Have you reached the last leg before qualifying as a solicitor? Follow our advice below on getting a training contract.
Give yourself enough time to draft your application, have it reviewed by a careers adviser or close friend, and make the necessary changes. Sometimes, what you think is clear from reading your application may not be clear from another reader’s perspective, and the review process could help improve your narrative, as well as any spelling or grammar errors.
At first, many law firms may seem the same — they are all friendly, have diverse practice areas, and offer the chance to work with interesting clients. However, look beyond the glossy brochures and try to research each firm as much as possible beforehand.
This is important because not all firms are the same. For example, while both Firms X and Y have an Employment department, it could be the case that in Firm X, the department has an exclusively support function in corporate transactions. By contrast, in Firm Y, the department has its own clients and handles cases that do not necessarily involve the Corporate department.
By doing your research about the firm’s practice areas, office locations, and so on, you help yourself make an informed decision about which firms are right for you – and you’ll be more prepared to answer questions like ‘why this firm?’ at an interview!
You do not need a law degree to apply for training contracts. Sometimes, a law degree is not even enough to demonstrate a commitment to law. So, in order to answer questions like ‘why do you want to pursue a career in law?’, have a couple of items in your application that can show your commitment.
Doing a vacation scheme or a mini-pupillage is a good way to do this, but this is not the only way. Other ways include attending open days, shadowing, and spending time in a local solicitors’ firm.
If you are at university, the careers service department could be an invaluable resource for when you are applying for training contracts. Consider having your application checked by a careers adviser, doing mock interviews and attending mock assessment centres.
Additionally (or alternatively, if you are not at university), consider browsing publications like The Lex 100 and Chambers Student.
Early in the process, take stock of your own academic and work history. Make a list of the university courses you enjoyed, societies you are part of, open days you have attended or summer jobs you have had. For each item on the list, identify one or two skills you have developed.
For example, by working part-time in customer support, you improved your communication and interpersonal skills. This exercise will help you to answer competency questions more easily so that every time an application form asks, ‘tell us about a time you worked in a team’, you can simply refer to your list of experience.
Words: Pia Maske
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