Kent law student wins vacation scheme with Clifford Chance

Kent law student Charly Pennington has won a two-week vacation scheme with Magic Circle law firm Clifford Chance.

Charly, who graduates with an LLB Law degree from Kent Law School in July, was one of just 20 students across the UK to secure the prestigious prize in the firm’s Intelligent Aid competition. Now in its fifth year, the annual competition requires students to write an essay on a topical question, with shortlisted entrants being put forward to a two-day final.

This year, students were asked to write an essay about the importance of the Rule of Law to a developed economy. Charly said: ‘We had to write it in 500 words and were encouraged to be creative with how we presented it. I finally settled on it being written as a text message conversation between a lawyer and a client. I basically sat for quite a long time sending messages between mine and my mums phone, then screenshotted the whole lot and stitched it all together in Photoshop! It definitely paid off though because when I got to the finals, three of the partners that I met remembered my entry better than most.’

Clifford Chance seek to find students who can demonstrate their intelligence, their ability to structure a convincing argument, and their understanding of the practical application of the law.

Charly was among the top 40 entrants in the UK who went through to the second stage of the competition, a two-day final in London. Charly said: ‘The first day was filled with presentations from partners on specific topics, and practice presentations in small groups. Then on the second day we were given a bundle of papers relating to a typical Merger & Acquisition that the firm might see, and we were given three hours to create a 15 minute presentation on why the firm should represent the potential client, and what considerations ought to take place. We presented individually to two partners, who gave a rather intense grilling on everything I spoke about. It was really tough, the first day I didn’t get home until 11pm, and then after the presentation I gave on the second day I was exhausted by the time I got home!’

Charly said it felt fantastic to hear the news that she had won: ‘When you work so hard for something, it is really, really wonderful when it pays off. It was definitely worth all the time I spent stressing over it!’ The overall winner of the competition was also awarded a cheque for £5,000 towards their tuition fees.

Later this summer Charly will spend two weeks at Clifford Chance’s London offices in Canary Wharf, with one week in Mergers and Acquisitions and the second week in Corporate Finance. She will also sit the firm’s assessment centre tests and be invited to go through the interview process for a 2017 Training Contract. Charly then begins her Legal Practice Course in September: ‘Even if I don’t end up gaining a Training Contract at Clifford Chance, having it on my CV will be fantastic. Also, the experience of giving a presentation to a partner in the final day of the competition helped me enormously in learning exactly what I need to say and how to plan quickly and effectively, because most firms ask you to perform tasks like that in their training contract interviews.’

Charly is keen to encourage other students to take advantage of opportunity to join a Magic Circle firm afforded by the Clifford Chance competition: ‘Take a risk and do something different! Of course above all you need to write a good, solid essay, but really try and think outside the box with how you present it. Most of the people who made it to the final had done something ‘different’ that made them stand out from the other 600 entrants. And don’t doubt your ability. I never thought that I could write something worthy of getting to the final, but bit the bullet and did it anyway and somehow managed to pull it off!’


Image: courtesy Clifford Chance (Charly is seated far left)