Posted on 7 Jan 2014
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Common questions from law fairs

Inspired by my recent attendance at the Law fairs I thought it may be of help to provide a few answers to some general questions that came up time and again. If you would like answers to specific questions about the firm’s training contract, please visit the career section of our website.

I am on a 2:2 and do not think I will be able to get a 2:1. Should I still apply?

Michelmores, unlike many firms, does not have a policy of only accepting graduates with a 2:1 grade or higher. I am informed, however, that the vast majority of successful training contract applicants with Michelmores do have 2:1 grades or above. Unfortunately obtaining a training contract is increasingly competitive and as such firms are able to pick from an ever greater number of graduates who will have 2:1s and above. It is therefore an easy way to reduce the hundreds of applications that all law firms now receive and will make obtaining a training contract more difficult. (If you have genuine mitigating circumstances then this is a different situation and this should be addressed on your application.)

So should you still apply? Yes.

You should, however, do your utmost to show the firm what you have over the applicant with better grades. You need to accentuate your positives. This could be that you have more work experience/ are fluent in a language/ were involved with sports teams etc. Law firms want more than just intellect nowadays and it is up to you to show the firm that they should employ you 2:2 notwithstanding.

N.B. I would also add that personally I do not think this is a question you should raise at a law fair. It does not give a great first impression and is not a good example of highlighting your strengths. I am aware most law fairs are over now, but prior to the next one make sure you read my colleague Kieran’s Top 10 Do’s and Don’ts for Law Fairs.

I do not understand why a firm would ask “what’s your biggest weakness?” what do they want me to say?

I do not think anyone enjoys answering this question, which is why so many firms ask it. It is designed to genuinely make you reflect. We all have areas of weaknesses and areas in which we would like to improve. It is in that manner that you should answer it. Being able to show you are able to reflect, identify a weakness and seek to overcome it is actually a major strength.

I am a mature student and have decided to change career path. Will this be a problem?

No.

It is, however, all about how you use it. The fact that you are a mature student gives you experience which the ‘straight out of university’ graduates will not have. It is for you to demonstrate how this experience can be an asset to the firm.

Please also have a look at my colleague Irina’s post Standing (a bit too far) out from the crowd? for a great personal perspective on not being a ‘typical’ candidate.

Are trainees usually retained at Michelmores at the end of their training contract?

This is an important question and something that is often overlooked. Retention rates are something that I think all future trainees should consider when applying to a firm. I hate to say it but getting the training contract really is just the beginning. The retention rates of firms are often published on websites like ‘rollonfriday’. Try and look at the average figure over the last few years, the occasional dip happens (the recession happened) but consistently low retention rates should be a warning sign.

FYI – Michelmores have had 100% retention rates in 2013, 2012 and 2011.

I hope this was helpful. There were many more interesting questions however these stuck out. If you do have a burning question you would like answered please post a comment and I will try to answer.