Published on June 26, 2018 by Lydia Cozens

If you are reading this article you may have heard the usual qualities or ‘values’ every vacation scheme or training contract applicant should have.

I want to shed some light onto those less obvious, but I believe just as crucial.

Do you need advice on a training contract interview? Our guide will provide you with all the knowledge and skills you need to impress every interviewer.

Read the Guide

What Are Qualities/Values?

Before we dive into it, let’s explain what values are:

  • Principles or standards of behaviour; one’s judgement of what is important in life –  Oxford English Dictionary

Important because; “When your values are clear, making decisions comes easier to you” – Roy E. Disney.

Proverbial Wisdom

Plenty of vacation scheme promoters use marketable terms if asked the question, ‘How does one secure a vacation scheme?’

Apparently, you must be:

  • ‘Enthusiastic’;
  • ‘Proactive’;
  • ‘Interesting’;
  • ‘Punctual’;
  • ‘Commercially aware’;
  • ‘Confident’;
  • ‘Accurate’;
  • ‘Active listener’.

However, I don’t believe these terms sufficiently explain the distinct values you need to succeed in the role, rather they are base requirements for any job.

Values Less Well-Known

Having spoken to numerous barristers, solicitors, paralegals, judges in varying environments, the values these are the less well known but crucial attributes to succeed:

  • Honesty & Humility;
  • Kindness & Good Manners;
  • Positivity;
  • Sympathy & Empathy.

Find out more about how to prepare the perfect vacation scheme application >>

Honesty and Humility

Honesty is the fastest way to prevent a mistake from turning into a failure” – James Altucher.

For vacation schemes, this means being able to be truthful without being abrasive.

For example:

  • If the boss asks ‘do you know how to do this?’ and you have no idea how, the honest answer would be to admit that you don’t and ask for help.
  • If you make a mistake, the honest action would be to admit to it and explain what has happened.

In these cases, your honesty may result in further training. It always promotes trusting relationship which will benefit you in support and respect.

Kindness and Good Manners

Good manners will open doors that the best education cannot.” – Clarence Thomas.

Often, we are told the legal industry is cutthroat, with city firms epitomising ruthlessness. Rather, the ability to rise above this mentality is highly commendable.

  • Be kind to all the people you meet and interact with, which is especially key in networking;
  • Treat all people with respect – after all they you never know when you might need their help.

It is often advised to seek out work to better demonstrate your skills. By treating individuals with respect and kindness, there is a greater chance that they will offer to help you in the future and open opportunities for your benefit.

Read our top blog post on networking tips for people who hate networking >>


“When things go wrong, don’t go with them” – Elvis Presley.

Whatever role you have in this industry, there will be times when you find it difficult or draining. Rather than have exhausted and unenthusiastic employees, senior staff will look for positive candidates. The more positive your mentality, the more enjoyable you will find your role.

A few steps to be positive:

  • Be happy even when others do not openly acknowledge it – it is more than likely they have noticed;
  • Smile and always look for the positives of a situation;
  • Take everything in your stride, accept the unknown and take the opportunity to use it as a lesson.

It is possible to make the most stressful or tiresome work, a manageable learning experience. And employers will be more likely to take on a positive and proactive candidate than one who is an outward pessimist.

Sympathy, Patience & Empathy

Patience is a key element of success” – Bill Gates.

Empathy is a quality of character that can change the world” – Barack Obama.

There will be times during your professional working life when your workload will seem deliberately demanding or unfair. It is in these instances which you will need to practice patience and understanding.

It’s therefore important to:

  • Be patient with individuals, they are more than likely as stressed as you are;
  • Be empathetic and sympathetic towards their stress or work-related problems. A greater understanding from each other will help you both combat the problem you are dealing with;
  • Prove your sympathy and empathy for other people by taking part in pro bono or volunteering work.


Ultimately all the above values, whilst they may not be as obvious from a job application, will help you when applying for a vacation scheme or training contract.

Find out more about what law firms are looking for in candidates:

Author: Cameron Haden


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