Obtaining a training contract isn’t a piece of cake. It requires patience and endurance. We interviewed 300 of our successful future trainees about their experiences and what it took to nail down that training contract. Here are some of their top tips.
Applications - quality over quantity
1. It is very tempting to fire off a ridiculous number of applications to as many firms as you can, but the best approach is to concentrate on just a couple of key firms and really put effort into the application forms. Ensure that you understand what the firm does, how it differentiates itself and what it prides itself on. You'll then be able to make bespoke applications to each one. Firms will always spot the generic applications that have been distributed using a scattergun approach.
2. When writing your application, think carefully about your answer to the question 'why do you want to apply to this firm?' The answer needs to be honest and stand out from all the other applicants. It also needs to demonstrate that you actually want to work at that specific firm and not just anywhere.
3. You might want to consider applying to firms that do not pay for the LPC (if you have already completed it). These firms may not be as sought after therefore there is less competition.
It’s a good idea to obtain vacation schemes or relevant legal work experience with transferable skills such a paralegal placement. Remember, every bit of experience looks good on your CV. It will also help you understand what type of firm you would like to work for, including the practice area. You’ll then be able to tailor your applications to firms that specialise in this type of work. Your clarity will mean you’ll be able to answer interview questions about why you want to work at a specific firm more thoroughly (and convincingly). The experience will also give you a greater network of legal contacts.
It’s important to make the most of each paralegal role you are given - ask to get involved wherever possible. One trainee mentioned that during her interview for her training contract, the panel were impressed at the breadth of her experience gained from working as a paralegal at various firms.
If you do obtain work experience, try and attend networking and social events. You have to prove you're technically competent by working hard but also personable and good at client facing situations. These interpersonal skills can set you apart from other candidates.
Interview preparation advice
- Know your CV inside out - lawyers are specialists in due diligence, so be prepared for tough questions about your CV
- Show that you are aware of your weaknesses but that you have tried to overcome them and are willing to continue to do so
- Be honest about yourself - one trainee told his future employer about his working class background as a point of pride
Don't give up. Manage your expectations and expect to receive rejection emails - you only need one firm to say yes!
For more advice and to get some paralegal experience, contact Rochelle George, regional manager at Page Personnel Paralegal.
T: 020 7269 2442