Sara Borasio

1. How did you find out about the Undergraduate of the Year competition and what made you apply?

Our university careers service sent us an email telling us about the award, which included an account by a student who had applied last year describing the process. It sounded like a great opportunity. I had become increasingly interested in law over the past year, and was considering doing a law degree after finishing my current bachelor. Since I am passionate about LGBTQ+ issues, when I saw that Clifford Chance was sponsoring the LGBTQ+ awards it felt like the perfect opportunity to combine two of my interests. I thought that, even if I did not get very far, the application process would be a great way to gain some insight into the inner workings of a law firm, and to understand whether law was an area I wished to pursue.

2. How did you find the selection process and assessment day?

The selection process as a whole was very interesting. The questions on the application form were thought-provoking and I enjoyed answering them, especially the question asking what inclusivity initiative I would introduce at Clifford Chance if given the opportunity. Doing research for this and considering what could complement the work Clifford Chance already does gave me more insight into the role that a firm like Clifford Chance has in relation to its own employees, as well as the responsibilities of a law firm in terms of pro bono work.

The assessment centre was a really fun day as well. It was great to get to meet the other candidates, and the interviews were interesting and far more relaxed than I would have expected.

3. What were the highlights of your work experience placement with Clifford Chance?

I thoroughly enjoyed my placement throughout. Getting to shadow the pro bono team was a definite highlight. I was able to sit in on meetings discussing issues which I care greatly about, including LGBTQ+ rights and environmental protection, and it was amazing to get more of an insight into the pro bono work as a whole. Another highlight was being allowed to have a look at the Arcus* survey and make some suggestions on it, which really helped me understand how data is collected and how it can help to take an intersectional approach in improving diversity at the firm.

4. What did you find most surprising about the culture and workplace at Clifford Chance?

What surprised me most was how welcoming people were. I knew that the people I would be shadowing had a lot to do, and so I did not expect to have them devote much time to me. One of my biggest apprehensions about applying for the award in the first place had been thinking that I would not feel comfortable in a City environment. However, several people took a lot of time out of their day to explain their work to me and put together an interesting programme. I was amazed by the generosity of people really caring that I should get a rewarding experience, and going out of their way to make me feel welcome.

5. What was the most useful thing you learnt on the placement?

The biggest impact the placement had was to help me realise that law really is an area I wish to go into, and affirm my decision to do a law bachelor after my current degree. In addition to that, the thing that has been of most practical use to me was learning about the importance of looking at data in addressing inequality within a firm such as Clifford Chance. I thoroughly enjoyed looking at the survey, and it helped me consider how to collect data and how to process it in order to identify steps that can further equality. This has also been very helpful in my other work experience this summer, and has inspired my methodology for my dissertation.

6. What advice would you give individuals considering applying next year?

I would tell anyone considering applying to definitely go for it. The application process itself is an interesting learning experience, so it is well worth the time it takes to apply. My other recommendation would be the somewhat clichéd statement to be yourself, which did prove true in my case. I almost did not apply originally because my interests in law were more on the pro bono than the commercial side, so I was unsure whether I met the criteria for the award. However, because I expressed those interests in my interview I was invited to shadow the Diversity and Inclusion and the pro bono team, which was a perfect fit for me.

*Arcus is our internal global LGBT+ network. Derived from the Latin for rainbow, Arcus is a powerful symbol of inclusivity and diversity that seeks to promote a culture where employees feel comfortable about being open about their sexual orientation.