As a leading international law firm, Willkie Farr & Gallagher constantly strives for excellence. Our London graduate recruitment team partners with Willkie Green, our firm-wide social impact group for all things sustainable, to look for new ways to both reduce our environmental impact and improve our graduate recruitment process sustainably. Our efforts have recently been recognised at the TargetJob Awards 2022 as the winner of the Sustainability in Early Talent Recruitment Award.
What have we changed?
We carefully reviewed our internal operations and processes, looking for ways to reduce our impact across a multitude of levels. Operating internationally with 13 offices in six countries, we are aware of the collective effort required to do this. In London, we rethought each stage of our graduate recruitment strategy, developing transformative changes that align with Willkie’s sustainability commitment and create a better experience for applicants.
Additionally, Covid-related lockdowns provided us with a new perspective. Online events meant a major reduction in wasteful and unnecessary manufacturing of merchandise, lowering our CO2 emissions. Eliminating the use of large plastic banners, displays and 2000 unsustainably- and mass-produced plastic freebies has proved paramount to making our recruitment process greener.
Additionally, attending and hosting events online, such as workshops, law fairs and open events, had myriad other benefits, as it made Willkie more accessible to those limited by geography, time and money. Establishing a sincere online presence means 3000 physical brochures, assessment papers and onboarding materials are no longer needed or printed.
We also held online video interviews and assessment centres, meaning that candidates could go through the application process from home. This meant that more than 100 people did not have to travel into London for interviews and assessment days, eliminating CO2 emissions from train, car and plane journeys. To date, 75% of our application process is now online, and those aspects which are not are kept as sustainable as possible.
Results and reporting
Whilst not wanting to lose any elements by hosting events online, we invested in making the online experience as meaningful and memorable as possible. We were delighted to discover that our new green approach positively impacted the whole experience. Anthony Otobo-Martins, current trainee, told us, “I completed another vacation scheme in person at a different firm with a well-established vacation scheme and yet it paled in comparison to Willkie’s first ever vacation scheme. I was given great quality and, more importantly, real, work, rather than artificial tasks. I joined calls with clients and local counsel, attended a virtual court hearing and took part in several social activities, my favourite being a really fun escape room”.
Utilising internal resources, our Graduate Recruitment Manager works with Willkie Green to drive green initiatives firm-wide, to continually review and implement sustainable practices within our graduate recruitment program. Co-ordinated by our Global Environmental Sustainability Manager, Willkie Green launched an Environmental Analyst paid internship programme, now in its second year. The internship allows Willkie to tap into the knowledge and experience of students majoring in Environmental and associated fields and delivered entirely virtually. Our analysts have been working on new ways Willkie can lessen its impact, foregrounding sustainability and corporate responsibility internationally.
Our future plans
Continuing to work collaboratively with Willkie Green, we will continue to build on our sustainable initiatives and constantly review and rethink how we could be doing better for our prospective talent. Our London graduate recruitment team will run over 90% of its outreach events virtually, we have eliminated ‘freebies’ and will not print brochures. Our brochure is now available online and, for the few in person events we do run, a QR code to our brochure will be presented on business cards made of ethical, compostable, wildflower-seeded paper. We are committed to making our online activity memorable, with plans to host a virtual first years’ experience in 2022 whilst simultaneously cutting mass travel. All of our application processes will be done online, except for a hybrid approach to partner interviews with an option to do it online.