The LawCareers.Net Handbook 2021

Choosing where to apply

rights barrister? A commercial solicitor? A criminal lawyer spending lots of time in police stations? Or something else altogether? As an example, let’s say that you want to be a human rights barrister – the best way of going about the application process is as follows: • First, find out which sets specialise in human rights law – whether that is within immigration, police powers or another area search LawCareers.Net). • Next, notice what is particularly special or exciting about the set and what separates it from its rivals (look on its website to see whether there is a particular line of cases or a niche area of law that its tenants are developing). • Finally, see whether you match the criteria that the set asks for from applicants. Be realistic – if it asks for applicants with a first, you are unlikely to get in with a 2.2. If you meet all the criteria and the set has grabbed your interest, you should apply. Otherwise, keep looking, using the same step- by-step guide. This approach applies equally to other sets, law firms and practice areas. However, it is also important to keep an open mind about the exact area of law in which you end up specialising. You won’t know what you truly enjoy until you get some experience as a trainee or pupil, so don’t narrow your focus too early, especially in your applications. If you have no idea about what you want your specialism to be, focus on getting into a firm or set that offers a well-rounded training contract/pupillage. Many firms and sets offer a variety of seats and experience. In addition to reading the recruitment marketing, look for information and news about firms and chambers in the legal media, such as LawCareers.Net, The Lawyer, Law Gazette, Legal Cheek and Legal Futures. Which location? Once you have figured out the sort of firm or set you want to target, you need to consider

Do your homework before you apply to a law firmor set of chambers. Don’t send copied-and- pasted applications to dozens of firms. Instead, identify the type of organisation that youwant to work for and then target a select group to apply to. Lucie Rees, graduatemanager at Watson Farley &Williams LLP , advises: “Think about the opportunities you want during your training contract – for example, practice areas, client exposure and international seats. Many firms will offer you what you want, so one key thing to look at to help you narrow down your shortlist is the culture of the firm– is it somewhere you see yourself enjoying your time at work?” What type of law? Many firms and chambers specialise in one or more areas of law (eg, family, banking or media). They are proud of their services and are unimpressed when applicants fail to mention the specialism or, worse, get it entirely wrong. Don’t applywrite to a firm that is known for its corporate work saying that you want to be a patent lawyer. The head of graduate recruitment at one City firm says: “What drives me insane is when applicants talk about a practice area we don’t have - for example, ‘your thriving media practice’. It comes across as sloppy and badly researched.” So it pays to match your comments to the firm – achievable only by doing your research. Meanwhile, Natalie Connor, general counsel at Flatfair and previously a barrister at 11KBW has this advice for aspiring barristers: “Apply to places where members practise in the areas you are interested in. Many sets will advertise themselves as full service, when in reality they deal almost exclusively in one or two specialist areas. A good way of finding out what those areas are is to look at the ‘news’ and ‘recent cases’ section of each chambers’ website to get an idea of the high-profile cases members are involved in.”

Think about what broad sort of lawyer you want to be: do you see yourself as a human


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