Applying for a vacation placement or training contract at a law firm is always daunting. Competition is fierce and the professional environment is rather different from the university lifestyle. However, do not fear. Below are some (hopefully) helpful tips on what to do and what not to do throughout the application process.
Know what you want and who you are
Are you actually interested in a career in commercial law? Why? What is it about a career in commercial law that appeals? What can you bring to the table? What knowledge, skills and abilities do you have and what needs improvement? Think about these questions and answer them.
Develop your skills and experience
Actively seek out ways to help you become a better version of you! Join a sports club to build your team working skills, or sign up to a negotiation workshop to improve your confidence. Better still, do both. Think about what you learnt and how you developed. Having evidence of your skills will make sure you have something to talk about in your application form or interview and will help you stand out from the crowd.
Do your research
Make sure you really research the firm and are fully aware of any current developments in the commercial and legal world. Everyone will have access to a basic level of information i.e. our website and graduate brochure, so any research you can do over and above that will make you stand out. There’s nothing more impressive to an interviewer than speaking to a candidate who can talk knowledgeably about the firm's goals and ambitions, as well as having a thorough knowledge of their past achievements.
Be enthusiastic about business
This means showing that you are "commercially aware". Lawyers are expected to know what things can affect their client's business and not just changes to the law, e.g. will the currency fluctuations help or hinder their growth? The best advice is, although the FT is a strange colour and the print is far too small, reading it will help you develop in-depth knowledge of the commercial world and, therefore, evidence this requirement. No-one is expecting you to be an expert on every article, so why not focus on one or two stories which catch your eye and follow their development.
Have plenty of energy
You have to be keen and ready for hard work. Be prepared for hours of research or document review and some late nights. You can show you are willing by (1) getting stuck in and asking plenty of relevant questions, (2) requesting work when you have capacity to do more, and (3) demonstrating in your application that you keep yourself busy during the week with a variety of activities - write about how you are very organised therefore meet your workload and get good grades, handle a part-time job and still find time to go to the gym or see friends. Managing your time and prioritising tasks well is a very important skill to have as a trainee, so start doing this now.
Don’t be afraid to sell yourself, even if you find it awkward – your competitors will be doing so. This is your chance to showcase your abilities and achievements. Be proud of what you have achieved so far!
This is your chance to demonstrate your enthusiasm for the firm again. Don't ask something generic which you could have easily answered by looking at our website. Asking an intelligent question will make a good impression, but is also an excellent opportunity to find out more.