Competition for training contracts is fiercer than ever. There are far fewer training contracts available than there are law students, so candidates need to make themselves stand out in order to secure that elusive legal Holy Grail.
I set out some tips below to help you hopefully turn your application into a job offer:
Legal work experience demonstrates commitment to law, but also gives you the opportunity to experience what it’s like to work as a solicitor and to check that it’s for you. You don’t want to discover half way through your training that law is not your thing. Law firms equally are looking for the same assurance and will want to see evidence of a commitment and genuine interest. This is particularly important if you have a non-law degree. Don’t forget that non-legal work experience is valuable too – think about how the skills you used would be transferable to the role of a lawyer.
Make your applications count. Firms receive hundreds of applications. As a guide, Michelmores receives approximately 250 applications for the vacation scheme and 150 direct training contract applications per year. There are only eight training contracts on offer. To get through to the next stage, you need to make your application stand out (for the right reasons). Sloppy typos and spelling/grammatical errors are a big no-no and a fast-track to rejection.
Firms want to know why you have applied to work specifically with them. Avoid the temptation to mass-send a generic application. Firms can spot a copy and paste job very easily.
Open days, Q+A sessions, talks and careers fairs are all great ways for you to get to know a firm and for them to get to know you. Remember, firms run and attend these events because they are actively recruiting, so they will be looking out for promising candidates.
At Michelmores, trainees are asked to feedback about anyone that was particularly impressive (or not impressive) after an event. If you’ve made a good impression, it’s a huge tick against your name when you apply. Many of our current trainees were originally ‘spotted’ at an open day or careers fair.
Once you have attended an event, follow up! Drop whoever you spoke to a quick email to say that you enjoyed meeting them. It’ll jog their memory and put you at the forefront of their mind. And don’t forget to mention it in your application!
It’s not all about the academics. Law firms want to see that you have good social skills too. Lawyers spend a lot of time and energy networking and using their people skills to develop relationships with clients and colleagues.
Most applicants will have a degree and legal work experience etc. Whilst those things are important, to really be in with a chance of making the interview shortlist, you need something that makes you stand out from the crowd. If you volunteer at your local cat shelter, have spent a year travelling the world or are president of the ball-dancing society – great! Include it on your application.
The figures are disheartening and it’s always difficult to take a rejection, but keep going. The Law Society’s latest report shows that the number of training contracts on offer is increasing, which is great news for future trainees.
If you don’t get offered the job, always ask for feedback. Feedback is invaluable for improving your chances, because it allows you to identify your weaknesses (and strengths) and build on them, making you more likely to secure the job next time.
Applications for a Training Contract / Vacation scheme with Michelmores are being accepted now:
Exeter Training Contract 2017: Apply by 31 January 2017
Summer Vacation Scheme 2017: Apply by 28 February 2017
Bristol Training Contract 2019: Apply by 31 July 2017
Exeter Training Contract 2019: Apply by 31 July 2017