A training contract is a two-year formal training period for aspiring solicitors after studying law at university. To be accepted onto a training contract, you have to have completed a qualifying law degree e.g. the LLB, GDL, and also the LPC.
Landing yourself a training contract is one of the biggest challenges a law student will face, and this may not be immediately apparent when starting out at undergraduate degree level.
The training contract application process itself is time-consuming and requires an extremely high level of dedication, organisation and perseverance.
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Typically, law students will aim to complete placements or vacation schemes within a firm before applying for legal training contracts. Students are then required to complete several stages, such as assessment centres, telephone interviews and partner interviews before finding out whether they have been successful.
Due to the sheer volume of law graduates that enter the sector each year and the extremely limited number of training contracts offered, obtaining one is not an easy task.
Despite the potentially gloomy picture I’ve painted, this blog aims to inspire and motivate you by showing you that these ‘golden tickets’ to becoming a solicitor can be gained through slightly different means, specifically through developing and implementing your networking skills.
The answer is yes. Networking and getting involved in my law university’s extra-curricular events lead me to my training contract, without having to have completed a formal vacation scheme.
I attended an on-campus talk from the marketing manager of a law firm which focused on the importance of branding and marketing for lawyers. The talk concentrated on forming an online presence, and using platforms like LinkedIn effectively.
Following this, I sent the marketing manager a LinkedIn connection request, explaining that I had found the talk to be extremely useful. This resulted in being offered the chance to compete for a work experience placement at the firm through a blog writing contest.
Fortunately, I was successful and was rewarded with the placement. I put my networking skills to good use and connected on LinkedIn with all of the professionals I worked with during my time at the firm.
I reached out again a few months later and was offered a further placement. Having worked diligently during my time on placement, I was encouraged to apply for a training contract with them.
From a large number of applicants, I was selected for an interview and was lucky enough to be offered a trainee solicitor position, starting in September 2019.
Although my work experience with the firm would have played a large part in the outcome, these opportunities would not have arisen had it not been for learning about networking skills at the talk and putting them into practice.
There are more opportunities like this than you would expect.
Here’s how to give yourself the best chances at successfully networking:
If you are reading this, then you are already taking a step in the right direction!
Try to keep yourself as well-informed as possible all about networking techniques and any events happening near you.
Aim to attend as many talks, events and seminars as you can to boost your knowledge and develop new skills.
Perfect your online profile by creating a professional, accurate and current LinkedIn profile which can be used to network; this could be your greatest tool when it comes to standing out.
Don’t hesitate and leave too much of a time gap when making those valuable connections online – people are far more likely to respond and accept invitations if they remember meeting or speaking to you.
LinkedIn is a professional social platform. Be thoughtful about who you choose to connect with. Others can view your connection list and you will want this to reflect positively on yourself.
As my experience has hopefully shown that there are certainly several ‘uncommon’ legal experience opportunities to be had if you are brave enough to put yourself out there.
Have faith in yourself and don’t be afraid of rejection. It’s what helps you to grow as a person.
Although life as a law student is hectic and there is already a lot to do, pushing yourself to go to events will give you the best chance of making connections, mastering networking skills, and ultimately better placing you for those potential training contracts.
Words: Alexandra Lima
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