Top tips on applying for a training contract
Training contract applications can be daunting so here are my five top tips to help with the application process:
- Work out what you want
The first stage is to work out what you want from a law firm and from a training contract. City, high street and regional firms all have different cultures and offer different types of work. Before applying try to experience a range of firms and areas of law by attending law fairs, open days and vacation schemes. An open mind is important but having an idea about what area of law you would like to practise in and what type of law firm you would like to work for will focus your applications. This will also mean that, if successful, you will end up with a training contract that will suit you.
- Tailor your applications
At first glance it can seem that every law firm is the same, but each offers something different and the experience of trainees during their training contracts can vary hugely. Finding each firm’s USP is important and this can only be done through thorough research. For example, when I applied to Cripps PG their focus on people and care for both staff and clients was what made them stand out against other firms. Once you have researched, it is important to tailor each application to the particular law firm. This means making sure you are referring to the correct law firm and only talking about areas of law which that firm specialises in. It also means explaining why a firm’s USP is important to you and demonstrating how you will be able to contribute to this. Tailoring your applications will make them more honest and authentic and help them to stand out.
- Commercial awareness
Being commercially aware means being aware of the business context in which legal advice is given and how current events in the UK and beyond will affect law firms as a business as well as their clients. A key part of applying for training contracts is keeping up to date with the news and considering how this will affect the legal sector as well as private and commercial clients. Be aware of political events, as well as key cases and legislation changes in the areas of law you are particularly interested in.
- Utilise your skills
Whether you’ve had years of experience working in a law firm or are fresh out of university you will have gained skills that will be useful in a training contract. Among other skills, trainee solicitors need to be able to manage their time, to be organised and flexible and to be able to communicate well. There are many ways these skills can be gained outside of a law firm, such as through volunteering, working a part-time job or playing a sport. Don’t undervalue the experiences you’ve had. Instead, think about what you have learned and how you would use this as a trainee solicitor.
- Don’t give up!
The most important tip is don’t let rejections deter you. Persevere with the applications and don’t panic if you don’t get a training contract on your first attempt. Rejections are difficult but can be useful if used effectively. Try to get feedback from as many interviews and assessment days as possible. Remember to find out what went well, as well as what you can improve on in future applications. If you are unable to get feedback, use the experience to get confidence and practice at the application process.