We are pleased to welcome Joseph Morris, COO of Grad Diary who we met recently on Twitter – very interesting site and worth all law students looking for a traineeship to pay a visit. Joseph’s guest post is below which outlines some tips and some of the harsh realities about what it takes to obtain a training contract in the UK. Any further tips welcome in the comments below.
We all know how challenging and competitive the legal industry is, much like every other industry seems to be at the moment. Everyone is looking to take the next step up the career ladder after graduation in his or her journey to becoming a professional in the legal industry. What we aim to look at is the ways in which those looking for a Training Contract can do more to improve their chances of getting that all important first role.
For those students who think that the graduate job hunt starts in the final year when taking on those tedious and long applications, we hate to break it to you, it doesn’t. With the legal industry becoming more and more competitive, especially with the increasing popularity of the LPC and GDL it is more important than ever to start thinking about your career well before the final stages of your university education.
You have to be prepared to think outside the box in order to build up a CV that will out to an employer. Beyond the standard procedure of seeking relevant work experience and attaining consistently good grades in your degree there is so much more that students can do to make themselves appear more employable. The attitude taken by some students is to focus solely on work experience in the legal industry, don’t make this assumption, as it will leave you restricted in terms of available opportunities. The key thing to consider is that there are a vast number of business areas and industries from which you can obtain transferable skills that will make you a more appealing candidate. For example, if you attended work experience of internships in the banking industry then the analytical and corporate aspects of your experience might help you to prepare for a career in law. In addition these sorts of experiences can be a good conversation topic in interviews, as you can explain not only what you learnt, but also what from the experience made you want to select a legal pathway. It can be a valuable asset to show a recruiter that you have considered other career paths before deciding that you would like to work for them, it shows maturity.
With legal applications, and particularly for interviews it is essential that you know enough about a firm as well as information about the industry in general. Now it is obvious that if you apply to all the firms you possibly can and hope for the best it is extremely unlikely you will be able to invest enough time in to researching the firms. Companies want to know why you want to work for THEM, not just why you would like to work in the legal industry. This is why it is important to judge for yourself which companies most suit you, so you can focus your research on those firms. Recruiters read through hundreds of applications so it is important to try and find something in the news that will make them realise you have spent sufficient time considering their opportunities.
All in all, whether you are from a law or non-law background it is absolutely essential that you look to build up your CV and professional network as early as possible. The phrase ‘Early bird gets the worm’ is something that is extremely relevant when it comes to describing the graduate job hunt. Make sure you utilise blog sites, career tools, social networks such as LinkedIn and networking opportunities to help yourself to become a better-informed candidate as any edge can be invaluable in an industry where training contracts are becoming more and more competitive.