Published on August 6, 2018 by isabellaford

Sometimes you feel like you need a crystal ball to know whether you have enough solicitor work experience to get a training contract. Good grades are a given, but firms are very keen to interview applicants that can demonstrate they have gained valuable experience.

This blog looks to consider how much experience an applicant needs in order to get a training contract.

Want more information on how to get a training contract? Read our free guide!

Training Contract Guide

Quality Over Quantity

First off – the disclaimer: the work experience you have on your CV is only one factor firms will consider in deciding whether to invite you to interview or offer a role. However, transferable work experience can make an enormous difference in terms of helping you stand out from the crowd.

The important point to remember is that it really does come down to what that vac scheme, internship or previous job has added to your application. You could have two months of fantastic work experience within a commercial environment but you need to explain why the experience was fantastic:

  • What skills did you develop?
  • Is there any crossover between the two roles?
  • How did this assist in your decision to  apply for that firm?

It really does not matter how brief your work experience was if you can show how it helped inform your decision or enhanced your skills at all.

Remember also that work experience does not have to be solely law-related. Previous careers or jobs which have transferable skills beyond just practising law can go far in terms of demonstrating what your experience in, for example sales experience would assist in a business environment. The trick is to be able to discuss what you learned and how it would help as a trainee.

Find out the 15 Questions You Should Ask During Work Experience >>

Recognising the Reality

Yes, firms want to see you have skills or experience from previous roles or work placements that will add value to the firm but in many ways they really just want to know you genuinely want a career in law.

Being able to demonstrate that you shadowed a barrister, sat in the public galleries at court, spent time at a solicitors firm or any similar experience, demonstrates you have a commitment to a career in law.

Firms want to know that if you join them in a year or two, you will not suddenly want to leave because you decide law is not right for you. A training contract is a commitment between both the firm and the trainee so they want to know you are dedicated to the career – work experience can really help to evidence this.

Ultimately, work experience is your opportunity to get to know what it is like to be a trainee in a firm and get to grips with the likely responsibilities you will face. Whilst it is important for your CV so you can show firms you are committed to the career, first and foremost work experience is the main opportunity you have to know whether life within a career in law is right for you.

As stated, work experience alone is not enough to make a great training contract application. But if you can draw on your work placements and previous roles to help illustrate why you have the requisite skills or why you have a genuine interest in the law then this could make all the difference.

More on getting a training contract:

Author: Fergus Nolan


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