogan Lovells’ Disability Network, Husnara Begum, former lawyer and Editor of ‘Lawyer 2B’ magazine and Jamile Ferreira, lawyer at Freshfields. Several members of the panel were able to share their own experiences of having a disability within the legal profession. The event concluded with a drinks and canapés networking reception.

Feedback from the law firms and the student attendees has been overwhelmingly positive. Employers felt they had gained new insight into disabled applicants’ aspirations and needs and valued one-to-one conversations with the delegates:

Open was a very important event for Allen & Overy, and the legal sector, to be involved in. As an employer, we have gained greater knowledge and confidence about disabilities, and we look forward to being involved in the next Open event so that we can continue to meet individuals seriously considering a career in law. – Caroline Lindner, Allen & Overy

Feedback from the delegates:

“I used to think there was no point applying, but after this event I’m inspired to finally send off the applications I’ve been working on all this time”.

“Today I feel like an ordinary person. I don’t have to pretend to be anything. I feel I’ve been treated as an equal and that I actually have a chance”.

“Jim (motivational speaker) was brilliant. I enjoyed hearing the panel talk about their own experiences, which I think helped people to get over their worry that firms won’t take them seriously”.

“The representatives demonstrated that they really ‘meant it’ in their wish to attract those best disabled applicants who met their formal competency requirements. It was very motivating to understand that the recruitment process encouraged a ‘level playing field’ for disabled candidates like me”.

“I found the whole day very inspiring and it has been a huge boost to my confidence. I finally feel ready to start the rather daunting law application process and I hope these kind of events will become a permanent fixture”.



Season | 2012

The OPEN Legal Sector Careers event took place on 3 February 2012 at the offices of Linklaters in Central London. This year, two additional firms – Ashurst and Eversheds – joined us. Collectively, the firms came together to welcome talented disabled students and provide them with the skills and advice they would need to pursue a career in law.

Trainees, partners and recruiters from Allen & Overy, Ashurst, Clifford Chance, Eversheds, Freshfields, Hogan Lovells, and Linklaters came to meet talented disabled students and graduates aspiring to work in the legal sector. Students in attendance were offered unique opportunities to meet with potential future employers in a welcoming, open environment where they could ask questions about disability, both in recruitment and in the workplace.

Faye Wimpenny of Linklaters welcomed the attendees and introduced Deborah Dalgleish, Head of Diversity and Inclusion at Ashurst, who gave an overview of the legal sector, highlighted key skills and traits important to success, and spoke about the significance of diversity within the legal profession.

Following these keynote speeches, students took part in a series of small group discussions, in which representatives of the firms in attendance rotated around the room to speak to students and answer questions. Students spoke with six different representatives in ten-minute sessions, allowing for a broad understanding of the diverse motivations that can lead to a legal career, as well as adjustments made by various firms to accommodate disabled employees.

After lunch, Helen Cooke, Director of My Plus Consulting, explained how requesting and implementing adjustments in the workplace is a two-way street. In recruitment, employers and candidates must work together to ensure that proper adjustments are made, sharing the responsibility of helping ‘level the playing field’ for disabled candidates.

Students next enjoyed an interactive interview skills session. Recruiters and partners first explained typical interview structure, offering students a few sample interview questions to ask each other in pairs. Representatives concluded the session by explaining what is meant by ‘commercial awareness’ and how best to demonstrate this knowledge at interview.

This was followed by a panel session of industry experts, where the panel answered questions collected from students throughout the day. The panel included Philip Davies, partner at Eversheds, Feargus MacDaeid, trainee at Allen & Overy, Arunima Misra, trainee at Ashurst, Alison Peyton from Hogan Lovells’ recruitment, and Peter Quinn, Head of Disability Advisory Service at Oxford University. Panel members offered advice and guidance to the students, sharing their own personal experiences with having disabilities and working in the legal profession.

The day ended with a drinks and canapés networking reception.

Students found the day very informative and helpful, enjoyed the welcoming atmosphere, and said that the event encouraged them to pursue applying to firms with greater confidence.

Feedback from the delegates:

“We are all alike on the inside. Your disability doesn’t make you any less capable of doing the same job as someone without one. You shouldn’t be deprived of a future because of your disability – it makes you unique”.

“OPEN gave me a real sense of direction in terms of finding out where I wanted to be within the legal sector. It was a brilliant event – keep up the good work”.

“It was a truly enlightening opportunity that gave me the confidence to see through inaccurate myths with regards to how corporate law firms see disability.”

“This was a life-changing event for me, please keep it running. Hopefully I’ll be sitting on the panel in a couple of years time, instead of attending as a ‘student’!”

“A truly inspirational, informative and enjoyable event. It was good to meet other delegates in the same position, hear from city law firms, their trainees and graduate recruitment but more importantly disabled professionals in law”.

See below for a write-up of the event from
The city’s lack of diversity is being blown OPEN


Season | 2012

OPEN is a unique careers event for talented disabled students interested in a career in law. The event provides the attendees with the opportunity to meet with potential employers in a welcoming and receptive environment. OPEN 2012 took place on 30th November 2012 at the offices of Clifford Chance in Canary Wharf, London.

Throughout the day bright disabled students met with trainees, partners and recruiters from Allen & Overy, Ashurst, Clifford Chance, Freshfields, Hogan Lovells, and Linklaters. Representatives from each firm talked about their firm’s attitude toward disability and answered students’ questions regarding areas such as recruitment, adjustments in the workplace as well as legal careers in general.

The day started with a warm welcome from Karen Hodson, a partner at Clifford Chance, who talked about the importance of diversity and disability within the legal sector. This was followed by a presentation from Deborah Dagleish, Head of Diversity and Inclusion at Ashurst, who gave an overview of the legal sector, the careers available and the rewards to be gained.

The next session was called ‘my job in 10’ where trainees and qualified lawyers from the firms rotated around the room to talk to tables of students about the details of their jobs, and to answer any questions. This was a great opportunity for the students to gain a really good insight into legal careers, learn about the different firms, as well as hear about each firm’s approach to diversity.

A buffet lunch, provided in an open-plan meeting space, allowed students another opportunity to interact informally with representatives from each of the firms and gets to know each other.

After lunch the students divided into smaller groups for an interactive interview skills session. The session started with the recruiters from each of the law firms clarifying the application and interview process. Working in pairs, the students devised answers to sample interview questions that the recruiters reviewed and discussed, as well as addressing any individual concerns.

The day concluded with a panel discussion where students were able to ask questions to panel members all of whom had first hand experience of disability. The panel included Michael Smith, a placement student at Ashurst; Jane Croft Baker, Recruitment Manager, Clifford Chance; Giles Hutt, Partner, Hogan Lovells; Charlotte Osmand, Trainee Solicitor, Linklaters; and Sarah Cockburn, Recruitment Manager, Allen & Overy. Between them they answered questions that had been collected throughout the day on subjects ranging from disclosing a disability to the attitude of fellow colleagues. The session was as encouraging as it was instructive.

The day concluded with a drinks and canapés networking reception. The students and representatives were both relaxed after a really interesting and useful day and there was most definitely a great atmosphere of familiarity in the professional arena.


Season | 2013

The fourth OPEN Legal Sectors Careers Event, OPEN 2013, took place on 2nd December 2013 at the offices of Linklaters in Central London. This year two new firms, Mayer Brown and Slaughter and May, joined in welcoming talented disabled students and providing them with the advice and knowledge they needed to make great applications.

An assortment of Magic Circle, Silver Circle and other prestigious firms took part. Trainees, partners and recruiters from Allen & Overy, Ashurst, Clifford Chance, Freshfields, Hogan Lovells, Linklaters, Mayer Brown and Slaughter and May met with the bright disabled students who’d managed to secure a place.

The day began with a brief opportunity for students and firm representatives to network over refreshments, before the formalities began and Vikki Cook from Linklaters welcomed attendees to the event. The next session was an overview of the legal sector and the benefits that diversity – in particular, the diversity gained from recruiting more disabled graduates – brings to it.

Following these keynote speeches, students and firm reps took part in a number of small group discussions. Trainees with disabilities were asked to describe their job in 10 minutes, detailing the everyday tasks they were expected to perform, how these might be affected by a disability or long-term health condition, and what adjustments firms made available to mitigate these difficulties.

During lunch more discussion and networking between firm representatives and inquisitive students took place. The director of My Plus Consulting and event co-organiser Helen Cooke also took the opportunity to network, and to make students aware that reporters from BBC4 were visiting and looking for students to speak with – a number of students took the opportunity. To listen to the broadcast

Following lunch, Helen took to the stage to speak about requesting and implementing adjustments. She highlighted that discussions about adjustments needed to be two-way – students should give firms enough time to put adjustments in place, for example, and stressed that adjustments should be about ‘levelling the playing field’ and not be abused to give one applicant an unfair advantage over others. Helen also stressed that being open about your disability was always the best move to make – particularly when applying to large law firms, who have the biggest budgets, so can afford the most adjustments, and are most keen to recruit diverse talent.

Students then had the chance to take part in an interview skills session, in which recruiters and partners explained a typical interview structure and gave students a couple of standard questions to ask each other as practice. Afterwards, representatives closed the session by explaining the meaning of an oft-quoted yet elusive competency, ‘commercial awareness’, and how applicants could display this at interview.

The final session was involved a panel of industry experts from the participating firms taking part in a Q&A session with students, sharing their own personal experiences as disabled people working in the legal profession. Finally, the day ended much like it had begun – with drinks, canapés and further networking opportunities.


Season | 2014

The fifth annual OPEN legal sector careers event took place on Monday 1st December 2014, at Allen & Overy’s offices in Central London. The event for talented undergraduates with a disability or long-term health condition saw trainees, partners and recruiters from participating firms Allen & Overy, Ashurst, Clifford Chance, Freshfields, Hogan Lovells, Linklaters, Reed Smith and Slaughter & may meet with 50+ first, second and final year students from a range of universities including Edinburgh, King’s College London and Manchester.

The day kicked off with students and firm representatives taking part in a short networking session over morning refreshments before Mark Mansell, a Partner at Allen & Overy, welcomed students with an overview of Commercial Law, focussing on the benefits legal firms gain form recruiting talented students from diverse backgrounds.

Trainees from each firm then joined the students at the tables for a speed networking session where trainees rotated around student tables and gave students an overview of what their job entails on a daily basis, the impact their disability has on the tasks they take on, and the support and adjustments their firm has provided. Students were able to take advantages of the opportunity to ask questions about having a disability or long-term health condition and pursuing a career in Law.

Over lunch, students had the opportunity to network with the firm representatives before Helen Cooke, Director of MyPlus Consulting, discussed being open about having a disability and requesting adjustments and / or support. Helen encouraged students to be open about their disabilities, highlighting the benefits of doing so, such as be able to take advantages of the support and adjustments available to them during the recruitment process and in the workplace. Helen asked students to think about, and write down, how they might inform an employer about their disability and what their personal adjustments might be.

The afternoon continued with a focus on recruitment with recruiters from the participating firms providing students with an insight into interview skills, and what recruiters are looking for during an interview. Students received advice on how to answer competency-based questions and discussed the fact an interview should be a two-way process with students being encouraged to think about the questions they would like to ask the interviewer. This was an interactive session and included the opportunity for the participants to practise their newly acquired techniques with their peers.

The final sessions was a panel discussion with six representatives from participating firms, all of whom had a disability or long term health condition. Representatives gave a short introductions to themselves and how they managed their disability in the workplace, before questions were opened up to the floor. The day ended with drinks and canapés, providing students with another opportunity to network with representatives from all of the firms.


Season | 2015

OPEN is a unique careers event for talented disabled students interested in a career in commercial law. The sixth OPEN Legal Sectors careers event took place on 27th November 2015 at the offices of Linklaters in Central London. Trainees, partners and recruiters from Allen & Overy, Ashurst, Freshfields, Hogan Lovells, Linklaters, Reed Smith, and Slaughter & May met with over 50 ambitious disabled students from a wide range of universities including Glasgow, Sheffield and Southampton.

The day began with students and firm representatives networking over refreshments prior to Alecia Ani, Global Resourcing and Diversity Advisor at Linklaters giving a warm welcome to everyone. Ruth Grant, Global Diversity and Inclusion committee chair at Hogan Lovells then moved on to provide the students with an overview of Commercial Law – focussing on the benefits legal firms gain from having a diverse workforce and, in particular, why they want to recruit talented disabled graduates.

Trainees from each of the firms then joined small groups of students to talk about what their job entails on a daily basis, the impact their disability has on the tasks they are required to perform, and the support and adjustments provided by their firm in order to mitigate these challenges. The students took full advantage of this unique opportunity to ask any questions they had about pursuing a career in Law with a disability.

Lunch provided a further opportunity to network after which Helen Cooke, Director of My Plus Consulting, spoke about openness and requesting adjustments. Helen strongly encouraged applicants to be open about having a disability, outlining the benefits of doing so such as being able to access required support and adjustments during the recruitment process and in the workplace. Students were then asked to think about and write down how they may inform an employer about their disability and what adjustments that they personally would ask for. Helen referred to this as their ‘openness statement’.

The focus on the recruitment process continued with a session on interview skills led by Sarie Kannemeyer, Graduate Recruitment Executive at Freshfields and Sarah Cockburn, Head of Graduate Recruitment at Allen &Overy. Students were given an insight into what interviewers look for, including top tips such as to remember that an interview should be a two way process in which the interviewee also asks questions. Advice was provided on how to answer competency questions. Students were then given the opportunity to practice some of the techniques they had learnt in pairs.


Season | 2016

The seventh OPEN careers event, for talent students with a disability of long term health condition took place on Friday 25th November 2016, at Hogan Lovells’ office in Central London. Representatives from Baker McKenzie, Herbert Smith Freehills, Hogan Lovells, Linklaters and Slaughter & May met with 50 ambitious disabled students from a wide range of universities including Nottingham, Sheffield and Warwick.

The day began with Tom Astle, Finance Partner at Hogan Lovells, welcoming students to the event and also providing an overview of the legal sector during which he drew upon his own experiences. Jacqui Bernuzzi from Baker McKenzie then spoke to students about the importance of diversity in the legal sector, and why firms want to recruit students with disabilities and long term health conditions. A short panel discussion followed with three trainees from participating firms providing attendees with a brief overview of their role and a first-hand account of their experiences in their current position. Questions were then taken from the floor so students could find out from the trainees what working in commercial law is really like and the different types of roles involved.

This was followed by an Openness and Requesting Adjustments session led by Helen Cooke, Director of MyPlus Consulting. Helen encouraged ‘openness’ to the student about their disability or health condition, and gave an overview of the process of requesting adjustments, for both students and firms. Students were then asked to think about what they may inform an employer about their disability and what adjustments they may personally require and write this down to create their own ‘openness statement’.

After a short refreshment break, students were then introduced to a session focussing on interview skills. Sairah Hussain and Louise Hicks from Baker McKenzie took students through the interview process and top tips on best practice during an interview before introducing students to interactive exercises to test how best to approach competency-based questions, alongside commercial awareness and motivational questions.

The final session of the day was a panel discussion with five representatives from the firms who each gave a short introduction to themselves, their role in the firm, and their experiences of working in commercial law before questions were taken from the floor to answer questions about specific challenges faced by disabled employees in the industry and how to manage having a disability in the workplace. To end the day, students and firm representatives were provided with refreshments and canapés and the opportunity to network with the representatives from each firm.


Here are some of the talented graduates who work for the companies participating in the event.

Nicole Pavitt

Nicole Pavitt

Future Trainee

Akash Burrunport

Akash Burrunport

Future Trainee Solicitor

Jonathan Andrews

Jonathan Andrews

Future Trainee Solicitor

Nicole Pavitt

Nicole Pavitt

Future Trainee

What did / do you do and where?

I graduated from Westminster University with a degree in Law and I am currently studying the accelerated Legal Practice Course (“LPC”) at the University of Law. I undertook a vacation scheme with Allen & Overy and was fortunate to secure a training contract for March 2015.

I have both a genetic and neurological disorder.

What drew you to the firm you are working for / did your internship with?

It was important that an employer understood what having a disability means for me but also to be able to see past it. From my first interaction with the firm I was incredibly impressed at how they put me at ease and understood what support I needed. They were incredibly knowledgeable about adjustments, suggesting some that I hadn’t considered and ensuring that they worked.

I initially discounted myself from applying for firms because poor health during my A-levels had knocked my confidence. Allen & Overy were extremely welcoming and approachable. They discussed the application process openly and honestly, in particular the process of mitigating circumstances. This meant that I didn’t feel embarrassed and encouraged me to apply for a vacation scheme.

The vacation scheme confirmed my initial impression and the firm’s reputation for being the friendly face of the Magic Circle. I was impressed by the welcoming atmosphere and the commitment to diversity that was reflected in every person I met. The firm made the adjustments I needed to allow my disability to become immaterial and I was treated equally to other graduates on the scheme.

Graduate Recruitment at Allen & Overy gave me my confidence back and I would not be in this position right now without their continuing patience and support.

How do you manage your disability at work?

I know what my limits are and take rest breaks when required. This was important on the vacation scheme and on the accelerated LPC. I experience blackouts and have been given access to a first aid room which is invaluable. I also suffer with lower back pain for which I use a back support. I have access to software that reads out loud documents so that I can keep working when I feel tired.

How has your employer helped you to do well at your workplace?

The support I have received has been outstanding, from pre-application to the LPC. Graduate Recruitment have kept in contact through the entire process and even assisted with arranging adjustments on the LPC. On the vacation scheme Graduate Recruitment not only ensured that the adjustments were in place but that they worked for me. No question has been too big or too small.

What did you gain from attending OPEN?

OPEN gave me the conviction to communicate to prospective employers what adjustments I need to take part in the recruitment process. I was able to meet other disabled students and employers and to learn both perspectives. Helen and the team are extremely knowledgeable; they appreciate the anxieties that both employers and graduates may have and suggest practical solutions.

What advice or top tips would you offer?

It is important to be honest and realistic about what adjustments you require for your disability. Be confident and communicate what your disability means in practical scenarios, you are the best expert on how your condition affects you and there are no silly questions. It is easy to forget that recruitment is a two way process, you need to be certain that the employer is a good fit for you and the best way to find out is to ask questions.

Akash Burrunport

Akash Burrunport

Future Trainee Solicitor

I am a future trainee at Reed Smith having recently graduated with a degree in Biomedical Sciences from King’s College London. In July 2014, I was fortunate enough to secure a vacation scheme with Reed Smith and have subsequently been offered a training contract with the firm.

Why did you decide to apply to Reed Smith?

I applied to Reed Smith because it is a leading global law firm, with offices spanning the United States, Europe, Asia and the Middle East, and because of the firm’s unparalleled reputation within the legal industry. The firm’s open day allowed me the opportunity to speak the graduate recruitment team and associates and trainees, providing me with a real understanding of the firm’s commitment towards enhancing diversity within the legal field. Reed Smith’s engagement with several leading disability organisations – such as The Law Society’s Lawyers with Disabilities Division, My Plus Consulting and EmployAbility – demonstrated to me the breadth of diversity initiatives Reed Smith has to attract the widest range of applicants. It was one of my main reasons for applying to the firm. The very fact that Reed Smith offered two spaces for talented individuals with a disability on its vacation scheme highlights how committed the firm is to increasing diversity within the legal industry.

How do you manage your disability at work?

I am dyslexic, a condition that I was not aware I had until I started university. Being dyslexic has meant that I find tasks such as reading, spelling and utilising my short-term memory particularly challenging. However, during my time at university I developed effective coping strategies to ensure that my disability does not hold me back. Utilising speech-to-text software and meticulously organising how I spend my spare time enabled me to keep on top of my studies. I was able to easily transfer these strategies to my vacation scheme at Reed Smith with the incredible support and help from the firm.

How has your employer helped you to do well at your workplace?

Throughout the whole application process Reed Smith was very accommodating in making arrangements for my adjustments. The firm was enthusiastically supportive during my vacation scheme and was in constant contact with me in the months leading up to my start date. I was certainly surprised at how proactive Reed Smith was at ensuring that I was comfortable within the firm’s environment which included providing me with the specialist software I needed. The firm has also has an extremely effective support network in place which for me included my department supervisor, a trainee buddy and the graduate recruitment team. The continuous support I received from Reed Smith with regards to my disability struck a chord with me. I was made to feel very welcome by the firm and at no time did my disability feel like a barrier.

What advice or top tips would you offer?

I would strongly advise anyone with a disability who is interested in a career in law to do their research well and to try and attend the firm’s open days. This will not only allow you to see for yourself how accommodating particular firms are, but also gauge whether you are suited to the culture of that firm.

Jonathan Andrews

Jonathan Andrews

Future Trainee Solicitor

What did / do you do and where?

I graduated from King’s College, London with a degree in English in 2015, and am now studying the GDL at BPP 2015-16 before then taking the MA (LPC with Business) from 2016-17. Having undertaken vacation schemes with four city law firms – including two Open to Law members, Reed Smith and Hogan Lovells – I secured a Reed Smith training contract to commence August 2017.

I have an Autism Spectrum Disorder (similar to Asperger’s Syndrome), as well as Dyspraxia.

What drew you to the firm you are working for/did your internship with?

Part of it was simply the nature of the work Reed Smith focuses on. Having researched different areas of law around my English degree, I also found I had a real liking for both Contract Law, of which shipping law plays a big part, and media/Intellectual Property law – and Reed Smith is the only top commercial firm which excels in both, so it seemed an obvious fit.

In addition to this, I was immediately struck with the level of importance the firm puts on responsible business and pro bono – but in disability in particular. Reed Smith were the only firm to be present at every disability recruitment event I attended; furthermore, when speaking to their trainees and associates I could tell it was a friendly firm where difference was prized, and their graduate team had a real awareness and understanding of disability. When I interviewed for both the vacation scheme and training contract, I felt I could be honest and open about my disability without this being held against me, and I truly felt comfortable being myself – a massive bonus.

How has your employer helped you to do well at your workplace/throughout the application process?

Reed Smith were fantastic throughout the vacation scheme process, making clear they were always available if I needed support. They did not ask for written evidence regarding disclosed disabilities, which saved a lot of hassle and stress, because their policy was to trust what applicants disclose; I always felt able to disclose at work because of the accepting workplace culture, which I viewed as a sort of ‘soft adjustment’ in itself’; and the firm was even willing to offer adjustments I hadn’t requested, such as extra time, because they recognised that people might be too shy or concerned to ask (I didn’t ultimately need it, but was thankful for the gesture).

Since being offered a Training Contract Reed Smith have kept in touch, helped with my applications for Disabled Students Allowance, invited me to several disability-themed events over the coming months and even granted me a place on their Disability Task Force where, with my personal experience of autism and dyspraxia, I can help shape decision-making. I am never worried to ask for any adjustments I might need.

What did you gain from attending OPEN?

Before attending OPEN, I didn’t really know anything at all about how large commercial firms approached disability and had received a lot of advice not to disclose disability on application forms. This all changed with OPEN; I learnt more about the process of reasonable adjustments and the reasons for disclosing/being open about disability; and more importantly, I was able to listen to and speak with lawyers across the city who had succeeded despite, or even because of, their disabilities. Not only did I benefit from speaking to these ‘role models’, but their influence also drove me to want to succeed so that I could become a ‘role model’ of sorts to others with autism or Asperger’s who were considering commercial law; I am now involved in several diversity initiatives and helping to do just that.

What advice or top tips would you offer?

Firstly, don’t let any preconceptions you might have about commercial law hold you back – it might be competitive, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t succeed if you put in the work and aim for the right firms, even if you have a disability. At the same time, you need to be aware of any adjustments you might need, and communicate these to firms in a timely manner – the point of being open is partly to request adjustments so you can perform at your best, and if you don’t let the firms know what you need, you won’t be able to demonstrate what you can really do at assessment.


Disability or long term health condition

Open is a careers event specifically for students with a disability or long-term health condition. The official definition of disability according to the Equality Act 2010 defines a disabled person as “someone who has a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term effect on his or her ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.”

Conditions include, but are not limited to: visual and hearing impairments, mobility impairments, Asperger’s Syndrome, diabetes, epilepsy, dyslexia, dyspraxia, mental health conditions, speech impairments and major illnesses such as cancer and MS.

If you are uncertain whether you are eligible to apply please contact us at: