Posted by Charlotte Fisher, Trainee solicitor
Training contract applications – hints and tips
“There is no substitute for hard work” – Thomas A. Edison
Now that applications for training contracts are open, it can be a daunting and often stressful time given that there is high competition for places. It’s therefore really important to get to grips with how to submit a good application at the outset and make sure that you demonstrate what you could bring to prospective firms.
Unfortunately there is no secret to success other than hard work and perseverance. After finishing university, it took me three years of hard work, stress and rejection to secure my training contract! I found that as soon as I changed my approach to my applications, I was much more successful at getting through to the interview stage. I’ve shared a few of my top tips below to help you on your way to success.
#1 – Choosing the right firm
Before starting the application process, I found it useful to sit down and work out what I really wanted. Don’t feel pressured by friends into applying for firms that you don’t think would be the right fit for you as when you answer the question “why this firm?” you won’t be able to answer it convincingly.
Try to think about what is most important to you about your future workplace. It could be the type of clients you want to work with, the practice areas you want to gain experience in or work-life balance. For me, working somewhere where I felt comfortable to learn and wasn’t afraid to ask questions was key and that’s why the culture at Royds Withy King stood out for me.
#2 – Get to know the firm
Don’t just look at a firm’s website for information but try and find as many sources of information as possible. Look at what firms and their lawyers are sharing on social media or how you can meet them in person, for example at key events. Not only is this a good way to provide authentic information for your application, it also shows that you’ve really done your homework!
#3 – Limit the number of applications you make
Don’t send off hundreds of applications to different firms as you won’t be able to do each application justice. You need to make sure you spend a lot of time on each application to make it relevant to that particular firm and if you spread yourself too thinly you won’t make yourself stand out.
A good question to ask yourself when reviewing your application is “Could I just copy and paste the name of a different law firm into this application?”. If the answer is yes then you probably aren’t getting it right.
#4 – Make yourself stand out from the crowd
Sometimes it’s difficult to know what firms want from you and it’s easy to get distracted by trying to impress with legal knowledge. Of course this is important, but most people applying for training contracts have the same good grades and qualifications as you. It’s important to focus on what makes you unique and what you could bring to the firm trainee.
Think about the skills a solicitor needs and try to include these. For example, lawyers also need to have commercial awareness and bring in business. Think about a time where you have done something similar, either within or outside of the workplace.
When answering this type of question don’t be afraid to show that you have a personality. The firm is investing in you as a potential solicitor at the firm and you need to be able to build strong relationships with clients and work well with colleagues. You will be much more memorable if you mention that time you climbed a mountain in Bali and what you learned from that experience!
#5 – Don’t be afraid to ask for help
When you’ve completed your application get as many people to read it as possible and give you feedback. Your friends and family will know when you aren’t selling yourself enough and will be able to remind you of examples where you’ve demonstrated those skills. It also doesn’t hurt to have as many eyes double check your punctuation and spelling as you want it to be perfect.
I know this might sound strange but read through your application backwards. It makes any punctuation or spelling mistakes much clearer as your brain doesn’t fill in the gaps for you!
Our deadline for applications is fast approaching, make sure you submit your application before 28 April 2017. Remember, if you have any questions you can contact our Careers team on: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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