How to secure a training contract

With training contracts usually starting in September, many applicants start their research months before. However, with some contracts being delayed due to COVID-19, there is still time to secure an opportunity and get started on the Professional Skills Course (PSC) before it’s too late!  Another reason to act now is the introduction of the new Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE) in Autumn 2021, which will change how training contracts and the existing routes to qualification are delivered. So, if you’re thinking about a career in the legal industry and want to secure a training contract with a firm, get ahead with our top tips on how to succeed.

Five ways to get ahead…

1. Start your preparation early

Getting a training contract can be fiercely competitive and you could easily find yourself competing with people who started their research two or even three years earlier. As well as leaving enough time to draft the actual application itself and get input from others, your preparations should start well before this. A key part of preparing is being clear on what type of firm you want to work for, what area of law you want to specialise in and where you want to be located. This way you can be targeted in your applications and ensure you come across clearly on where you want to be and what you hope to achieve, making sure you stand out.

2. Develop your wider skills

Having legal knowledge is a given when applying for a training contract, so having a wider skillset can help get you noticed. Jobs you’ve had at university or prior to thinking about a legal career are all worth mentioning as you’ll have gained valuable transferable skills. Undertaking a course with a specialist legal training company such as Altior is also a good investment, with things like Business Networking, Business Writing and Interpersonal skills also helping you with the application process itself.

3. Gain valuable work experience

Try to find the time to undertake some work experience. Paralegal work is a good way to experience life in a firm, not to mention to make connections. Also consider summer internships and getting involved at places like your local Citizens Advice Bureau to gain invaluable experience. Another idea is to try to get experience in the sector you are interested in specialising in, for example, working in the HR department of a large organisation if you’re interested in employment law.

4. Network, Network, Network

Many people find putting themselves out there nerve-wracking but it really does help to get yourself noticed! Look out for networking events hosted by local law firms and business organisations like the Chambers of Commerce and sign up to attend – most are free. Join your local Law Society and get involved in events and activities they are hosting in your area; they even have a Junior Lawyers division. Think about how you network online as well as offline. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date and that you have a professional photograph. LinkedIn can be an excellent place to research potential firms and engage with their social media posts, blogs and employee updates.

5. Know your target firm

Make sure you know your target firm(s), the clients they work with, their partners and their focus areas of expertise. Read recent news stories and social media posts about the firm and its competitors. It’s also good to be knowledgeable about current affairs and be able to discuss them confidently, however, make sure you keep it relevant. Brexit and COVID-19 might be the mainstay of the news agenda, however, think about what they mean for the firm you’re targeting. Read the broadsheets and be informed but have your own opinion and make it specific. For example, for a firm with a large pharmaceutical practice, what does leaving Europe mean for the supply of medicines across borders? It’s good to be targeted and know your stuff rather than cast the net too wide, but if you’re not achieving success don’t be afraid to revisit your parameters and consider other sectors or types of firms.

If you’d like to speak to our team about developing your wider skills or the PSC, get in touch today at: infoaltior@barbri.com

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