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A training contract application is an essential part of the process for landing that dream training contract.

Your application is the first impression the recruiters will get of you, so it needs to be well-written and tailored.

If you need some training contract application help, use this page to guide you through the various steps towards completing one, from conquering the training contract application form itself to writing a great training contract cover letter.

Want to know what will happen in interviews for training contracts? Go to our interview guide.

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Training Contract Application Tips: the Application Form

Your law training contract application form gives you the opportunity to demonstrate your dedication to a career in law. It also gives you a chance to show exactly why you’re an appropriate candidate for the role the firm is offering.

It’s important to take your time on this section of your training contract application. This is not something that can be completed in an hour, so set aside a good few hours to perfect it.

How to Answer Training Contract Application Questions

You can tell a lot about a firm from the training contract application questions it asks. Identifying qualities the firm is looking for in a candidate will help you answer the questions the way the firm wants you to.

Personality-focused questions

Some firms guide you with targeted training contract application questions like “give an example when you showed good leadership skills”. Others will be more vague, hoping you’ll have the astuteness to pick up on the characteristics they’re looking for. You can usually find a list of qualities on the job specification – use this as your guide.

Once you know what the firm is looking for, be specific with your answers. Saying you’re determined is not as valuable as giving the firm an example of a time where you showed determination.

Law firm questions

Training contract application questions will always include a variation of “why are you suited to work at our firm?” To answer this question effectively, you’ll have to research the firm’s practice areas, culture and values. Doing this will allow you to draw comparisons between what you’re looking for and what the law firm you’re applying to is looking for.

Commercial awareness questions

Commercial awareness is a key requirement for trainee solicitors. These types of questions will encourage you to show off your knowledge of the current legal sphere and how the law firm you’re applying to operates within it. Use them to provide examples of cases or news stories you have been following that are relevant to the firm.

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How to Write a Good Training Contract Cover Letter

Being able to write a good training contract cover letter is a skill that needs practice.

It’s the chance to make an impact on the recruiters before they even look at your training contract application form or CV.

The letter, similar to the law personal statement, should be no more than one page long with a font size of either 11 or 12. It’s important to be as concise as possible with it. Some firms will even give you a word count for your training contract cover letter, and if this is the case, you must stick to it.

Tips on how to write a good training contract cover letter:

1. Keep the introduction brief. Try to give details of your academic background, including what stage of study you’re at, to a maximum of three sentences.

2. State the reasons you chose this particular law firm. Do this by giving specific examples of why you’re applying to each law firm. Showing knowledge of each firm’s practice areas and explaining why these are of interest to you will demonstrate your interest.

3. Explain how your skill set and personality fit with the firm. Highlight why your skills and personality fit in with the specialisms and core values you have demonstrated knowledge of in the previous section.

4. End your training contract cover letter with any outstanding information. If you have any gaps or poor grades on your CV, explain them here. Finish by highlighting your availability for training contract interviews.

How to Write a Good Training Contract CV

Your training contract CV is a vital part of your training contract application. It should display a list of your academic achievements, relevant law experience and interests. It should be concise and take up no more than two pages.

A good example training contract CV layout:

1. Personal details

Include your name, address, email address and phone number.

2. Personal statement

Use this paragraph to highlight again why you are the best candidate for the job. Mention your skill set, work and extra curricular experiences and personal qualities.

3. Education and grades

List your most recent academic qualifications, the dates you achieved them and the names of the institutions you studied at.

4. Work experience

Start with your most recent work experience and work backwards. For each placement, include your employer’s name and location, dates and a brief outline of responsibilities, achievements and skills acquired.

5. Skills

Include any tech skills and foreign languages spoken along with all other relevant skills. If you’re applying for a firm in a small town, include a full clean licence if you have one.

6. Achievements

Include details of relevant prizes, awards, scholarships and any other notable achievements from work, education or your personal life here.

7. Extra-curricular activities

Include some of your hobbies and interests and mention whether they’ve led to you completing any courses or voluntary placements.

8. References

Include details of two referees. Ensure you have consent from your referees before you add them to your CV! It is a good idea to provide one academic and one work reference.

Read Top Questions and Answers for Your Training Contract Interview

General Training Contract Application Tips

Here are our top tips for completing a training contract application:

  • Keep your application interesting and engaging – if you’re bored by the form, the recruiting team probably will be too!
  • Ask someone with a keen eye to proofread your application for errors/sense/interest once it is complete.
  • Draw on any legal work experience where appropriate. It will help you showcase real-life examples and any transferable skills you’ve gained.
  • Take a copy of your completed training contract application form and CV for reference – they will be useful if you are invited for a training contract interview.
  • Customise your CV for each application. This will immediately make it stand out from the crowd, giving you that all-important edge.
  • Be truthful and ensure that any statements you make are accurate. Inconsistencies may be picked up during the candidate screening process and at your interview, which may jeopardise your chances of success, so don’t risk it!
  • If your preferred law firm specifically states how they want you to format your CV, make sure you follow that particular format.
  • Don’t repeat examples or content in your application form and cover letter. Try and think of new ones which will demonstrate the skills the firm is looking for

READ NEXT: Training Contract Interview Guide >>
Having trouble deciding on the type of law firm to choose for your training contract? Take our two-minute quiz!
What Type of Law Firm Should I Apply to?

More Application Tips From Top Law Firms

Read about what the graduate recruitment teams at Freshfields, Taylor Vinters and Herbert Smith Freehills want from potential candidates.


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