Grace Watson is a Trainee Solicitor at Bevan Brittan a top-UK 100 law firm, she kindly shared how she secured her training contract, her top tips for application and what it’s like to work at the law firm.
How I secured my Training Contract Bevan Brittan
My name is Grace and I am currently a trainee solicitor at Bevan Brittan in our Leeds office, and due to qualify into the Bevan Brittan Construction Team in September 2022. I started my training contract in September 2020 and have worked within a variety of teams as part of my training, including property, clinical negligence, construction, corporate and banking.
I originally went to university to do Criminology but quickly realised that wasn’t for me and so transferred over to Law. Following university, I spent some time working as a paralegal while undertaking my Legal Practice Course before securing my training contract at Bevan Brittan.
What it's like to work at Bevan Brittan
Bevan Brittan LLP is a UK Top-100 commercial law firm which operates nationally across construction, energy & resource management, higher education and financial services sectors, complementing the firm’s market leadership within housing, local and central government and health and social care, with the firm’s award-winning legal and regulatory teams based across its offices in Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds and London.
The teams work within one of four departments: Property (including the commercial property, healthcare property and social housing teams), Clinical Risk (clinical negligence and health, care & regulatory teams), Litigation, Advisory & Regulatory (including the litigation, employment and procurement teams), and Commercial & Infrastructure (including the construction, energy & resource management, corporate, IT and commercial health teams).
Trainees at Bevan Brittan can expect to do an interesting mix of work. I have really enjoyed the variety of work I have done as a trainee here.
The training contract application process
You can apply for a training contract at Bevan Brittan via a vacation scheme or through a direct application (i.e. without having to undertake a vacation scheme). It is important to check the deadline for both before applying.
The application process consists of (a) an online application and (b) a short pre-recorded video assessment in the first instance. Successful applicants for the vacation scheme then do a two week hybrid placement, which is a combination of home working and office based learning.
Our interns spend the duration of the placement in one of our teams, but also have the opportunity to hear presentations from other teams, including business development and initiatives such as responsible business, and equality, diversity and inclusion.
Our interns also prepare and present a group presentation on a specified topic (e.g. a tender for a potential client), and at the end will have a partner interview.
I came through the vacation placement route – it is a good way to get to know a firm. You can find out more about our vacation scheme and training contracts on our website https://www.bevanbrittan.com/careers/starting-your-career/
Top tips for TC applications
One of the most important tips is to do your research on every firm you want to apply to. Look through the firms’ websites and LinkedIn pages to get an idea of the type of services they provide and the markets they and their clients operate in. Look out for any big projects, cases or initiatives the firm has been involved with recently and make sure you are talking about these in your applications / interviews.
Firms will very quickly pick up on “cut and paste” applications and, while I would say certainly don’t put all your eggs in one basket, it’s better to apply to a few firms with high-quality, tailored applications instead of sending out multiple similar applications in bulk.
Another tip (which I know is a bit cliché) is be yourself. You’ll find that firms all have different cultures and ways of working and it will be abundantly clear if you are trying to present yourself as someone you’re not.
It can be hard to get a good idea of what a firm’s culture is just from looking at their website, so vacation schemes are also a good opportunity to see if the firm you have applied to is actually a good fit for you and somewhere you can see yourself progressing your career. Looking back on my own experience, I can certainly say that there were a number of firms I applied to which in hindsight would not have been a good fit for me as a trainee or as an NQ.
It’s also important to remember that firms aren’t just assessing you on your legal knowledge and academics, and in reality this is actually a small part of what most will look at.
What’s more important is your attitude and character – firms want a trainee that can demonstrate enthusiasm and a good work ethic, while also being personable and a good fit for the firm’s culture and clients.
And finally, remember to persevere! There is no doubt that the TC application process is highly competitive and some firms receive hundreds and hundreds of applications for a handful of trainee positions. I know some people who were successful after a couple of applications and others who were successful after 3 / 4 years of application cycles, so just bear in mind that it might not happen straight away.
There are also alternative routes into the legal profession which you might consider, for example, Bevan Brittan offers opportunities such as becoming a Chartered Legal Executive via CILEX, or qualifying by undertaking a solicitor apprenticeship with the firm.