The time is here—law firms across the U.K. are beginning to recruit for trainees, and if you are among that hopeful group, you need to realise that you are in a very competitive field. Figures from a few years ago showed that on average, there are 65 people competing for every single training contract in England and Wales, meaning that you need to excel in both the interview process and what gets you there in the first place - your law firm job application.
Let’s start by covering what you should include in your application. For example, there will be questions regarding why you are choosing the firm and what your goals are when it comes to being a solicitor. You may also be asked to provide stories regarding experiences you’ve had or moments where you’ve shown leadership.
Try to avoid being overly generic when it comes to these situations. Most would-be trainees have a shared set of experiences when it comes to their training or academics. Try to avoid leaning wholly on those, and use personal experiences, if appropriate, to stand out. Authenticity is imperative when it comes to getting a training contract, and your experiences are the best way to showcase this. Clichés like “I always wanted to be a lawyer” don’t get you very far.
When you’re finding out the way to differentiate yourself, let the type of law firm you are applying to guide your hand. For example, are you applying to a full-service firm? Or one that specialises in certain areas like copyright law or family law? Every single firm looking for trainees wants to know that their trainees aren’t just replicating application after application, but have a genuine interest in their firm and what their services are. Use your research skills to make sure that comes across in your application. This also means looking at the criteria each firm has. If you don’t match, it’s probably going to be a waste of your time, considering how fierce the competition for places is.
When it comes to law firm applications, you also want to keep some of the basics in mind. This means checking and re-checking, for grammar and spelling mistakes, ideally using your own editing and third-party-tools such as Grammarly. Any trainee solicitor needs to have an attention to detail, and a typo shows the firm that you don’t have this trait. Another thing to keep in mind during the application process is that this is only one part of the overall process. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see initial success, but do try to learn from past mistakes when you put together new applications.