The LawCareers.Net Handbook 2021

Choosing where to apply

The size of the firm’s trainee intake is another factor to consider. Being one trainee among 60 or one of three starting that year will be different experiences. All solicitors’ firm and barristers’ chambers are different, but those that do similar work often share other things in common too and can therefore be grouped together (eg, City firms, regional firms and high street/general practice firms). Paying attention to these categories won’t tell you everything about a firm, but it will provide insights into practice areas, trainee salaries, whether a good work- life balance is offered, the possibility of going on secondment and so on. Find out more about what trainee life at each of these might be like in “Types of firm” on p141. As for barristers’ chambers, they can broadly be split into those that are in Central London and specialise by practice area – such as commercial, public law, common law and crime – and those in the regions, including the ‘supersets’. Students should make sure that the pupillage being offered is constructive and properly managed. A pupil supervisor should not only manage the workload for the pupil, in terms of who the pupil works for and when, but should also act as mentor. The pupil supervisor should also ensure that the pupil is not overworked. It is incumbent on all chambers to ensure that the pupil provides their best work for those they work for so that informed decisions can be made when a vote on tenancy is taken. Students should make sure they know what is being provided before they apply.” Matthew Parker, barrister at 3 Verulam Buildings , says: “Bear in mind the differences in day-to-day practice at different parts of the Bar. For some kinds of barrister, the emphasis is on regular court work; for others, the volume of paperwork is much larger. And choose an area of law in which you have a genuine interest.”

whether you’ll be happy with the location. It’s not worth applying to a firm in the City if you don’t enjoy London; your heart won’t be in it and this will be apparent at interview. Often, regional firms prefer applicants with local connections. This is because they will be investing a lot of money in their trainees and, not unreasonably, they want to see a good return on their investment. In asking whether an applicant has local connections, they figure that those with ties to an area are less likely to leave for greener pastures after the training contract ends. Also, regional firms want to be sure that you are not applying to them just because the London firms have passed you over. As one partner of a Yorkshire firm explains: “Does a candidate who has attended a prep school in Sussex, attended the University of Sussex and always lived in Sussex seriously expect us to believe that they want to move to Scunthorpe? There’s clearly no long-term commitment and we’ve received the application for a training contract only because the candidate has been rejected by every practice in the Southeast.” What sort of working environment? Many students find it difficult to distinguish between the different types of firm. However, many recruiters also talk about the need for students to have some idea of the culture of a firm, and whether it will match their needs and personalities. Rare Recruitment’s Puneet Tahim says: “It can be challenging for students to differentiate between firms, as many offer high-quality work. Students should therefore consider which other factors will influence their experience as a trainee. These may include the size of the firm; if you are interested in multi- jurisdictional work, secondments or using any additional language skills, then a firm with offices in many jurisdictions could be for you.”



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