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    I posted on the training contract forum and received a couple of PMs. I thought it might be worth me posting here to give a brief summary in case it was of interest to anyone else.

    I signed a training contract a few weeks ago at the firm I most wanted to join. I used this site quite a lot in my preparation and from a karma point of view wanted to try and contribute what I have learned, if anything, from the process.

    Caveats first:

    - Clearly there is no single version of the truth and there will always be exceptions that prove a rule.
    - I have no particular insight beyond having recently gone through the process and been successful.
    - I'm sure that many of my points are blindingly obvious to some people. However, there will have been a stage when you would not have found them so obvious.
    - My experience relates to TCs at large city firms.

    So, my ten pence on getting the training contract that you want:

    Not standing out + standing out + luck = TC

    1. The first hurdle is to ensure that you do not rule yourself out by standing out in a bad way. This means coming up to the minimum standard in a few different areas:

    a. Academics - 2:1 and AAB minimum.

    b. Work experience - You must have some legal work experience, although not necessarily a formal vac scheme.

    c. What you do - I am not a fan of the term 'extra curriculars' as to me it puts a very soulless slant on what you do in your spare time. This is about showing that you are a rounded, developed person who will fit in well at the firm. From my reasoning, law firms like to see evidence of hobbies etc for three main reasons:

    i. Peacock's tail. From my vague grasp of evolutionary biology I understand that the function of a peacock's tail is to demonstrate quite how good the peacock's genes are. The beautiful intricacy doesn't actually help the peacock run faster, catch more food or, indeed, fly. It is a statement that says 'my genes are so great that I can survive whilst producing this enormously costly non-essential wonder'. In the same way, difficult and time consuming activities maintained concurrently to your studies demonstrates that you have the capacity to do more than just study.

    ii. Stuck on a plane. The people interviewing you will have to spend time with you. If you have no interests outside of law I would suggest that this doesn't shout 'I will be really fun on a 9 hour flight'.

    iii. Transferable skills. This is sometimes overstated but is still very much worth communicating to your target firms. For example, state how your marathon running has taught you discipline and resilience. However, pushing this principle too far becomes a little awkward. Perhaps your summer busking as a mime artist is interesting of itself and you don't have to crowbar it into being the perfect foundation for M&A.

    d. Commercial Awareness - I know that this is something of a nebulous concept but you must be able to get a bit of a grip on it. It is not about memorising facts from the FT but rather grasping the function of a law firm and what they are trying to deliver for clients. A sign that people haven't fully grasped it is when they overestimate the value for continuing academic development (llm, Phd etc) or place too great an importance on pro bono activity. I am not saying that these are not valuable activities, rather that one should be wary of how a corporate law firm could perceive a candidate who put too much emphasis on them.

    2. The second hurdle is to stand out from the other people who have also met the minimum standard. In the current market there will be a surplus of candidates who have hit the standard in all of the above areas. This is where you will need to be realistic and self-aware. As stated above, the standards given are the minimum ones. In order to stand the best chance of getting a TC you need to exceed them. If your grades are off the minimum standard you must either make them better or improve elsewhere. Clearly, by definition, this bit of the equation cannot be easy - if it were no-one would stand out. Work out what you can do that will make you look different to the others. It is too easy at this point to say that a lack of contacts makes this undoable. Assuming that you are of adult age, there really is no reason why you cannot have developed your own network. Reach out to it and find a way to get some unusual experiences.

    From a personal perspective, I gained some unusual and interesting work experience by getting in touch with a friend of a friend. I had a couple of knock back whilst looking for this, which is never nice. However, if it was easy, everyone would do it.

    The self-awareness bit comes in when looking at your application and being able to tell if there is anything a bit different there. It will not help if you kid yourself that a gap year or a minor role in a university society makes you stand out.

    3. Luck. Any time is a good time for Kipling and this is about treating those two impostors just the same. There are many, many good candidates out there and good fortune will play a role in how long it takes you to get your TC. For me it is a question of hitting that happy medium between being resilient and determined and, to put it bluntly, flogging a dead horse. Be honest with yourself, can you hit 1a, 1b, 1c, 1d and 2? If so, great, keep going and you will find a home, albeit after a slog if you are unlucky. If not, you either need to rectify your weaknesses or consider another career. There are innumerable valuable, respected and rewarding careers out there - don't allow a career in law to assume more importance than it should.

    I hope that this might be of some use to people. If you have any further questions, do send me a PM or post on here.

    Good luck!
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    What a rational and kind post. Good man.
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    Interesting. Realistically what chance do you think a person has in securing a TC with a 2.2 ?
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    Good post about realistic prospects for a training contract.

    This is why so many Universities I feel are mugging off students by allowing them to take Law at their University with A-Levels lower than AAB and at a University that doesn't hold any prestige at all.

    It's fooling students and raising their expectations of gaining a TC when in reality; they won't be eligible for many of the schemes due to their University's reputation compared to other grads and their A-Level results.

    If you want to do Law then go to a Excellent/Good University otherwise your wasting your time; their will always be exceptions who strike lucky but this post is spot on.

    Matt - What University did you study at If you mind telling us?
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    for a large city firm without a masters? Zilch im afraid. But there will still be opportunities at smaller regional firms! Its also important where the 2.2 is from.
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    (Original post by Rosewal)
    Interesting. Realistically what chance do you think a person has in securing a TC with a 2.2 ?
    For a large City firm, very little chance. I am sure there are examples of people who have got a TC elsewhere with a 2:2 but there will not be many of these in the current market.
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    (Original post by Barry2011)
    Good post about realistic prospects for a training contract.

    This is why so many Universities I feel are mugging off students by allowing them to take Law at their University with A-Levels lower than AAB and at a University that doesn't hold any prestige at all.

    It's fooling students and raising their expectations of gaining a TC when in reality; they won't be eligible for many of the schemes due to their University's reputation compared to other grads and their A-Level results.

    If you want to do Law then go to a Excellent/Good University otherwise your wasting your time; their will always be exceptions who strike lucky but this post is spot on.

    Matt - What University did you study at If you mind telling us?
    I agree regarding the unfair raising of expectations. There is an entire industry founded on making money from people who are very unlikely to achieve what they hope to.

    I went to a one of the less prestigious Russell Group universities.
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    (Original post by Matt Tracker)
    I agree regarding the unfair raising of expectations. There is an entire industry founded on making money from people who are very unlikely to achieve what they hope to.

    I went to a one of the less prestigious Russell Group universities.
    I agree, but in any case, it is better to have not so good A-levels and a 1st class degree, than have AAA and a 2:2, I think.

    The situation is worse when it comes to private providers. How can anyone, for example, be allowed to spend, £20,000 on the BPTC having a 2:2 is beyond me!!


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    Absolutely spot on.
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    I wouldn't prevent less prestigious universities the right to offer law or dictate to them the minimum grade standards for the simple fact that the majority of LLB graduates do not choose to train as a solicitor or barrister when they graduate. There are lots of other careers that an LLB is good for such as accountancy, company secretariat, compliance, civil service etc. Also, it is a qualification path for Chartered Legal Executives who want to get a degree first and they may well eventually become solicitors. Also, students going to less prestigious universities do win training contracts anyway; many of them simply chose to study at the closest university (or the OU) for cost reasons or convenience (e.g. mature students doing distance learning).

    However. Vocational training for lawyers in England and Wales (and I include the GDL in this) is a disgrace. It is not particularly difficult to get onto a GDL course with a 2:2 degree in a poorly regarded subject and terrible A-Levels because the schools that offer them will more than happily pocket your fees. This only gets worse when it comes to the LPC. No one should be allowed to do the LPC without a training contract already lined up, or the schools themselves should take the financial risk (no training contract, no fee). The law schools might squeal about that one but it's only the same financial risk that they let their students take on.

    As for the BPTC. The whole bar council need a slap to be perfectly honest. For an institution that claims it wants to open up entry to students from disadvantaged backgrounds, does it strike anyone else as odd that to even apply for a pupillage you generally need to have the BPTC first to be taken seriously? So, in other words, you need to take on £20,000 of debt as a stab in the dark. Worse, it's a qualification that is not particularly transferable. And yet.... still no A-Level requirements and they'll take anyone with a 2:2 in any subject under the sun!

    It's fairly clear that if you want to have a lucrative career in the law, you shouldn't become a lawyer, you should open a degree mill.
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    (Original post by Barry2011)
    This is why so many Universities I feel are mugging off students by allowing them to take Law at their University with A-Levels lower than AAB and at a University that doesn't hold any prestige at all.

    It's fooling students and raising their expectations of gaining a TC when in reality; they won't be eligible for many of the schemes due to their University's reputation compared to other grads and their A-Level results.
    Universities aren't only interested in attracting people who want to go into law as a career. A degree is done for the academic pursuit in itself - so they aren't "mugging off" anyone.

    The real problem is unrealistic applicants.
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    Thanks for posting!

    Can you say how many assessment centres (or IVs) you got to before you hit the jackpot? I am just wondering how much what you learned at the assessment centres played a part in getting your TC.

    Congrats!


    [QUOTE=Matt Tracker;48701097]I posted on the training contract forum and received a couple of PMs. I thought it might be worth me posting here to give a brief summary in case it was of interest to anyone else.
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    [QUOTE=ragandbone;48761091]Thanks for posting!

    Can you say how many assessment centres (or IVs) you got to before you hit the jackpot? I am just wondering how much what you learned at the assessment centres played a part in getting your TC.

    Congrats!

    Thanks!

    It was my first law interview but I have had a few intervies in the past for other jobs. I'm sure that the things I had learnt from the other interview processes helped me be more on top of things and appear more confident.
 
 
 
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