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Training Contract without a Vac scheme or any legal work experience watch

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    Hello all,
    I am heading into my third year at Oxford Brookes University and I am interested in Corporate law. My aim is to secure a training contract at a city firm, however looking over my CV I have realised I maybe fall short in several areas. Unfortunately I did not secure a vacation scheme this summer, which in most instances leads to a training contract at the same firm. This I believe is the major omission from my CV, further to this I have no form of legal experience whether it be informal or formal. I have tried to amend this however I have been unsuccessful each time. In October training contract applications open and I was wondering whether my lack of legal work experience and my failure to secure a vacation scheme, will greatly hinder my chances of securing a training contract. In addition I was wondering whether anyone has any suggestions on how I can fill those gaping holes in my CV, and also persuade city law firms that I have a genuine interest in corporate law

    Some background information on me is I have 320 UCAS points (ABB). I achieved 55% average (2:2) in my first year, before improving this in my second year by achieving a 66% average (2:1). If you require more information I may provide such.

    Sorry for the long post, all views will be greatly appreciated.
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    (Original post by yomi91)
    Hello all,
    I am heading into my third year at Oxford Brookes University and I am interested in Corporate law. My aim is to secure a training contract at a city firm, however looking over my CV I have realised I maybe fall short in several areas. Unfortunately I did not secure a vacation scheme this summer, which in most instances leads to a training contract at the same firm. This I believe is the major omission from my CV, further to this I have no form of legal experience whether it be informal or formal. I have tried to amend this however I have been unsuccessful each time. In October training contract applications open and I was wondering whether my lack of legal work experience and my failure to secure a vacation scheme, will greatly hinder my chances of securing a training contract. In addition I was wondering whether anyone has any suggestions on how I can fill those gaping holes in my CV, and also persuade city law firms that I have a genuine interest in corporate law

    Some background information on me is I have 320 UCAS points (ABB). I achieved 55% average (2:2) in my first year, before improving this in my second year by achieving a 66% average (2:1). If you require more information I may provide such.

    Sorry for the long post, all views will be greatly appreciated.
    There is no doubt that having some sort of formal legal work experience is of great help when trying to secure a training contract. However, they are very hard to get, arguably harder than a training contract, therefore I wouldn't worry too much about this but instead look to do other extra curricula's that would help to evidence the skills required to be a commercial solicitor e.g. do negotiating or debating, possibly volunteering at the citizen's advice bureau etc.

    Also other work experience e.g. working in retail etc is very useful in evidencing transferable skills which are required as a trainee, so don't be afraid or ashamed to mention any jobs you have had, whether that be working in a local fast food restaurant or shop.

    In respect of your academics, City law firms are extremely competitive with many applicants having all A*s/As at A level and First Class degrees, therefore you may find that applying to firms out of the City may be a more realistic alternative, or at least mix regional firm applications with City applications. This is just a suggestion and ultimately it is up to you, but I would personally be wary of putting all your eggs in one very precarious basket. Also be ready to provide reasons why you averaged a 2:2 in your first year....even though I graduated with a First I was still asked to justify my average of a 2:2 in my first year in one of my vac scheme interviews. If you can think of a suitable reason, then in fact it can aid your application as it shows your ability to analyse problems and provide solutions and act on those to improve situations.
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    (Original post by jacob7191)
    There is no doubt that having some sort of formal legal work experience is of great help when trying to secure a training contract. However, they are very hard to get, arguably harder than a training contract, therefore I wouldn't worry too much about this but instead look to do other extra curricula's that would help to evidence the skills required to be a commercial solicitor e.g. do negotiating or debating, possibly volunteering at the citizen's advice bureau etc.

    Also other work experience e.g. working in retail etc is very useful in evidencing transferable skills which are required as a trainee, so don't be afraid or ashamed to mention any jobs you have had, whether that be working in a local fast food restaurant or shop.

    In respect of your academics, City law firms are extremely competitive with many applicants having all A*s/As at A level and First Class degrees, therefore you may find that applying to firms out of the City may be a more realistic alternative, or at least mix regional firm applications with City applications. This is just a suggestion and ultimately it is up to you, but I would personally be wary of putting all your eggs in one very precarious basket. Also be ready to provide reasons why you averaged a 2:2 in your first year....even though I graduated with a First I was still asked to justify my average of a 2:2 in my first year in one of my vac scheme interviews. If you can think of a suitable reason, then in fact it can aid your application as it shows your ability to analyse problems and provide solutions and act on those to improve situations.
    Thank you very much for your reply Jacob, certainly I will join the client interviewing team at my university this year and will make an attempt to improve my extra curriculars. I wanted to know when you say regional firms are you speaking of those firms which have offices outside of London, and if I were to apply for firms in the city which would you suggest or what criteria should I take into consideration.

    Thanks
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    I agree with jacob7191, city firms are notoriously hung up on academic performance and very competitive so its probably not a good idea to apply to these.

    Try small and regional firms to start with (you can always progress to city law after you've had a few years experience) as these tend to have less applicants and be a bit more friendly. As for legal work experience - go and watch a court case for a few weeks, this is free to do and most courts are open to the public so this well help show you are interested in city law.

    Also try and get involved in debating or maybe writing for a university newspaper, or start up a blog where you can write a commentary on current corporate law happenings? Being as member of various committee's helps too - you could show you were organised and good at managing lots of things at once.
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    (Original post by Cassie218)
    I agree with jacob7191, city firms are notoriously hung up on academic performance and very competitive so its probably not a good idea to apply to these.

    Try small and regional firms to start with (you can always progress to city law after you've had a few years experience) as these tend to have less applicants and be a bit more friendly. As for legal work experience - go and watch a court case for a few weeks, this is free to do and most courts are open to the public so this well help show you are interested in city law.

    Also try and get involved in debating or maybe writing for a university newspaper, or start up a blog where you can write a commentary on current corporate law happenings? Being as member of various committee's helps too - you could show you were organised and good at managing lots of things at once.
    The blog is a great idea mate, thank you very much. Also what is a regional firm?
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    (Original post by yomi91)
    The blog is a great idea mate, thank you very much. Also what is a regional firm?
    If you're going to do a blog or write a commentary make sure you spell check it and get someone else to read it over first - if you're going to mention it on your CV they may read it but be put off you've made easy mistakes!

    A Regional firm is a firm not based in London.
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    (Original post by yomi91)
    Thank you very much for your reply Jacob, certainly I will join the client interviewing team at my university this year and will make an attempt to improve my extra curriculars. I wanted to know when you say regional firms are you speaking of those firms which have offices outside of London, and if I were to apply for firms in the city which would you suggest or what criteria should I take into consideration.

    Thanks
    Sorry when I said regional firms I meant one that is either entirely located out of London, or alternatively apply to firms that have regional offices, as well as a London office, such as DLA Piper, AG etc. The benefit of the latter is that it may be easier to make the transition to the City at a later date, given the option of qualifying into their London office.
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    (Original post by jacob7191)
    Sorry when I said regional firms I meant one that is either entirely located out of London, or alternatively apply to firms that have regional offices, as well as a London office, such as DLA Piper, AG etc. The benefit of the latter is that it may be easier to make the transition to the City at a later date, given the option of qualifying into their London office.
    Thank you very much, in your opinion how many training contract applications should one roughly apply for.
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    Please don't apply to regional firms just because you think your grades aren't good enough for City firms. That would be a very bad idea. The whole culture and working environment of regional firms are different to City firms. That's generally why you get questions on applications like "What makes you think you're a City lawyer / Why do you want to be a City lawyer" and in comparions questions like "What are your links to this region".

    I would suggest to you OP that you research exactly what area of law you want to work in, go to a range of Open Days with both City and Regional firms and really get a feel of the differences between such firms. Then make up your mind where you want to apply. Also, applying to firms with regional offices and hoping to transition is also not a good idea either. As I was told by one US firm "Don't apply to the London office if you want to transfer over to the States." That may not be a direct comparison but the principle is the same. If you think about it, the London office of a regional firm will be taking in trainees that will qualify into that office, it will be unlikely that they'll save space for those that want to transfer to other offices. Therefore, it is very important that you research and know you'll be happy in both City and Regional law firms if you are applying to both!

    With regards to city law firms, I can only encourage you to NOT be put off by the A-Level requirements. You are on track for a 2:1, yes you got a 2:2 in 1st year but you've pulled it up in 2nd year. Equally, an ABB will not stop you from applying to top firms. If you have the urge that you really want to apply to MC firms or US firms, look at how flexible they are with their academic requirements (is it "You must get AAA/B or we won't even look at your application" or is it not that blunt on their website?) and just apply. If you have good extra-currics and interesting things you've done then apply and you may be surprised at what you can achieve!

    EDIT: I just realised that I hadn't answered your original question. If you are doing a law degree, then your lack of vac schemes will be more obvious to HR. This is because generally all law students looking to go into law will have applied in their 2nd year. But if you're going into your 3rd year, then I would say apply for a mixture of vac schemes and TCs - that would be your best bet.

    Vac schemes are still important and as someone still at uni, your chances will be greater at getting them now. In my experience, it is much harder to get them once you're out of uni / studying phase. Also my experiences are that the only people I know who have got straight TCs without any vac scheme experiences were people who graduated from Cambridge and even one of them had some sort of informal work experience. However, none of them did law degrees.

    So apply for both vac schemes and TCs in this round of applications!
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    (Original post by h-g-1)
    Please don't apply to regional firms just because you think your grades aren't good enough for City firms. That would be a very bad idea. The whole culture and working environment of regional firms are different to City firms. That's generally why you get questions on applications like "What makes you think you're a City lawyer / Why do you want to be a City lawyer" and in comparions questions like "What are your links to this region".

    I would suggest to you OP that you research exactly what area of law you want to work in, go to a range of Open Days with both City and Regional firms and really get a feel of the differences between such firms. Then make up your mind where you want to apply. Also, applying to firms with regional offices and hoping to transition is also not a good idea either. As I was told by one US firm "Don't apply to the London office if you want to transfer over to the States." That may not be a direct comparison but the principle is the same. If you think about it, the London office of a regional firm will be taking in trainees that will qualify into that office, it will be unlikely that they'll save space for those that want to transfer to other offices. Therefore, it is very important that you research and know you'll be happy in both City and Regional law firms if you are applying to both!

    With regards to city law firms, I can only encourage you to NOT be put off by the A-Level requirements. You are on track for a 2:1, yes you got a 2:2 in 1st year but you've pulled it up in 2nd year. Equally, an ABB will not stop you from applying to top firms. If you have the urge that you really want to apply to MC firms or US firms, look at how flexible they are with their academic requirements (is it "You must get AAA/B or we won't even look at your application" or is it not that blunt on their website?) and just apply. If you have good extra-currics and interesting things you've done then apply and you may be surprised at what you can achieve!

    EDIT: I just realised that I hadn't answered your original question. If you are doing a law degree, then your lack of vac schemes will be more obvious to HR. This is because generally all law students looking to go into law will have applied in their 2nd year. But if you're going into your 3rd year, then I would say apply for a mixture of vac schemes and TCs - that would be your best bet.

    Vac schemes are still important and as someone still at uni, your chances will be greater at getting them now. In my experience, it is much harder to get them once you're out of uni / studying phase. Also my experiences are that the only people I know who have got straight TCs without any vac scheme experiences were people who graduated from Cambridge and even one of them had some sort of informal work experience. However, none of them did law degrees.

    So apply for both vac schemes and TCs in this round of applications!
    Thank you very much for your insightful post, you have surely motivated me. I believe I will apply for Vac Schemes through the SEO scheme. I was wondering in your opinion, how many TC apps would you send off?
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    (Original post by h-g-1)
    Please don't apply to regional firms just because you think your grades aren't good enough for City firms. That would be a very bad idea. The whole culture and working environment of regional firms are different to City firms. That's generally why you get questions on applications like "What makes you think you're a City lawyer / Why do you want to be a City lawyer" and in comparions questions like "What are your links to this region".

    I would suggest to you OP that you research exactly what area of law you want to work in, go to a range of Open Days with both City and Regional firms and really get a feel of the differences between such firms. Then make up your mind where you want to apply. Also, applying to firms with regional offices and hoping to transition is also not a good idea either. As I was told by one US firm "Don't apply to the London office if you want to transfer over to the States." That may not be a direct comparison but the principle is the same. If you think about it, the London office of a regional firm will be taking in trainees that will qualify into that office, it will be unlikely that they'll save space for those that want to transfer to other offices. Therefore, it is very important that you research and know you'll be happy in both City and Regional law firms if you are applying to both!

    With regards to city law firms, I can only encourage you to NOT be put off by the A-Level requirements. You are on track for a 2:1, yes you got a 2:2 in 1st year but you've pulled it up in 2nd year. Equally, an ABB will not stop you from applying to top firms. If you have the urge that you really want to apply to MC firms or US firms, look at how flexible they are with their academic requirements (is it "You must get AAA/B or we won't even look at your application" or is it not that blunt on their website?) and just apply. If you have good extra-currics and interesting things you've done then apply and you may be surprised at what you can achieve!

    EDIT: I just realised that I hadn't answered your original question. If you are doing a law degree, then your lack of vac schemes will be more obvious to HR. This is because generally all law students looking to go into law will have applied in their 2nd year. But if you're going into your 3rd year, then I would say apply for a mixture of vac schemes and TCs - that would be your best bet.

    Vac schemes are still important and as someone still at uni, your chances will be greater at getting them now. In my experience, it is much harder to get them once you're out of uni / studying phase. Also my experiences are that the only people I know who have got straight TCs without any vac scheme experiences were people who graduated from Cambridge and even one of them had some sort of informal work experience. However, none of them did law degrees.

    So apply for both vac schemes and TCs in this round of applications!
    Yes, applying to regional firms purely because your grades are not good enough for a City firm is not recommended but it is equally as bad to apply to City firms when you don't have the academic record that they expect. If you look at all the MC firms their requirements are 2 A's and a B...before you are allowed to complete their application you have to answer if you have these grades, if you don't you are not able to continue. Additionally, the comparison between cross jurisdictional transfer and transfer between City and regional offices is an extremely poor one. During my vac scheme one of the trainee mentors was in fact qualifying into the London office having done his TC at the Manchester office, so your comment on this is unfounded. It is not useful to give naive advice on such a serious question about an important process.
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    (Original post by jacob7191)
    Yes, applying to regional firms purely because your grades are not good enough for a City firm is not recommended but it is equally as bad to apply to City firms when you don't have the academic record that they expect. If you look at all the MC firms their requirements are 2 A's and a B...before you are allowed to complete their application you have to answer if you have these grades, if you don't you are not able to continue. Additionally, the comparison between cross jurisdictional transfer and transfer between City and regional offices is an extremely poor one. During my vac scheme one of the trainee mentors was in fact qualifying into the London office having done his TC at the Manchester office, so your comment on this is unfounded. It is not useful to give naive advice on such a serious question about an important process.
    That said, I think she still has a point. OP wants to work in a City law firm, not necessarily a Magic Circle firm, so there is a little latitude with A-level grade requirements. Simply put, not all City firms use an AAB filter. Secondly, getting a 2:2 in the first year is by no means a hindrance to OP if he ends up with a high 2:1 and can justify his first year grades, granted that there were extenuating circumstances that led to them.
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    (Original post by yomi91)
    Thank you very much for your insightful post, you have surely motivated me. I believe I will apply for Vac Schemes through the SEO scheme. I was wondering in your opinion, how many TC apps would you send off?
    I sent off loads when I started - just wildly applying and got me nowhere. I would say how many depends on how many firms you want to work for. Do your research into a couple and then send off applications which are well-researched and well-answered. That's much better than trying to do as many as possible badly.

    I never managed to get out more than 15 but there were people who did 20+ and more still. It is a numbers game but make sure you spend a good amount of time on the ones you're really interested in.

    And of course, at the end of the day, it only takes one.
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    (Original post by jacob7191)
    Yes, applying to regional firms purely because your grades are not good enough for a City firm is not recommended but it is equally as bad to apply to City firms when you don't have the academic record that they expect. If you look at all the MC firms their requirements are 2 A's and a B...before you are allowed to complete their application you have to answer if you have these grades, if you don't you are not able to continue. Additionally, the comparison between cross jurisdictional transfer and transfer between City and regional offices is an extremely poor one. During my vac scheme one of the trainee mentors was in fact qualifying into the London office having done his TC at the Manchester office, so your comment on this is unfounded. It is not useful to give naive advice on such a serious question about an important process.
    Thank you for your input but my advice is not naive. I got an ABB at A-Level and now I have a TC at an MC firm. I was myself put off applying to such firms because of the fact that I thought my grades wouldn't cut it. My input was simply that the OP said city law firms were their aim and of course there are a range but I wanted to say that if they wanted to aim that high, they should be able to do it depending on using their common sense of course!

    With regards to my comparison, I already said it was the principle I was comparing. When you apply to regional firms / offices, they specifically ask you why you want to go to their region. This is used to ensure that you aren't just trying to qualify there so you can transfer down to London ASAP. Just because you are aware of one individual that has done this transfer does not make my comment unfounded either.

    What's naive is thinking telling someone whose looking at city law firms to try their hand at regional ones without even hinting that there is a difference between city and regional firms.
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    (Original post by h-g-1)
    Thank you for your input but my advice is not naive. I got an ABB at A-Level and now I have a TC at an MC firm. I was myself put off applying to such firms because of the fact that I thought my grades wouldn't cut it. My input was simply that the OP said city law firms were their aim and of course there are a range but I wanted to say that if they wanted to aim that high, they should be able to do it depending on using their common sense of course!

    With regards to my comparison, I already said it was the principle I was comparing. When you apply to regional firms / offices, they specifically ask you why you want to go to their region. This is used to ensure that you aren't just trying to qualify there so you can transfer down to London ASAP. Just because you are aware of one individual that has done this transfer does not make my comment unfounded either.

    What's naive is thinking telling someone whose looking at city law firms to try their hand at regional ones without even hinting that there is a difference between city and regional firms.
    Firstly, apologises for the naive comment and secondly congrats on the TC. In respect of the academic requirements for City firms, they are notoriously more stringent, so my advice was to "not put all your eggs in one precarious basket" which you have pretty much affirmed by telling the OP that it is a numbers game! I also provided the caveat of mixing regional with City applications, which I don't think is necessarily a bad thing as researching different commercial firms improves your understanding of the sector as a whole. Also, I don't know your specific circumstances but I don't think it is the norm for MC firms to waive the first requirement of 2 A's and a B without a compelling reason, so to advise the OP that they are relaxed about the academic requirements is a tad misleading. I didn't intend my comment about transfer to the London office to be perceived as a backdoor way into the City, I was just providing guidance that where you do your TC doesn't necessarily have to be the place you will be practising in. The principle is not the same as it is fundamentally a different jurisdiction. Finally, there is a difference between regional and City firms and the OP would have realised this upon further research into their different options. Additionally, the magnitude of this difference depends on the firm(s) in question, so blanket statements on this issue I don't believe to be of great help as it is very dependent on the firms which the OP intends to apply to.
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    (Original post by jacob7191)
    I also provided the caveat of mixing regional with City applications, which I don't think is necessarily a bad thing as researching different commercial firms improves your understanding of the sector as a whole.

    Also, I don't know your specific circumstances but I don't think it is the norm for MC firms to waive the first requirement of 2 A's and a B without a compelling reason, so to advise the OP that they are relaxed about the academic requirements is a tad misleading.

    I didn't intend my comment about transfer to the London office to be perceived as a backdoor way into the City, I was just providing guidance that where you do your TC doesn't necessarily have to be the place you will be practising in.
    I agree - if OP researches and realises he wants to apply to regionals too then mixtures are good.

    No, it is not the norm but the only thing different about me was that I had a really interesting job which was different and gave me that commercial awareness I was probably lacking. Either way, my statement should in no way be construed that they are relaxed but that some may be willing to overlook the AAA/B filter.

    And yes, I agree with that statement too. It is of course possible but OP should not rely on it as a back door to the City.

    It's always much nicer to agree isn't it?
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    (Original post by h-g-1)
    I agree - if OP researches and realises he wants to apply to regionals too then mixtures are good.

    No, it is not the norm but the only thing different about me was that I had a really interesting job which was different and gave me that commercial awareness I was probably lacking. Either way, my statement should in no way be construed that they are relaxed but that some may be willing to overlook the AAA/B filter.

    And yes, I agree with that statement too. It is of course possible but OP should not rely on it as a back door to the City.

    It's always much nicer to agree isn't it?
    agreed
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    (Original post by h-g-1)
    I agree - if OP researches and realises he wants to apply to regionals too then mixtures are good.

    No, it is not the norm but the only thing different about me was that I had a really interesting job which was different and gave me that commercial awareness I was probably lacking. Either way, my statement should in no way be construed that they are relaxed but that some may be willing to overlook the AAA/B filter.

    And yes, I agree with that statement too. It is of course possible but OP should not rely on it as a back door to the City.

    It's always much nicer to agree isn't it?
    Thank you vey much h-g-1 and Jacob for your posts you have helped me out greatly, by the way I do recognise the difference between a regional firm and a city firm I have done research. H-g-1 may I ask what interesting job you did to attain commercial awareness
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    (Original post by Cassie218)
    As for legal work experience - go and watch a court case for a few weeks, this is free to do and most courts are open to the public so this well help show you are interested in city law.
    How can you show evidence of this formally on a CV or application form? Just slightly confused
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    (Original post by AuburnGem)
    How can you show evidence of this formally on a CV or application form? Just slightly confused
    Hmmm, I don't think this necessarily shows work experience. What it will help is maybe your feel for law and how it works practically. Equally, it could demonstrate an interest in litigation or other contentious areas of law. I once sat through a defamation case - well, not the entire thing but it was certainly interesting as I was studying Media Law at the time and had been learning about the difficulties of proving defamation.

    Basically good for a wider understanding and/or interest which you can say in interviews and in answering certain "why law" questions. But not something you can write down as formal legal work experience.
 
 
 
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