You’re coming to the end of your law degree, and you need to start applying to law firms for training contracts. Competition is fierce, but that doesn’t mean that you should just choose the first law firm you find. How you begin your legal journey can have a profound effect on the rest of your career.
So when it comes time to choosing which firms to apply to, here are some tips to help you make the best decision.
Don’t just fall for a slick website. Roll your sleeves up and research your shortlisted firm thoroughly. Look at their website and social media channels, then do a Google search and see what kind of stories come up.
Take a look at their financials too, they may tell a story that’s not being presented in their marketing materials. This can be a little more tricky at the moment due to the impact of COVID.
Check in the legal directories to see how their lawyers are ranked. You want to learn from experienced and well-respected lawyers. Visit sites such as Origin Legal to see what opportunities are available at the firm and what type of lawyers they hire.
Finally, check out their retention rates for trainees. There’s no obligation to stay with a firm beyond your training contract, but if there’s a history of newly qualified lawyers heading for the exits as soon as they can, this is a definite red flag.
Make Yourself Known To Your Shortlist
Many students secure training contracts while still studying, meaning that you can take advantage of multiple opportunities to build a relationship with them.
Drop them an email asking for further information on their training scheme and if they are planning on attending any law fairs near you.
Before attending a law fair, have a list of questions prepared to the people who are there representing the firm. Try and make them insightful, don’t solely ask about pay and conditions.
Sign up for any open days and networking events that they are holding. When attending, ensure that you are dressed appropriately and prepared for the event by doing your research and having questions or topics of conversation ready to talk about.
Good areas to ask about are the specialisms of the firm, the culture, what the plans for the future are and similar.
Work On Your Non-Academic Skills
There will be plenty of candidates with great academic records. You need to develop skills that set you apart and will be an asset to any law firm. These include things like learning to network, keeping up to date on the latest business news or relevant sector that they operate in.
Getting to the top of a law firm takes more than knowledge of the law, you’ll need to be able to identify opportunities and engage with people at all levels.
Securing a training contract with a reputable company is very important. However, it’s not always the biggest law firms that are necessarily the best fit for you. Look for a firm that has a great training program, good support for trainees and engaged senior lawyers who enjoy mentoring.
With a little targeted preparation, you’ll be able to show them that you are a well-rounded candidate for the position.