Trainee Blog: How to Get a Training Contract - Utilising the Careers Services at University

During the application process, my aim was always to reach a point where I would be leaving assessments and vacation schemes knowing that I would be unlucky not to get the training contract and not "lucky" to get the training contract.

My university career service was invaluable in helping me to achieve that aim and I would recommend that applicants utilise any careers services available to them. In my experience, the support covered three key areas:

  • Developing vital career skills
  • Providing actual contact with the firms I was applying to
  • Career Mentor Scheme - a gateway into legal work experience through a career mentor

Career Skills

During my time at university I attended skills and career events including:

  • Academic writing workshops
  • 1 on 1 CV workshops
  • Mock interviews
  • Mock assessment centres

All of the above helped me achieve better grades and feel more confident when applying for training contracts. The mock interview took place in front of a group of peers who then provided feedback and this was, as I am sure you can appreciate, more daunting than any actual interview I have ever done.

The academic writing workshop saw my grades rise by about 5% on average and while no amount of mock assessment centres can remove the nerves on the day of a real one, they certainly helped me to prepare.

Contact with Law Firms

You are also able to sign up to:

  • Networking events
  • Open days and law fairs
  • Commercial awareness presentations

Some of these events will suit you and others will not. I personally found that open days were far more helpful than networking events but both certainly have their advantages. For example, I was accepted onto a vacation scheme where all of us bar one had been on a previous pizza night with the firm. This may sound coincidental, however, it highlights that HR teams are keen to progress with candidates who have made an effort to attend events that they have specifically organised with recruitment in mind.

Open days provide an insight that puts you ahead of other applicants. Having attended the Michelmores open day I was able to apply for a training contract with genuine knowledge about the business as well as the current and future challenges facing the legal industry.

Career Mentor Scheme

I was provided with a career mentor who had attended my university a number of years ago. She put me in touch with lawyers in a number of different practice areas and parts of the country. This enabled me to make a decision on the type of firms I wanted to be applying to and gave me genuine evidence when I was asked the age-old classic: "why this firm?"

The scheme also provides a potential opportunity to gain legal work experience for those who are having little vacation scheme success and do not necessarily have contacts in the industry. This led to me spending a week at my mentor's firm allowing me to tick the "legal work experience" box when making applications.