The month is upon us, and the top legal firms have now started recruiting for their Winter, Spring and Summer vacation schemes. This can be a worrying period for many as there are so many schemes one can apply for. In this piece, I am going to outline the whole process and hopefully make it all sound foolproof.
Step 1: Do your research
Click here to see a list of all present work placement schemes. You want to print this page off so you have a list of firms to start sorting through, this will come in handy later.
Next you need to think about what types of firms you are applying for. Luckily, LawCareers.net has a short description of each firm when you click the name. You need to look out for the a-level requirements. Most firms are AAB or equivelant (so around 340 UCAS points). Applications are often systematic, so you do not want to bother applying to a firm that is automatically going to throw you out. You might also want to consider the location; how far you are willing to commute? And what about the intake of trainees? After all the whole idea of the placement is so that you increase your chances of gaining a training contract.
Get your print out list and start ticking firms off, writing any relevant notes alongside. Think of any particular factors which might affect your application. For example, are they taking graduates or penultimates? Now once you get to the bottom of that list, you might feel a little swamped in the list of firms you have to research. My advice to you is to take advantage of the MyLC.N features. Create your account and use the “Add to MyLC.N”, this will help you organise your applications better when you start receiving responses.
Step 2: Do the research
Go into your MyLC.N firms and have a look at those you added to ‘Researching’. When you have a spare few hours, you need to start sorting through these firms by looking at them a little further in detail. You should be asking the following questions.
What areas of law do they specialise in?
What sets them out from other firms?
What type of trainee are they looking for?
These questions are going to help you prepare for your applications. But just remember, you will not find all the answers to your questions on the one ‘About Us’ page; you may be required to dig a little bit deeper.
Step 3: Start Applying
This step is easily one of the most complicated and focused step. Hopefully, you now have a list of around 6-10 firms you want to apply for, and you should have organised some notes that you made when you did your research. Unfortunately, this is not as easy as emailing in the same CV to different recruiters. The larger firms will be looking as far into you as they can, and most will even be asking for GCSE results. You need to get all your documents together ready for the data-entry aspect of this task. You need to be prepared to disclose any criminal convictions, any disabilities or extenuating circumstances which may set you back from others and you also need to have a CV that contains a list of module grades. But keep those grades to hand because you’ll also be asked to enter them into each firms system separately too!
Step 3.1: Cover Letters
This is the make or break part of the process. If you even managed to make it this far, you are going to need an excellent cover letter which really sells yourself to the firm. In your letter you want to spend a line or two introducing yourself to the recruiter.
On the second paragraph you need to explain why you want to work with that particular firm, whilst also considering the values and history of the firm. You need to show that you have read the ‘Who we are’ and ‘Our vision’ pages and that you share that same vision.
In the third paragraph, you should have a look at the type of people who already works there. Some firms have case studies of current trainees, they’re worth a read! You need to consider the type of work that is involved, and what skills you can bring to it.
Throughout this whole letter, you should not just be writing it to the graduate recruitment officer; you should be writing to yourself. If you can imagine yourself being the graduate recruitment officer for that firm, think of what YOU would expect from an applicant. If you simply cannot put yourself in that recruiters’ shoes, you have not done enough digging! Luckily, LawCareers offers a bio page about most of the recruiters from each firm, so make the most of that.
My last tips:
- Spelling, punctuation and grammar has to be on point or your application is instantly thrown out of the window.
- Do not use over the top words which make you look pompous, it’s not an application to BBC’s The Apprentice.
- Be clear, concise and persuasive with your argument.
- Use the word count, but not all of it. At least 95% of it.
- Get your employability officer, course leader, tutor at university to have a look over it. It is likely that they are or were once solicitors in your shoes.
- Have some resilience. You are going to be knocked back again and again by rejection, but remember that Rome was not built in a day!
Best of luck!
I know I am not the best source for information of this nature, as I too am currently applying for my work placement schemes. But, from what I have learnt so far from open days, placements and one-to-ones with tutors, the advice above appears to be the precise criteria expected. But of course if I missed anything, or you have any more suggestions, please comment below. Best of luck!