As an undergraduate law student, considering the wide range of Training Contract opportunities available can seem daunting. If you have decided to become a solicitor, you will need to secure a training contract or legal work experience to complete your two-year compulsory period of training work for the SQE.
There are many available, so it’s worth considering different factors that might influence which one suits your personality and interests. We've pulled together five important considerations.
1. Practice Areas
Perhaps the most important factor, practice areas are likely to be central to your decision in deciding which firm to apply to. There is a big difference between studying law and practising it, so consider which sectors are of interest to you and explore firms that specialise in this area.
Larger firms tend to cover a wide range of practice areas including corporate real estate, finance litigation, employment and tax. Spend some time doing research about the different departments within the firms you are applying to, and be able to talk passionately about why a particular practice area is of interest to you.
2. Client base
Spend some time doing research about the different departments within the firms you are applying to, and be able to talk passionately about why a particular practice area is of interest to you.
Spend some time thinking about the type of clients you want to work for, and the relationships you will build with them. High profile firms tend to have high profile clients, especially Magic Circle firms.
On the other hand, you might be more interested in working for smaller clients, which gives you exposure to more senior members of the organisation. When working for a smaller firm, you are likely to gain a large amount of responsibility pretty quickly, so your input will be visible.
3. Culture and size
The culture and size of a firm is often impacted on by the practice areas and client base they work with. Larger firms tend to advise global organisations, and will employ thousands of staff meaning the social scene amongst trainees is particularly vibrant.
The work is complex, and contracts are high-value, meaning you will work long hours in a pressurised environment. Instead, you might also want to consider a training contract with a boutique law firm, famous for offering specialist advice in a particular area like IT or media. When considering culture, it’s worth contemplating the kind of work-life balance you want to achieve. Magic Circle law firms mean long hours, so although you will have some time for socialising, this tends to be with clients and colleagues.
When considering culture, it’s worth contemplating the kind of work-life balance you want to achieve.
Have a think about where you would like your training contract to be based. If you love city living, perhaps you will be keen to pursue your career in the City and be remunerated with a generous salary. The largest firms are based in London, so there are plenty of opportunities there, as well as all the excitement that a capital city has to offer. However, London isn’t everyone’s first choice, so you might think about applying to a firm outside of London with more sociable working hours and a less pressurised environment.
5. Structure of Training Contract
Training Contracts are structured in different ways across different firms. The norm tends to be to spend six-month placements in different departments across the two year programme. Some firms choose to have shorter seats in more departments, whilst others will place you in one seat for longer than six months. If you're unsure of which practice area you want to specialise in, consider applying to firms where you will gain a greater exposure to different departments.
Deciding which firms to apply to is a big decision, so make sure you have done your research before submitting any applications. Read about the wide range of firms that we are partnered with at Bright Network, including CMS Cameron McKenna, Allen & Overy, Hogan Lovells, Taylor Wessing and many more.
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