Irwin Mitchell is a full-service law firm that was established in Sheffield back in 1912. Since then, they have grown to more than 2,500 employees across the UK, providing financial and legal advice to individual and corporate clients.

While the roots of Irwin Mitchell are firmly in criminal law, they have grown and now offer everything from wealth management advice to insolvency advice, employment, real estate and commercial law, and personal injury and medical negligence claims.

Opportunities are available for early careers and for experienced professionals, and there are roles in business support functions as well as in legal roles.

Irwin Mitchell offers apprenticeships in Accounting, Audit, Business Administration, Paralegal, and Solicitor, as well as Legal Work Placements and Training Contracts for law graduates and those that are working through their SQE.

For many students and recent graduates, the opportunities that come from working in a full-service firm like Irwin Mitchell means exposure to several different types of law, but also access to some excellent rewards and benefits, too. Employees can take advantage of a market-leading salary and the opportunity to earn an annual performance bonus, up to 28 days annual leave and a competitive pension scheme, and other benefits such as healthcare cover and discounted legal fees.

Irwin Mitchel application process

Applying for an Early Careers position is quite simple.

The first step is a simple application form, where you will need to share your basic contact details and information about your qualifications and previous experience. If you meet the basic criteria for the role, you will be invited to the next stage of the assessment.

There is a strengths-based online assessment that comes next. This takes between 90-120 minutes to complete, and is used to make sure that you have the right strengths and motivations to be successful throughout your career at Irwin Mitchell.

Following this, you will be invited to complete a short video interview, where you will have to answer some pre-recorded questions on video. These are all about your strengths and abilities, and you will have some time to prepare your answers before you go on film.

The final stage of the application process is the Assessment Center.

Why does Irwin Mitchell use assessment centers?

For the Irwin Mitchell recruitment team, using assessment centers is a great way to evaluate candidates on their soft skills, which can be difficult to assess in other ways. They can see how candidates interact with each other, their communication skills, how they work as a team to complete a project, as well as leadership, negotiation, and listening skills. These are all under constant evaluation throughout the day.

For the candidate, the assessment center is like a ‘day in the life’, an opportunity to meet their peers and future colleagues, as well as members of the recruitment team and even managers and partners.

The assessment center is the best place for both the recruitment team and the candidate to decide whether the job is the right fit.

What skills is Irwin Mitchell looking for?

As a full-service law firm with many non-law positions available, the skills and abilities that the company is looking for in new recruits depends entirely on the role.

However, there are certain specific competencies that they need every candidate to possess.

The ethos at Irwin Mitchell is described as “The expert hand, with the human touch”, and the business is built around five core values:

  • To be pioneering with an imaginative outlook

  • To be approachable and caring

  • To be tenacious in the pursuit of our objectives

  • To be efficient in the provision of our services

  • To work with a foundation of integrity

To be successful in your application to the early careers scheme at Irwin Mitchell, you will need to be able to show that you understand these values and you apply them to yourself and your work.

Some of the skills and competencies that are required will be listed in the job description, but others include things like:

Irwin Mitchell assessment center format

The role you apply for will determine the structure and content of your assessment day, but you can expect to take part in the following exercises:

Irwin Mitchell written exercise

In the written exercise, you will be given a brief and some supporting information, which you will need to read and understand. There will be a question to answer or a solution to a problem to find, and you will need to be able to go through all the information you have been given and use it to come to a conclusion about the best course of action to take to answer the question or solve the problem.

Some of the information you are given will be irrelevant, so you need to be able to sort the wheat from the chaff, and then you need to provide a written report outlining your findings.

In the written exercise, you are being assessed on your problem solving and logical reasoning skills, as well as your literacy - the recruitment team wants to see excellent spelling, grammar, and structure to your writing.

Irwin Mitchell group exercise

The group exercise usually involves a small number of candidates, and you will usually have to work together on a case study to solve a client-related issue. There will usually be some discussion and debate needed to reach a consensus on what the best course of action will be, and this is what the recruiters are looking for.

Throughout this process, the recruitment team wants to see how you speak to others and, perhaps more importantly, how you listen. They want to see that you have the capacity to take the lead when needed, and ensure that everyone in the group has the opportunity to have their voice heard - but they also want to see that you are capable of letting others take the lead, too.

Irwin Mitchell interview

The last part of the assessment center is interviews. You will have several different interviews, some with the recruiters, others with line managers and supervisors, and you may even face a panel or a partner.

There are different types of interview questions that you might face at this point.

Some of the questions will be about you, your history, and the details of your CV. Questions about this might look like:

  • What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

  • What was the best thing about attending your university?

Other questions might be about your motivations, and what makes you want to work hard. They are also looking for well-thought-out reasons for your application to the role you have chosen. Questions here might look like:

  • Where do you see yourself in five years?

  • What made you want to work at Irwin Mitchell?

The recruiters will want to know that you are commercially aware and that you have done your research about the company. This might come in questions like:

  • Where could Irwin Mitchell go now to develop further as a company?

  • What do our competitors do that is better than us?

Finally, they might ask some competency-based questions. These are designed to get you to provide examples from your work or university experience where you have demonstrated that you have the skills and competencies that they are looking for in the role. Questions on this topic might look like:

  • Tell us about a time when you had to deal with the failure of a project.

  • Describe the last time you gave excellent customer service to someone.

Tips for passing the Irwin Mitchell assessment center

1. Do your research

Research skills will help you in your future career in law - and you can put them to the test by finding out all you can about the role and about the company. You will need to be able to demonstrate that you have commercial awareness and knowledge throughout the application process, and the only way to do that is through research.

2. Preparation

Part of your research will be looking at the job description. This is where you will find all the skills, abilities, qualifications, and competencies that recruiters want from a potential candidate. Use these to think of examples that demonstrate you have these skills, and keep them top of mind when you are going through different assessments and exercises so that you are always showing the recruiters what you can do.

3. Practice interviews

The interviews at Irwin Mitchell are the biggest part of the assessment center, so you will want to go through your interview technique. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification if you do not understand a question, and concentrate on speaking slowly and making eye contact.

4. Plan your journey

Arriving late to the assessment center will not only give a bad impression, it will also make you feel flustered which could impact your performance where it matters. To avoid this, make sure that you plan your journey to arrive early.

5. Be yourself

Diversity and inclusion are big in recruitment at the moment, which means that recruiters are actively seeking people who are not ‘typical’ law material - so being yourself will have an impact on your application. You’ve got through to the assessment center based on your application form, your performance on the strengths-based test, and your video interview, so you have already impressed - just keep that up.