How to get a Training Contract


1. Be prepared

Do your research and really know the firm you are applying to. When writing your CV and cover letter, be concise. Stick to the point and don’t try to embellish it with legalese. This applies also at interview stage. Answer the question asked. If the firm has a website which, for instance, publishes articles, has a newsfeed or shows something unique about the firm, be up to date on recent developments and refer to them in your interview to show you have done your research.

2. Identify what kind of practice you would like to work in

For example are you interested in certain practice areas? Do you prefer a casual or formal environment? Do you want to be in a smaller or larger firm? What work/life balance do you want? Know what you do and don’t like and what you are good at. Are you prepared to travel? These are all factors that should be considered so that if you are successful, you would be happy working there.

3. Be accurate.

Looking for jobs, completing application forms and amending your CV and cover letter is a time consuming exercise and it can be easy to get frustrated with what seems like constant checking and rechecking. Don’t get disheartened and ensure that every position you apply for has no mistakes. Check over it with a fine tooth comb for any typos or grammatical errors. These are elementary and mistakes on CVs are perceived as careless. You will not be called for interview if your CV and cover letter has typos in it. Get not one but two people to proof read everything before you send it.

4. Be innovative

What is it about you that makes you different? What skills or attributes could you bring to the firm that could contribute to an overall benefit to them? Have examples of your skills and achievements prepared, don’t just state them. Be able to exemplify why the skills you have are relevant to the position. Know what your strengths and weaknesses are and how to play to your strengths and overcome your weaknesses.

5. Tailor your approach

Be situation specific! One size does not fit all. It is crucial that you know what each firm is looking for so that you can show them you can work as a member of their team. Different places want different things. Amend your CV and cover letter to reflect your capacities as closely as possible with the firm’s requirements – but obviously don’t make it up. Most lawyers now double up somewhat as business advisors so it is impressive if you are commercially aware and business savvy.

6. Experience

While some experience of working in a law firm is preferable, list all work experience. It doesn’t have to be legal. Skills are transferrable. Being a solicitor requires a broad spectrum of skills which can be learned from a variety of industries and applied to any given situation.

7. Have the right attitude

Be positive, polite and friendly. Firms will want someone who is a flexible team member and who they can be confident sending into a meeting with their clients as a strong ambassador for the firm. Remember that it is still a difficult time for the legal profession but the right attitude will show that you are prepared to weather the storm. Be humble but don’t undersell yourself either.

8. Presentation

It almost goes without saying but be presentable – wear a good suit, iron your shirt, polish your shoes, don’t wear an overpowering scent. It is important to project a professional image. Be aware of your body language. A firm handshake, eye contact and a smile will be perceived as confident. Touching your face/hair, fiddling with your hands and gestures like this can be distracting for your interviewers as well as being a give away that you are nervous. Relax and try to appear confident and collected throughout your interview.

9. You as a person

While academics are highly important, they are not the be all and end all when it comes to getting a training contract. They will be given a different level of priority in different firms. Generally, firms will look for a trainee who can fit in with the people already there so it is important to give an impression of who you are. Be yourself and talk about your extracurricular activities. Team work sports are often highly regarded as are activities like debating as these teach you skills which are useful when transferred to your career. The main thing is to put together a picture for the person reading your CV or your interviewers of who you are outside the workplace.

10. Ask Questions

Have roughly 3 intelligent questions ready to ask your interviewers at the end of your interview. Ask questions which show that you have an insight into the firm and a perspective on topical issues in the legal industry. Displaying an awareness of law as a business as well as a legal practice is viewed positively. Your interviewers may have covered some of the questions you intended to ask during your interview. If this happens, do not ask the same question again just because you have it prepared. It will seem like you weren’t listening to them. Have a reasonable bank of questions prepared in case this happens. Find an aspect of the firm that you really would like to know more about. It is easy for interviewers to spot wrote learned questions so a little creativity will go a long way.



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