A training contract application is like a sales pitch to a potential employer. While there are no hard and fast rules on what you should and should not include in your application, there are certain key qualities that law firms seek in their future trainees and which you should make sure to demonstrate in your application.
It is essential for a trainee to have strong oral and written communication skills in order to effectively carry out their everyday tasks.
Strong interpersonal skills are integral to client relationships. As a trainee and throughout your legal career, you need to develop strong client relationships and build confidence in your abilities.
Moreover, as a point of contact with clients, you need to be able to effectively gain the information that you need in order to best represent your client’s interest. You also need to be able to communicate technical legal issues to your clients in a way that is accessible to them.
Written communication skills are also key. A large proportion of trainees’ time is spent drafting letters and legal documents. It is consequently essential that you are able to effectively convey information in a clear and concise manner while also using the technical legal language that is required.
As a trainee you will be working for several members of a legal department at any one time, just as you will be juggling the demands of multiple clients throughout your future career. You therefore need to demonstrate that you can manage competing deadlines and organise your time effectively.
Accuracy is critical to the success of any legal career. The meaning of legal documents can be changed dramatically by the placement of a single word and spelling mistakes in correspondence with clients are unprofessional and can damage your firm’s reputation. Attention to detail is consequently a quality that all law firms seek in their future trainees.
Bear this in mind when you’re working on your application forms. It’s all very well saying you have an attention to detail, but make sure this is backed up by proof reading your application so as to avoid spelling mistakes and grammatical errors.
A solicitor often has to deal with complex technical and legal issues. Law firms are ultimately looking for candidates who can meet the intellectual demands involved and as a result you need to demonstrate that you have the capacity to do so. This can be evidenced through your academic achievements at university.
Commercial awareness is a buzzword that shows up on any website about training contracts and is a quality that all firms look for in their future trainees. In the legal context, commercial awareness can be summed up broadly as an active interest in business affairs and more specifically in the business interests of the legal industry and the law firm that you are applying to join. You need to be able to demonstrate that you are up-to-date on the latest business developments, their impact on the legal industry and the possible opportunities that they could create for a law firm.
Published: 22/11/17 Author: Hannah Capstick
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