If you think a career in Commercial Law might be the right route for you, read our quick little guide to Training Contracts. We reveal what they are and why they matter when it comes to building a brilliant legal career.
All of the top firms offer Training Contracts to law graduates, with some also offering spots to those from a non-law background.
Completed over a two-year period, Training Contracts are well structured and offer huge opportunities. These include professional skills development, exposure to a range of legal activities and interesting clients, generous remuneration and a very high probability of continued employment once completed (the retention rate is over 80% in some firms).
The training process
For commercial lawyers, the training process will balance contentious and non-contentious work, early responsibility and support. An emphasis is also placed on professional and personal development. Trainees will take on four six-month seats during the two-year training period.
In addition, trainees are often encouraged to go on client secondments to well-known companies or undertake an overseas secondment to international offices within Europe or beyond - think Dubai, Hong Kong, Singapore or Tokyo.
How you are managed
Trainees are assigned to, and supervised by, partners or senior associates in each seat. The supervisor provides work, monitors performance and provides general guidance and support through the duration of the seat. Every trainee is also likely to be assigned a partner mentor for the duration of the Training Contract to provide advice and counsel on matters relating to the firm.
The application process
Most commercial firms tend to interview law students in the September of their final year, though an increasing number of interviews take place earlier. And many candidates are already known to the firm if they took on a Vacation Scheme with them in their second year.
If a Training Contract offer is made, it will normally be for two years ahead - for example an offer made in September 2016 will be for a Training Contract that begins in September 2018. It is vital to apply in good time and make sure your applications are received by the firms of your choice well in advance of the closing date, usually 31st July. Check individual firm's opening and closing dates.
Not everyone that ends up making it as an excellent lawyer is absolutely certain this is the path for them from the age of 18.
Many firms welcome applications for Training Contracts from graduates who have studied and then worked in other areas first - for example banking, publishing or the arts - but subsequently decide that indeed a career in law is for them. Equally, graduates who decided to travel and work on language skills following graduation are also welcomed.