How to secure a training contract
In this increasingly competitive legal world, the first hurdle to overcome in order to secure a training contract is to have a sound academic record. Good grades have to be attained throughout the duration of your degree, preferably a 2:1.
Law students should apply for their training contracts during the second year in order to attain a training contract prior to the commencement of the Legal Practice Course (LPC).
Aside from this, the be all and end all of progressing your legal career is to ensure that you have amassed work experience by having undertaken vacation placements or having worked as a legal assistant or paralegal. Taking part in student moots or essay competitions is another way to demonstrate excellence.
Students should know that there is not only competition for training contracts, but also for work and vacation placements. These work experiences are quintessential to demonstrate commitment to a career in law. The process of getting a work placement or vacation scheme at a law firm is seemingly daunting. In the event that you are unable to get a placement within a law firm, law students should also consider unpaid legal aid work or pro bono work with non-governmental organisations (NGOs), the Citizens Advice Bureau or law centres, even if they are unpaid.
One of the gateways to attain work experience is to attend networking events, which are normally hosted by universities and which are attended by different law firms. It is at these events that students are given the opportunity to get noticed by representatives of different law firms.
A display of personable skills is very important due to the fact that law firms are not only interested in academic pursuits, but also social skills that will help build their client base. This can be displayed through extra-curricular activities.
Attaining a new skill, such as learning another language (e.g. Mandarin) is also a good tip for securing a training contract. In a globalised world, there are more cross-border transactions that have led to a diverse legal practice across the world. A second language is an important skill in the eyes of prospective employers and can give you an edge over other applicants.
When students undertake work experiences, they have to ensure that they perform continuously, so that they distinguish themselves from the rest of their colleagues and are remembered by partners at the firm in the future when they are considering recruiting candidates for training contracts.
The other challenge is to have well written cover letters and a CV which is free of spelling errors. Attention to detail has to be demonstrated, as this is an important trait of good solicitors. It is also important to polish one’s interview skills by holding mock interviews with friends, as this allows you to think through answers to interview questions.