What is a training contract?
A legal training contract is a two-year period of supervised training that aspiring solicitors complete before they can qualify as a solicitor. During this period, trainees work at a law firm and gain practical experience in different areas of law, while also completing the Professional Skills Course.
The training contract is a crucial step in the process of becoming a solicitor, as it gives trainees a chance to put all their knowledge into practice, providing them with the skills and experience necessary to practise law.
Securing a training contract can often be a very competitive process; according to AllAboutLaw, there are roughly 5,500 training contracts available each year, with around 30,000 people applying for these places. That gives applicants roughly a 1 in 6 chance of being successful.
With that in mind, here are some of our top tips to give yourself the advantage when it comes to applying for a training contract…
Research the industry and the firms
Before applying for a training contract, it is important to take the time to do some in-depth research on the firms you are interested in. This will help you gain an understanding of the legal market, and what these firms look for in their trainees. Knowing what the firm is looking for will help you tailor your application to show that you have the skills and knowledge they’re after.
Gain work experience
Try to gain relevant work experience, such as internships, paralegal positions, or vacation schemes. This will demonstrate your interest and commitment to the legal industry and help you develop valuable skills and knowledge that can give you the edge with your application. It’s also quite common for law firms to give training contract places to those who have already completed a vacation scheme with them, so vacation schemes are considered one of the best ways of securing a training contract.
Attend legal events, join legal societies and engage with lawyers in forums and social networks. Networking can help you build relationships with professionals in the industry, giving you valuable support and knowledge when needed and potentially even leading to job opportunities.
Prepare your CV and cover letter
Make sure your CV and cover letter are tailored to the firms you are applying to, and highlight your relevant skills and experience. Don’t just change minor details on each application; pay attention to what each firm is looking for from its applicants, and word your CV, cover letter and any other supporting documents accordingly.
Many law firms recruit trainees up to two years in advance, so it's important to apply early to increase your chances of success.
Prepare for assessment centres
If you are invited to an assessment centre, make sure to prepare thoroughly for each stage of the process, such as written exercises, group exercises and interviews. Try to connect with people who have already experienced the process in order to get first-hand advice and tips from those who have been there before.
Be open to opportunities in different locations and practice areas. This will increase your chances of securing a training contract, and may also help you discover new areas of law that interest you, which you may not have considered otherwise.
Develop commercial awareness
Commercial awareness is a very desirable skill in a trainee solicitor. Try to keep up-to-date with the latest legal and business news, and develop an understanding of the commercial context in which law firms operate.
Demonstrate your skills and potential
During interviews and assessment centres, try to demonstrate your skills and potential by giving examples of your experience and achievements, using these to explain what you learned and how you can use this knowledge and experience to add value to the firm.
Don't give up
It can be a competitive process, but don't let rejections deter you. Keep applying and seeking feedback, and use each application as a learning opportunity to improve your skills and approach ready for the next time. Each rejection is a step closer to the right training contract for you!
Explore more career advice for law professionals here.
Find out more about legal training contracts here.
Browse the latest paralegal jobs here.