Top tips for applying for a training contract – what you need to know

read time: 4 mins

Applying for a training contract can be extremely daunting, especially when you have a lengthy application form in front of you and you want to make the best impression that you can. I have set out my top tips below, for any prospective trainee solicitors and undergraduates to help you through the process.

The first thing that is key to any training contract application is to do your research! This may seem very obvious but every law firm is different and will have varying values and core principles. Being able to tailor your application to the specific firm will show that you have really taken the time to understand the firm that you are applying to. If you are able to incorporate any core values into your application, this will go a long way! You have to be able to show that you would be a great fit for the firm, so being able to demonstrate your research is a key element of any good application. A good starting place is to familiarise yourself with the particular firm’s website or perhaps you could reach out to a current trainee to get a real insight into how the firm works.

Another key tip in being able to show that you would fit in well at the firm, is to make sure that you incorporate your personality into the application. This can be very difficult if you do not like talking about yourself and your achievements. However, being able to show to a law firm that you are the best candidate and that you have a life outside of work is extremely important. Do not forget that the firm will want to know about you and your qualities! If you can demonstrate other interests and hobbies, as well as charity work for example, the firm will be much more interested in getting to know you as a person.

I think it is very easy to think that all your application needs to show is that you have legal work experience, and although this is very important in demonstrating your interest in the legal sector, it is not necessarily the only thing that a firm will look at. It will be beneficial for you to have some previous work experience, but if this is not legal, there is no need to panic! Having the ability to tailor your previous work experience to a career in law and explain the types of transferable skills that you have gained, will still give the firm a good insight into the skills that you could bring to the role. This could be working under pressure, for example in a waitressing role or bar work, where everyone is demanding different things at the same time.

Another key tip is to demonstrate your commercial awareness within your application. Most of the time, firms will ask a question about commercial awareness within the application form itself – so this is a key point! The best way to try and demonstrate this is to keep up to date with current affairs and things going on in the world. It also helps to think about how current affairs affect business and law firms and the way they operate. For example, as sanctions are placed on Russia, could this potentially affect the firm’s Russian clients? I find that the easiest way to keep up to date is to have news alerts on my phone so that I am updated regularly. There are also a number of websites which could assist you with this. However, I think that going to the firm’s website and looking through their article posts can give you an indication of the types of issues facing law firms at that time.

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE proof read your application a number of times, this could be the difference between getting to an assessment centre and not!

Lastly, I would say the most important thing for any applicant is to BE YOURSELF! There is no point in trying to be something you are not, as explained above the firm wants to know you as a person and your qualities. Please do not compare yourselves to others – this will only hinder your personal progress.

For more information, please contact Zoe McGovern.

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