Five Things I Learned at BPP’s Training Contract Webinar
BPP’s How to Land a Training Contract webinar offered crucial guidance for aspiring lawyers. Intended for students who have done limited research and are just beginning to prepare their applications, the webinar offered a 10-step action plan to ensure effective preparation and successful applications.
Jonny Hurst, who hosted the webinar, brought his extensive experience at one of the country’s top law schools and his previous career as a partner in a Top 100 law firm. He was also joined by Maite Aguirre, student and future trainee solicitor at Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP, who shared her advice for those embarking on training contract applications this year.
As the second webinar of its kind, tickets sold out pretty quickly. For those who missed out on a place, here are five key highlights to guide you when completing applications this autumn:
Do Your Research
Applicants should treat their career as the module they are not taught at university. A huge amount of research needs to go into a successful training contract application, and it’s advised that you use your first semester to complete these.
Research characteristics of firms including size, locations, key practice areas, training contract structure, corporate social responsibility and retention rates. It is important that you ensure your interests align with the firm and its specialities and you tailor your application to reflect this to show that you would be a good fit.
However, bear in mind that everyone has access to these resources so you need to make sure your application stands out from others. So attend open days and virtual events hosted by the firm to get to know it a little deeper. A key tip is to also find key deals and familiarise yourself with client names which shows you are aware of the type of transactions they do and are interested in their work.
Students should also take advantage of their university’s careers centres, law societies and alumni networks and seek advice from mentors or buddies.
Make the Most of Law Fairs
Law fairs offer valuable first-hand exposure to the firm and its culture and environment. They also provide an opportunity to connect with the people who work there which can help you decide whether you are a good fit for the firm and vice versa.
To maximise your opportunities and make the most of them, students should have a plan of action when approaching law fairs:
Attend as many fairs as possible
Do some preparation beforehand by researching who is exhibiting and brainstorming questions you may have.
Do not ask common questions that you could figure out on your own by looking at the website
Connect personally with the firm by asking trainees about what they do. You can also exchange details to keep in contact with them in the future.
Practice Speaking in Virtual Settings
In light of the coronavirus pandemic, we can expect a growing dependence on virtual technology for law careers events and interviews. The former offers a crucial opportunity to network while the latter is integral to your application and it is therefore important to make a positive impression online. Try practising common questions and crafting strong answers to demonstrate your thought process.
Coming across as confident and engaging on camera will also demonstrate that you are tech-savvy and are able to hold a conversation in various settings. These are important skills for aspiring lawyers to demonstrate and can make or break your application.
There are also simple, but easy to forget, details to consider such as ensuring you are in a quiet space and do not have anything inappropriate or distracting in the background.
Complete Your Applications in Advance
While there is a temptation to perfect your applications and submit as close to the deadline as possible, this is not advisable. Maite suggests submitting around a month in advance. This is particularly important for firms that recruit on a rolling basis which means that the firm interviews candidates as they apply. By the time the deadline comes around, the firm may have offered all their available spaces.
Craft Tailored Applications
One of the most common questions for training contract applicants is how many applications students should complete. Eight to 10 applications are advised. Completing too many applicants will risk a lack of focus on the firms you’re applying to. You’re also more likely to copy and paste answers which are easy to spot and undermines your application. It is very important that your application is specific to the firm you are applying to, demonstrates your knowledge of the work they do and highlights how you embody the qualities they are looking for in their trainees.