5 Key Qualities Law Firms Look For in Applicants

A training contract application is like a sales pitch to a potential employer.

There are no hard and fast rules on what you should and shouldn’t include in your application.

However, there are certain key qualities that law firms seek in their future trainees, which you should make sure to demonstrate in your application.


It is essential that trainees have strong oral and written communication skills in order for them 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 an accessible way.

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.

Pro bono schemes offer law students an opportunity to hone their communication skills by gaining direct legal work experience.

In short, by working directly with clients and carrying out drafting tasks, law students are able to develop the skills that will be critical to making them an effective solicitor.

Time Management

As a trainee you will be simultaneously 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.

Participating in a range of extra-curricular activities provide a key means of developing your ability to manage your time.

Through this, you will gain experience in managing your:

Going through the training contract application process? Check out our guide to help you stand out to law firms.

Training Contract Applications Guide

Attention to Detail

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. Not to mention, spelling mistakes in correspondence are unprofessional and can damage your firm’s reputation.

Consequently, attention to detail is a quality that all law firms seek in their future trainees.

This is a skill that you can work on throughout your undergraduate degree.

A law degree and any arts-based undergraduate will involve essays, assessed coursework and exams. Each task requires you to proof-read your work to ensure that it’s concise, coherent and grammatically correct.

Academic Ability

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 developed through your academic work at university.

Commercial Awareness

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 is broadly an active interest in business affairs. More specifically, commercial awareness is an interest 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.

Make sure to thoroughly research the law firm that you are applying to. Look at their:

This will help you to understand the firm’s business and demonstrate this knowledge in your application.

Regularly reading the Financial Times or the Economist is also a really handy way of making sure that you keep up-to-date with the latest developments in the broader business world and their impact on the global economy.

Words: Hannah Capstick

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