Training Contracts: Advice for Aspiring Solicitors
BPP Law School hosted a very informative webinar for anyone thinking of becoming a solicitor last week. During the event, speakers from the industry detailed what life is like as a solicitor and what candidates should do in order to make themselves stand out from the crowd when making training contract applications.
Securing training contracts is a key step for aspiring solicitors and law firms are always on the lookout for applicants, so there are plenty of opportunities. Here are some of the key points to take away from the webinar:
If you are someone who enjoys building a case within a team setting, communicating extensively with clients and drafting legal documents, then the role of a solicitor is likely to appeal to you. From a purely practical perspective, if you are someone who enjoys the security of being employed, a monthly salary and statutory employment rights, then you are more likely to choose this career path over becoming a solicitor.
Ultimately, decisions over lifestyle choices are very personal and will depend on each of your needs, skills and professional aims.
I want to be a solicitor – but where should I do my training contract?
Once you have decided you want to pursue a career as a solicitor, it is vitally important to ensure you select the right law firm. Ultimately, you will be spending a lot of time at your workplace; therefore it is crucial to make sure you are working somewhere that you feel comfortable.
To answer this question, numerous factors are brought into the mix: the size of the firm (and team) that you want to work with, whether there is any scope for travel (regionally and/or internationally), whether the firm specialises in specific areas of law or operates a mixed practice etc.
Especially if you are applying for a training contract before commencing the Legal Practice Course (LPC), it is advisable to check which firms are prepared to fund your study – given that significant student loan debts may have been accrued by this point, this could provide the twin relief of a fully funded degree and the security of a training contract upon successful completion of the LPC.
Be aware of varying recruitment processes for training contracts
The recruitment of trainee solicitors is varied, owing to internal company policies and the resources available to them. Therefore it is very important to check and track your route to application. In terms of formal qualifications, law firms expect candidates to have a Qualifying Law Degree and the LPC – however, the proposed Solicitors’ Qualification Examination could shake things up in the future.
In terms of applications, many firms now tend to recruit trainees from their intake of paralegals. The reasoning behind this is that the employers have seen their work first hand and have a good understanding of their talent. Other firms recruit their trainees predominantly from their vacation scheme intake. Planning is therefore key because where firms recruit trainees from their vacation schemes, make sure you stay alert for the opening of those specific application windows.
Law firms are interested in far more than just stellar academics. You must take every opportunity to make yourself standout. When being interviewed for training contracts, employers are looking for candidates with a wealth of experience that can be transferable to their role as a trainee.
In order to make yourself ‘practice ready’, there are numerous opportunities to take on positions of responsibility and university societies, community outreach programmes, pro bono work, and part-time employment. Whatever the job and whatever the experience, you will be able to find something transferable into your potential future job as a trainee solicitor!
This final point is designed to underpin everything that has been said above. Thorough research is the key to plotting your route towards securing training contracts. Understand the market landscape and delve into all the available information to make sure you are fully prepared for applications and interviews. Employers will immediately take a shine to someone who is meticulous in their preparation. There are many resources such as The Lawyer Portal that will help shed light on many application-related queries you may have, but also provide up-to-date legal news developments and issues.
The Solicitors’ Qualification Examination (SQE), which is set to change the way all solicitors qualify from 2021, is a hot topic in legal news as it will hugely affect routes to law qualifications, overhauling the formal exam process. Find out how it will affect you.
Life at the Bar is known to be both demanding and rewarding in equal measure. Therefore, BPP advised that you consider whether you would be suited to that lifestyle, before you even decide to start the BPTC.