The LawCareers.Net Handbook 2021

Application technique

Equally, as another recruiter tells us, don’t be the applicant who admitted at an interview with one City firm that “she couldn’t remember applying to us – we were not impressed!” Keep a handle on which firms you apply to. Timing Many firms and chambers fill their training places two years in advance. For law students, this means applying during the summer vacation between the second and third year of your law degree. Non- law students should apply before starting the GDL. While budding solicitors should apply directly to firms for training contracts, the recruitment process for the Bar is different. Many applications must be made through the centralised online pupillage application system, the Pupillage Gateway (www., while other chambers advertise pupillages on the Gateway but require you to apply direct. See “Training as a barrister” on p110 for more information. Some smaller organisations accept applications just one year in advance. If you have left your application late or were unsuccessful in your first round of applications, check the jobs board on LawCareers.Net for the latest vacancies. Many recruiters mention the importance of applying well before the official deadline: first, so you don’t have to rush to get the application done; second, because the most popular firms may well fill their quota of trainees before the deadline. Presentation An application may be the first contact that you have with prospective employers. Make a good impression by convincing them that you have the necessary skills, experience, qualifications and enthusiasm for the job in question.

By the time you start writing an application, you should have thoroughly researched the profession and know where it is that you want to apply. Mention why you are attracted to the firm or chambers in question (ie, the specialisms and unique characteristics that stood out in your research after following our advice in the previous chapter), and how your skills and qualities match what they are looking for. Andrew Campbell, a barrister at Queen Elizabeth Building and heavily involved with the chambers pupillage committee, explains: “An application form is in many ways a form of written advocacy. The case the candidate is presenting is why they should be offered a pupillage or mini-pupillage. Every question must be seen as an opportunity to impress, rather than a hurdle to overcome. The best answers will be like any good argument in court and will support the case with strong evidence.” Keep your applications to a manageable number. Ten well-researched applications will serve you far better than 40 copy-and- pasted efforts. What’s in a name? Firms and chambers take offence when you get their name wrong - just as you wouldn’t want to receive a training contract offer intended for someone else. One graduate recruitment partner at a regional firm recalls a student who “sent an application and covering letter for a training contract stating that ‘I would love to work at Withers.’ Wrong firm!” Don’t make this amateurish mistake. And don’t take it upon yourself to change the name of the firm by shortening it – Caroline Lindner, global communications and engagement senior manager and former trainee recruitment manager at Norton Rose Fulbright, says: “Along with spelling and grammatical errors, abbreviating the name of the firm should be avoided at all costs.”



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