Before filling in an application, make sure that you have all the necessary information regarding your education history. What each law firms asks for may vary – for example, some may not ask for your GCSE’s. A lot of big corporate firms are making a move towards not screening education history pre-university and even lowering their requirements to a 2:2. Make sure to find out what is required before submitting your application.
Some firms may also ask you to provide a predicted overall grade for university, so make sure to speak to your personal tutor or department beforehand to find out what your predicted grade is or if your own prediction claim can be supported.
Mitigating circumstances are circumstances outside your control that impact your studies and make it difficult for you to achieve your full potential in assessments. These circumstances can include loss, sickness, disabilities, trauma, great disruption to education (like protests), etc. Even if you have not made mitigating circumstances claims with your university, you can do so in your application.
In terms of how you should compose this section, I think it’s best to be honest about your experiences. Also, in situations you are able to, show what you are doing or have done to manage your education going forward. What measurements have you put in place to support your progression going forward? Recruiters are not meant to be discriminatory or biased, but for those who may be worried about talking about your circumstances (in fear that it will disadvantage you), hopefully this is a more reassuring way you can complete this section.
A cover letter and application questions are designed to complement your CV and makes it easier to see how your experience and interests align with the position you are applying for. In other words, it’s a way to (further) persuade the recruiter why you’d be a valuable recruit.
Depending on the law firm, you may be required to answer a few 250 or 300-word questions instead of writing a cover letter. In some cases, it may be a mixture of both.
These questions require you to be extremely succinct and cut out filler words and unnecessary information. It is better to have a maximum of four impactful points than trying to list as many things as you can within the word limit. Make sure that with every point you make, it is accompanied with evidence/an explanation. It is also advisable to leave the last one or two sentences to link back to the question and conclude your answer.
Check out our tips on how to answer questions within the word count.
Cover letter structures may vary, but based on my personal experience and endless research, this is a strong way to map out your cover letter:
Check out our tips on how to write an impactful law cover letter.
Example: “Firstly, the reason why I want to pursue a career at your firm is because I aspire to use cutting-edge technology to assist market-leading clients in creating more sustainable practices. Following Covid-19, businesses have been affected by their lack of IT infrastructure, which has also posed great challenges and opportunities for the legal landscape. The firm’s legal technology strategy has empowered clients to […] For example, its tool […]. During my own work experience, I took part in a Hackathon that sparked my interests in this type of tool and […] The firm’s stellar technology hub exemplifies opportunities for me to actualise my goals at the firm and I am excited at the prospect of […]”
Find out how to personalise your cover letter.
Some law firms may only ask for a CV, others may require you to fill in a work experience section and some firms may ask for both. When entering your work experience it’s important that you make sure to elaborate on the most relevant work experience. However, you should not neglect non-legal work experience. Whilst legal work experience exemplifies the breadth of your experience with law firms, non-legal work experience is also great for exemplifying how well-rounded you are and the breadth of your skills. This is even better if your experience shows long-term commitment and progression within the role.
Find out more about how you can use non-legal work experience to your advantage.
There is no such thing as unworthy work experience! However, if you feel like you do not have any work experience, you can talk about any law-related open days, presentations, programmes, etc. you have participated in. Just make sure that you substantiate the result and emphasise anything you achieved during it. For example, did you design something? Did your group win a task? What skills did it give you?
If you are a first year-student applying for a first-year scheme, for example, of course you will not be expected to have a lot of experience.
As mentioned above, some applications may require you to also submit a pdf copy of your CV. Although the content of CVs may differ, most CVs have similar formats:
Keep your personal information on your CV very standard: your name and your email address. Optionally, you can add a hyperlink for your portfolio or LinkedIn. Do not include personal information like your address and phone number, especially if this is a CV that you make publicly accessible. There will be a place in your applications to enter this information.
Keep your education summary very brief. For example, for your GCSEs you can put ‘9 GCSEs ranging from 9-6, including Mathematics & English Language’. Also, you only need to put the year you completed your qualification – not the duration.
So your CV isn’t too long, it’s best to just include three to four work experience examples. With each experience use no more than three bullet points to talk about it. One sentence that: (1) details your roles, (2) talks about the most impactful tasks you did -with quantifiable results – and, (3) describes what you contributed to the team, company, scheme, etc. Even though it is in bullet point form, make sure you write in prose.
Include a section to talk about this. This does not need to be elaborated and can just include the name and duration/year.
Include a bullet point list of things you have done accompanied by the duration/year of achievement. If you wanted to, you could add a few words for the opportunities you want to elaborate on – for example, why you got an award.
Find out more about how to write a ‘perfect’ law work experience CV.
Finally, you should never start an application for a law firm days before – at least when you can control it. Luckily, with law applications, you can start it, save a draft, and then come back later to complete – of course as long as it’s before the deadline.
The best thing to do is to access the application weeks before the deadline and copy and paste the application questions into a Word document. Never draft your answers in the actual application box – especially since they may not be a grammar check feature. Similarly, if you can see the application requires a cover letter, draft it in Word and upload it to your application when you are ready.
When you rush your application, you tend to make mistakes and sometimes the stress is unbearable. Giving yourself time allows you to continuously refine your answers and ask others to give you feedback. It allow you to be in more control of your hopeful success.
To conclude, despite standard formats law firms use for their applications, no two applications will look the same. The focus should be on making sure you show your best self in the most impactful way and successfully justify why you would be an asset. Do not be concerned with mirroring other applications, at most, just use them as a guide.
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