With its headquarters in Hong Kong, and 27 offices across Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and North America, King & Wood Mallesons is a truly global law firm, and the sixth largest in the world. A career at King & Wood Mallesons truly can take you anywhere—so how do you get a foot in the door? We asked our insiders for five tips on how to do exactly that, and they delivered. Read on to learn more.
Interviews for graduate positions at law firms have a well-deserved reputation for being rigorous and demanding. It’s a relief, therefore, to hear from our insiders that King & Wood Mallesons recruiters are at pains to put candidates at ease, allowing them to relax, focus on making a strong first impression, and provide a candid sense of who they are as both a student, individual, and prospective graduate lawyer.
“The interviews were very relaxed - part of the reason why I chose KWM is that the people I met throughout the recruitment process were so lovely and welcoming.”
“The HR team is excellent. The interview processes were incredibly efficient and well organised. In particular, the relaxed, casual approach adopted by my workplace had a large impact on my decision to choose to work here.”
“The interview process was very fair, and more relaxed than some of my other interviews. At the time I applied, there were no assessments - just an application, a clerk networking event and then an interview. I understand that there are now other tests involved.”
Graduate, Perth and Sydney
“The interview was somewhat casual and really focused on being a discussion about myself and the firm rather than a series of behavioural questions being fired.”
When applying for graduate positions—especially in consulting and tech—it’s not unusual for candidates to encounter strange questions designed to test their creativity and problem-solving abilities. A classic example would be a question like “How many ping pong balls would fit within a Boeing 747?”. Fortunately, our insiders have emphasised that interviewers at KWM are not likely to ask such questions. Instead, they will focus on getting to know you as a person, with questions focused on your interests, ambitions, and extracurricular activities.
“The KWM style of interview was very conversational rather than structured with questions. I was asked about my previous work experience and university internships that I had completed. I was also asked about my interest in commercial law and what I had and hadn't enjoyed at university.”
“I was asked about some of my experiences from my cover letter, e.g. a university research trip I had taken. There were no behavioural questions or strange "what kind of fruit would you be?" questions - it was more of a conversation to see what kind of person I was and whether they would want to work with me.”
“[I was asked] a broad range of questions, covering everything from my university involvement, grades and then to sports and other interests. There were no 'curve balls'.”
Our insiders are unanimous—KWM has a great internal culture where people work hard but also benefit from the support of diverse, friendly, and social teams. “Fun”, “inviting” and “approachable” are just some of the words KWM insiders used to describe their colleagues. While there’s no one personality that fits these descriptions, the advice serves as a helpful reminder that interpersonal skills are key, even when pursuing positions that might be research-focused or independent.
“I think the culture at KWM is great. The people are the main reason I chose to join the firm, they are inviting and generally interested in how you are and your learning too. I have found that if you aren't busy there is no expectation that you hang around until late, so long as you have asked the remainder of the team whether they need help. I think the structure and hierarchy really depends on what team you are working in. The teams in the firm I have worked in have been very social which makes coming into work a lot more pleasant.”
“The culture in the office is fun, vibrant, and energetic. It is the same after hours - really fun people. Although there is a hierarchy in terms of seniority, senior employees (partners/ SAs) are very approachable. The team I'm in works really well together and looks out for each other.”
“Most people are very friendly, approachable and willing to teach and mentor juniors. Working hours could be long when there is lots of work, but when things are quieter people are free to leave at 5pm sharp. There are social events often, and most of them are really fun!”
King and Wood Mallesons practices law across various areas, including banking and finance, dispute resolution, intellectual property, real estate, securities, and tax. Rather than expecting grads to know which of these specialities they’d like to commit to, KWM exposes them to different legal departments, allowing them to make an informed decision at the end of their first two years.
“Fantastic training - technical legal skills, technological training, personal development training, broad practice group training, specific team training.”
“The training process for grads is intense. In addition to 2 weeks of training first up, grads rotate through 3 practice areas (6 months per rotation) before submitting preferences of where they'd like to settle.”
“The training is very thorough. You get overall training about the firm and then specific training that is relevant to your graduate rotation.”
Whether you’re socialising with colleagues outside of work or reporting to a supervising partner, the way you communicate within large firms is extremely important. How do you balance professional and casual discourse? How does your register change when consulting with clients? Which protocols should you follow when sending emails to non-KWN employees? You needn’t know the answers yet, but you should be prepared to demonstrate during your interview an appreciation for the importance of clear and contextually appropriate communication.
“The firm has excellent communication channels and a commitment to improvement, resulting in effective teams.”
“Everyone interacts well - both in the work environment and in social contexts. The hierarchy only exists in the work environment but this is becoming less apparent.”
“Very welcoming and social. During office hours they work hard, however are very relaxed and personable. It does not feel hierarchical, but more team-like.”