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We caught up with Ileana Boyes, an integral member of the Freshfields’ graduate recruitment team. Ileana explains the skills and attributes Freshfields looks for in its applicants for law training contracts, as well tips on getting a training contract!

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What can your candidates for law training contracts do to make themselves stand out from the crowd?

Our application form submission is a personal statement – 400 words for workshops, or 850 words for vacation schemes and law training contracts.

The best applications are those that are free from spelling mistakes and typos, and don’t have clichés (such as “I have always known I wanted to become a lawyer”). In addition, make sure that your application is tailored to Freshfields – a good rule of thumb is that if you can switch out the name of the law firm for another and it will still make sense, it is not specific enough.

Don’t leave out your non-legal work experience, such as volunteering roles, positions of responsibility, part-time jobs, etc. We are also very interested in hearing about the other things you get involved in, such as your extracurricular activities.

What key attributes do you look for in your candidates for law training contracts at interview?

At Freshfields, we look for a wide range of attributes, there is no ‘one size fits all’ trainee.

When preparing for the interview, make sure you research the firm, and can articulate your reasons for pursuing a career in commercial law. Have a think about your experiences, and how they have developed the skills that would make you a good trainee.

In order to make the best impression at interview, be aware of your body language – don’t fidget, make eye contact, and remember to smile! Don’t be afraid to let your personality shine.

What are the five most important attributes expect your trainees to possess?

  • Team player
  • Flexibility and adaptability
  • Sense of humour
  • Diligence
  • Determination and resilience

What are your top five tips for anyone currently applying for law training contracts?

  • Be yourself.
  • Take opportunities to interact with law firms, such as law fairs, on-campus presentations, open days and workshops.
  • Get friends and family to read your application.
  • Keep up to date with news, especially business news, and read widely.
  • Be positive – applying for training contracts is a very competitive process; if it doesn’t work out the first time round, persevere if you think commercial law is for you.

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