Grad­u­ate Inter­view Series | Olivia Hobill Cole

Why did you choose Swaab?

I chose Swaab because it offered the unique oppor­tu­ni­ty of work­ing at a mid-tier firm, that was also a full ser­vice firm, that also had nation­al and inter­na­tion­al con­nec­tions. The fact that Swaab branched across so many of these aspects was very intrigu­ing to me.

Because Swaab is not as large as some oth­er firms but still has a full ser­vice prac­tice, it is involved in sev­er­al inter­est­ing and high pro­file cas­es. And because of its size, grad­u­ates get to be direct­ly involved in the mat­ters they work on, rather than stuck in a big team doing dis­cov­ery work. This was a large fac­tor for my choice as I want­ed to do real legal work, grow my skills, and work some­where that I could see respect­ed their juniors and gave oppor­tu­ni­ties for growth.

Anoth­er rea­son I chose Swaab was because of the cul­ture. I was imme­di­ate­ly struck by how gen­uine and nice every­one I met was. I want­ed to work some­where I actu­al­ly want­ed to be for 9 hours a day, and Swaab promised an envi­ron­ment like that. 

What was the Swaab selec­tion process like? 

Through­out the Swaab selec­tion process I felt like the firm real­ly want­ed to know who I was as a per­son, and not just my work expe­ri­ence or tran­script. The peri­od between apply­ing and receiv­ing an inter­view was longer than oth­er roles I applied for, but it was because they were read­ing every sin­gle appli­ca­tion. Swaab did their best to tai­lor the sit­u­a­tion to make me my most com­fort­able. The part­ners and senior asso­ciates inter­view­ing me were work­ing in areas I was inter­est­ed in and mir­rored my inter­ests out­side of law as well. This meant that dur­ing my inter­views I could real­ly show my per­son­al­i­ty, express my inter­ests and show my pas­sion for law and the type of work­place I want­ed to be a part of. One aspect of the process was writ­ing an arti­cle. This seemed daunt­ing at first, but real­ly it was an oppor­tu­ni­ty to prove my pas­sion in a spe­cif­ic area of law and give the firm anoth­er insight into my skills beyond my resume. The firm lunch pro­vid­ed a good oppor­tu­ni­ty to talk to solic­i­tors in dif­fer­ent areas of the firm and at dif­fer­ent stages in their career. It also helped me to under­stand the social atmos­phere of the firm and ask spe­cif­ic ques­tions of dif­fer­ent prac­tice groups and the work with­in each team. 

What has been your expe­ri­ence to date?

My expe­ri­ence so far has been incred­i­bly pos­i­tive. I began as a grad­u­ate in the com­mer­cial lit­i­ga­tion team dur­ing COVID lock­downs and yet this did not deter inclu­sion and com­radery I felt when join­ing. The firm cre­at­ed spe­cialised men­tor catch ups with young lawyers with­in the firm as well as after­noon socials to ensure we were meet­ing new faces and get­ting to know peo­ple with­in and out­side our teams. 

Being in the office post-lock­down has been fan­tas­tic on not just a social lev­el, but pro­fes­sion­al­ly. There has been oppor­tu­ni­ty to gain inci­den­tal work by sit­ting in on phone calls and client meet­ings, and to talk in depth with part­ners and solic­i­tors about tasks and queries about the cas­es we are work­ing on. 

Over­all I have felt like there has been great encour­age­ment for me to jump in and have a go at any task, and a gen­uine inter­est in giv­ing feed­back and see­ing me improve. 

How would you describe the Swaab culture?

The best way to flour­ish in Swaab is to sim­ply be your full excit­ing and mul­ti­fac­eted self. This is a firm where col­leagues want to get to know you, build con­nec­tions and cre­ate an envi­ron­ment of kind­ness and respect. I have felt respect­ed and wel­comed every step of the way — even my first few days when I was feel­ing a bit ner­vous and shy. 

Putting out qual­i­ty work to be proud of, shar­ing achieve­ments and col­lab­o­rat­ing when ques­tions of case strat­e­gy or legal research arise are all core ele­ments of what I think the Swaab cul­ture is. The Fri­day night socials, the impromp­tu lunch­es and din­ners, the social sport, the month­ly meet­ings where we hear from part­ners about how they got to where they are today – these are all small exam­ples that make up the friend­ly and engag­ing culture. 

Giv­en the com­pet­i­tive nature of the mar­ket, do you see the pos­si­bil­i­ty of a long-term career at Swaab?

I def­i­nite­ly see the pos­si­bil­i­ty of a long-term career at Swaab. One of the things that drew me to Swaab was being able to see how past grad­u­ates had gone on to become senior asso­ciates, which I saw as a real­ly pos­i­tive sign. It showed me Swaab was a firm that nur­tured young pro­fes­sion­als and encour­aged pro­gres­sion with­in the firm. Hav­ing worked at Swaab for almost a year I have already seen how Swaab encour­ages lawyers to carve out a spe­cial­i­ty with­in teams and there is room to grow your prac­tice in a per­son­alised way, there­fore ensur­ing longevi­ty. Also hon­est­ly, post-Swaab, I think I would strug­gle to find some­where with a bet­ter cul­ture and work/​life balance.