So you’ve decided you want to become a solicitor but where do you start with the application process? Most people start to think about securing a training contract when you start the application process however if you are serious about a career in law it needs to be a lot earlier!
Tip 1 – Get good marks in your first and second years!
As first year results have little, if any, bearing on the final degree result, some students make the assumption that the first year of their degree course will not be taken into consideration by future employers. Whilst your first year of university is of course a time to enjoy the university experience, it is important to recognise that with the competition for training contracts being so high that the marks gained now and even A-Levels & GCSEs will be taken into consideration by law firms when considering vacation scheme applications.
Tip 2 – Become a well rounded individual
Alongside good academics, law firms are also looking for interesting, dynamic and worldly individuals who are adaptable and can easily get on with people of different backgrounds. Firms also want to recruit individuals who are able to fit into their existing teams with ease, so, try to get out of your comfort zone from time to time to test yourself and your ability to deal with unfamiliar situations. Firms will also want to gain an insight into who you are and what your passions are outside of academic study. Taking part in extra-curricular activities and talking about your hobbies and achievements is a great way to demonstrate that you can work well as part of a team, that you have leadership capabilities and that you can manage your time effectively.
Tip 3 – Get some work experience
Another step to a training contract is to ensure that in addition to a sound academic record, you go out into the market place and get some exposure to the life of practising lawyers with work experience. This could be anything from two days, two weeks or a vacation scheme at different law firms. You will gain a wide range of work-related experiences that could be asset tracing at a magic circle firm to attending police stations for a high street firm.
Tip 4 – The application form
The dreaded application forms…… so many and so little time! Make sure your covering letters and CVs are well written and professionally presented. This is definitely not a time for spelling errors or sloppiness. Do your research and think about the firms you really want to work for, if you want a good work life balance don’t waste time applying to the Magic Circle firms. If you want to be working on share purchase agreements for household names perhaps the small high street firm isn’t for you. Think about what you want from a firm then do your research to find the firms that offer that and apply accordingly. Whilst making more applications could give you more opportunity of getting a yes, you are at danger of spreading yourself too thinly or ending up at a firm not right for you.
Spend quality time on each application and tailor your answer to each question, don’t cut and paste generic answers, as much as you may think it’s not, it is obvious. Set aside time for making applications and don’t leave it to the last minute.
If you are successful in your application and secure and interview be sure to read my other blog about surviving the interviews & assessment centres.