Herbies homes in on language students

Herbert Smith is planning to target ­language students as a result of its review of international graduate recruitment.

Matthew White

Graduate recruitment partner Matthew White said: “We’ll be targeting people in UK universities that have the language skills we’re seeking. We’ll be developing contacts with international societies such as those for Japanese, Chinese and Russian students to see if these people are interested in law as a career. But we won’t cut corners for these students. We’ll maintain the same very high benchmark for legal ability.”

As part of the review White has been conducting a tour of international offices to find out what they are looking for in lawyers and whether the firm is reaching the right people and getting the right skills for those jurisdictions. So far White has been to Paris, Madrid, Singapore, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Moscow and Dubai and will visit Australia in April.

Following the tour White will report to the executive committee with a series of ­recommendations for endorsement.

White also hopes to begin using international partners as part of the firm’s 12-week assessment programme for vacation schemes, and to increase the numbers of vacation students undertaking international placements.

Speaking about the future for trainees at Herbert Smith, White said: “We do expect every trainee to do six months on international or client secondment and there’s an expectation that every lawyer will spend at least two to three years in one of our international offices during their career at the firm.

“In order to further their careers lawyers have to do that, and when it comes to promotions we’ll look at whether they’ve spent time in an international office. And unless your practice is wholly domestic, why not?

“Savvy individuals who want to make ­partner will be alive to the fact that we’re not a London law firm with international offices, we’re an international law firm.”