Training contracts are a crucial stage to becoming a qualified solicitor.
This blog will discuss the importance of your law training contract and how you should go about successfully completing your application.
Remember its a ‘dog eat dog’ world out there, and you need to do everything you can to ensure that your application is the best!
WHAT IS A TRAINING CONTRACT?
A training contract is based on a period of recognised training; the final stage of the qualifying process.
Once you have completed the LPC, you will enter the training contract stage of qualification. This stage involves working as a trainee solicitor in a firm of solicitors or another organisation that is authorised to take on trainees. You will be in this stage of qualifying for two years, but if you have previous relevant and suitable legal experience, it can be reduced by up to six months.
Think of your training contract as an apprenticeship. It will provide you with two years of opportunities and valuable experience that allow you to expand your horizons and improve your performance.
What you will learn, and what you will be doing within your training contract, will ultimately depend on the type of law firm for which you have applied. If you join a large firm, you are likely to spend your time in a range of different seats (departments) giving you an all-round feel to the possibilities open to you after your training contract has ended.
WHERE TO LOOK FOR A TRAINING CONTRACT?
The majority of large firms recruit online, you should do your utmost to research into the law firm for which you are applying. You can keep ahead of the competition if you take the time and effort to understand what makes a good application and how to improve your chances of gaining a Training Contract.
- Make good use of recruitment events such as law fairs and read up on what recruiters have to offer you, as well as illustrating what you have on offer.
- Match your skills to the qualities and attributes required from different law firms. Remember, every law firm will be looking for something different.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM YOUR LAW TRAINING CONTRACT
The training contract, including the Professional Skills Course (PSC), is the stage that allows you to put all your preparation, knowledge and skills into practice and develop as a solicitor within a law firm.
Normally, in larger firms, you can expect to spend four blocks of six months in different departments (these are usually called ‘seats’).
So, in other words, within your two years training, you generally spend six months in one seat, before rotating to another seat, i.e. another department. In smaller firms, this can vary. The amount of rotations you take in one seat will depend on the law firm which you have applied to. The Solicitors Regulation Authority however, does require trainee solicitors to cover at least three different areas.
In 2014, the SRA made some adaptions to the training contracts and education policies. The SRA no longer stipulates the exact terms and conditions of a person’s training contract, and therefore law firms have been given the freedom to design their own training programme which they see beneficial for their firm.
WHEN TO APPLY
The majority of law firms look to fill their training contract placements two years in advance.
If you are a law undergraduate, that means you need to be applying for a law training contract in June/July between your second and third year at university. However, this can vary depending on the law firm, and you will need to research further into the law firms in which you want to apply for.
For detailed information on when to apply for your training contract, please visit the following link: http://www.lawcareers.net/Solicitors/TrainingContract.
HOW TO APPLY
You will need to get in contact with the person responsible for dealing with trainee recruitment at the law firm you have applied for.
Remember, competition is fierce, and you will be competing against hundreds of other applicants, and therefore you need to make a good impression via your training contract.
Your application needs to be specifically tailored for each law firm that you apply to. Law firms will notice if you are using a generalised application, and it will affect your progress.
Details of contacts and the application procedure, I have provided you with a direct link that will be extremely useful to you:
TOP TIPS TO IMPROVE YOUR CHANCES OF GETTING A TRAINING CONTRACT
Below I have listed some of the KEY tips that you should consider when applying for a training contract.
Remember, you are an aspiring solicitor, and that means you need to be on your top game if you want to make it in the world of law.
- Without work experience, you will not progress in your legal career. If you don’t yet have relevant work experience, go out there and get some! You will not get far in the process if you do not possess the relevant experience.
Draft and re-draft your application before submission
- Draft your answers in a word document. This will give you the opportunity to check your work first before submitting your application.
- Be sure to check grammar, punctuation, spelling and layout.
- Another advantage of writing your application in a word document first is that it enables you to go back through and edit your answers. You should not rely on one sitting; write your answers and look them over.
- How can you improve? What is irrelevant? What else can I include?
Sticking to the word limit
- In your application, you may be given a word limit.
- You MUST adhere to this. Potential employers are looking for people who can follow basic instructions.
- The word limit is set for a reason, so make sure you know what the word limit is, and you don’t go over it!
Use ACTION words throughout your application
- Action words are words that will ultimately make your application stand out.
- Powerful action words you could include in your application are: produced, gathered, completed, improved, negotiated, organised, proficient, ability, professional etc.
Perfect your CV and Application For Answers
- Spelling mistakes, lack of information, poor layout, grammatical errors, incorrect information and offering nothing substantial to an employer, are the most common mistakes on a CV and job application.
- Make sure you have someone else go over your CV.
Each application needs to be tailored to each law firm
- DO NOT submit a standardised application.
- Your application needs to be specifically tailored to each law firm.
- Each law firm is looking for different skillset, personalities and experience, and therefore you cannot simply hand in an application that does not reflect what they are looking for.
Make Sure You Have A Great Cover Letter
- Your cover letter is your chance to let the employer know about you and why you want to work for them.
- Do your research about the firm so you can be sure that your cover letter tells them you have what it takes to be a solicitor for their firm.
- Not all law firms ask for a cover letter, but just in case, you need to be prepared for this!
Read through your application at least THREE times
- Before submitting your application, make sure that you have read through your entire application thoroughly.
- Your application needs to be spot-on and any errors will affect the success of your application.
Use a sensible email address
- Becoming a Solicitor is a big deal and is considered a very intellectual and professional career.
- Therefore, you do not want to ruin your chances of gaining that all important law training contract, by using an inappropriate email address.
- Make sure that your email address is professional – it needs to give the right impression to your potential employers.
Give Yourself An Interesting Persona
- Simply stating on your CV that you like to read or watch movies will make you seem boring to an interviewer.
- There is nothing wrong with going sky-diving and listing that as a hobby.
- There are so many hobbies out there that show personality, and if you do it once, you can list it as something that interests you.
- Make yourself interesting and exciting.
Consider Your Location
- Because the competition is so tight in this field, people are willing to travel far and wide to get a position.
- There is no rule that says you have to state your address on your CV.
- If you have relatives near a firm you are interested, feel free to use their address. This gives you a tie to the area.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
During your period of recognised training (training contract), you will also need to complete the Professional Skills Course (PSC). The PSC is the final and compulsory part of your training before you become a qualified solicitor.
For more information on training contracts, professional skills course, requirements, tips and the process of becoming a solicitor, take a look at our guide!
How2become a Solicitor is the ultimate guide for anyone who is thinking about becoming a solicitor. This book will provide you with all the necessary information you will need to consider to make that decision, and understand whether or not a job as a solicitor is rightly for you.
Here is the direct link to our guide How2become a Solicitor: