CMS Cameron McKenna Case Study: Trainee Solicitor Assessment 


Client Profile

Industry Sector: Legal
Number of employees: 1,300
Location: London, UK


Facing strong competition for talented new Trainee Solicitors, CMS Cameron McKenna first sought the help of a&dc in 2005 to design an assessment process which would identify the best new talent as well as being able to stand up to scrutiny.  CMS Cameron McKenna are not only competing with other law firms to secure the top graduate talent, but are also finding that the competition from other sectors to secure the best talent is intensifying.

To win the war for talent, CMS Cameron McKenna realised that they must stay ahead of the competition by keeping its process fresh and up-to-date.

In order to maintain a process which continues to be representative of a leading law firm offering attractive career opportunities to the right candidates, CMS Cameron McKenna instructed a&dc to review and refresh the process with three key objectives in mind;

  • Maintain a robust selection process, able to accurately select the best graduate talent.
  • Ensure the selection experience gives candidates a realistic preview of life as a Trainee Solicitor or Vacation placement student at CMS Cameron McKenna, as well as promoting the organisation’s graduate employer brand.
  • Reduce the time to hire, thereby avoiding talent attrition and re-stocking the talent pool for more efficient talent management.


The competency framework and assessment tools originally designed for CMS Cameron McKenna were working well and were delivering high quality graduate trainees.

The 2005 process had consisted of multiple stages in which candidates attended two separate and successive assessment events.  Feedback provided by candidates and those involved with the assessment process indicated that the existing two stage process would benefit from being reduced in length in order to prevent candidates being lost to competitor organisations during the course of the assessment process.  In the 2008 review, a&dc worked with CMS Cameron McKenna to condense the assessment process to a single one day event.  Additionally, the tools used in the Assessment Centre were reviewed and updated to reflect the current issues being faced by the firm.

The Assessment Centre was designed around a ‘day in the life’ theme in which candidates, assuming the role of a graduate trainee, complete a number of exercises set within a fictional company which reflect the culture and context of CMS Cameron McKenna.

The exercises were piloted with existing Trainees to ensure that the materials were set at the appropriate level and accurately measured the competencies required within the target roles.

Next, assessor training was delivered to the assessment team, ensuring that in-house assessors were marking candidates consistently. An additional benefit of assessor training was that CMS Cameron McKenna are able to run the assessment process independently and according to demand.

Although the length of the assessment event had been reduced, candidates continue to complete multiple assessments, measuring a range of competencies.  The integrity and robustness of the process were therefore maintained with the benefit that the shorter assessment process allowed the firm to make offers on the day of the assessment event.


The revised process significantly reduced the time to hire as the whole selection process could be completed within just 2 weeks from Candidate application to job offer.  The ability to make formal offers of employment on the day of the Assessment Centre event helps to ensure that top talent can be secured quickly once identified.  This has resulted in a decrease in the drop-out rate of Candidates throughout the selection process and has also contributed to increasing Return on Investment (ROI) as a higher proportion of applicants are being converted into offers.

What the client says

“The recent assessment process review has resulted in a process which is not only less costly and uses internal resources more efficiently, but which gives a more favourable impression of CMS Cameron McKenna to candidates. We are able to turn a complete Candidate assessment around quickly, which means we come across as dynamic and proactive; qualities we expect from our graduates too!”  Nicola Stanley  – Graduate Recruitment Officer, CMS Cameron McKenna