“The legal profession is based on two pillars: social skills and your networking ability, plus extensive legal knowledge.”
Renée Gerbolés, Spain
What was studying at IE University like?
Throughout my studies, I was involved in a range of activities at the university. In 2015, I joined the Debate Club and was its president from 2017 onwards. I also participated in Moot Madrid in 2018, representing IE University in the written and oral stages. For three summers in a row I completed extracurricular placements. First, I worked with the International Arbitration team at King & Spalding in Paris. Next, I went to Ashurst in London, and finally I worked in Banking and Finance at Pérez-Llorca. I also had the opportunity to complete an exchange program at the University of Texas at Austin, where I had an unforgettable and enriching experience. While I studied the dual degree, I also worked as an events and conference hostess every weekend I could.
How did you secure your master’s placements?
The process is long and tedious. Fortunately, I had sent my CV during the program’s first few months, and I think that was key to my success. In October and November I went through various ongoing selection processes which were very different from each other. For some, I had to prepare for technical tests, while for others I had to focus on more personal aspects. They were very long and demanding months because I had to prepare for exams, master’s case study submissions, and numerous law firm interviews and other selection processes. Because we prepare all of our practical cases in groups at IE University, I was able to count on the support of my peers during the times when I was busy all afternoon with recruitment processes and interviews. Despite the difficulties, this period helped me improve in many respects. I learned a lot about efficient time management, how to deal with constant pressure, sell myself, bring out the best in myself, and finally trust that my hard work would end up paying off.
You recently accepted an offer to join Cuatrecasas. What were the main challenges you faced in the selection process and how did you overcome them?
I am very fortunate and feel very proud to have secured a placement at a law firm like Cuatrecasas. During the process I had to overcome a series of challenges. The first was to stand out among the other candidates and demonstrate that I was the best option, something that I think we all face. I knew that it was very likely that the other candidates would have also studied a dual degree with a very high GPA, and speak various languages like me. So I focused on looking for aspects of my personality that differentiate me on a personal and professional level. I think that, nowadays, it’s really important to know which qualities make you a good candidate beyond your academic achievements. You need to analyze what it is that makes you a good worker and team member from a human point of view. Personally, my years studying at IE University have given me the opportunity to work in a team on countless occasions, both in class and in Debate Club. This has taught me not only how to work with others and get the most out of a team, but it has also enabled me to get to know myself better and become familiar with both my positive and negative traits.
On the other hand, the partner interviews were also a challenge. This part of the process was quite demanding, as you have to show that you are up to the job on both a personal and professional level. Preparing beforehand helped me a lot, as well as being honest and transparent during the interviews themselves.
In what practice area will you complete your placement?
I am going to work in Litigation and Arbitration. Ever since I worked in International Arbitration at King & Spalding I have wanted to develop my career in this area, and I always knew I wanted to develop my career internationally. This was reaffirmed by my experience at IE University, as well as the debate contests and the Moot Madrid competition that I participated in in 2018.
What advice would you give to someone thinking of applying to Cuatrecasas?
I would say to anyone thinking of applying to any law firm that they should focus on maintaining good grades at university while also complementing their education with other courses, activities, clubs, languages and—above all—extracurricular internships. After all, the legal profession is based on two fundamental pillars: social skills and your networking ability, plus extensive legal knowledge. That’s why I think it’s so important you push yourself with your academics, but also on the personal and social side. In addition, it’s essential you are proactive, sincere and transparent during the selection process. At the end of the day, they’re going to hire you—so it’s not worth inventing anything or saying you’re something you’re not. I also think that being calm and confident in yourself are key to success but, above all, personal and academic preparation are essential. In my case, IE University workshops helped me identify which personal and professional skills I should focus on boosting and which I needed to work on a little more.