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Disillusioned and confused about securing a training contract watch

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    Hi everyone,

    I just wanted to see if anyone has some advice for me

    I have reached the end of this years training contract application stage and have received nothing.

    I have the following:

    a 2:1 from SOAS, graduated in 2014.

    Very good A Levels - A*AA

    Good work experience, although only one vac scheme at a top 20 firm, one open day at a top 10 firm

    a lot of minimum wage work experience (due to financial pressures) throughout university

    and since April a 9 to 5 office job

    but obviously my ambition is to get a training contract with a big commercial firm in London.

    For this years application cycle, I applied for around 20 firms and havent even got a single interview (I know what you're thinking, that I had a copy and paste approach and that I rushed the applications - but I assure you that this wasnt the case).

    I had only one interview, and that was with the firm that I did the vacation scheme - the interview I thought went well, it lasted for an hour and a half and was with a partner and the head of HR. However, after waiting for three weeks for an answer, I got an email saying that I was unsuccesful.

    At the moment I really do not know what to do, so I have a few questions that I would be really grateful if someone could answer:

    1. What am I doing wrong? Why didnt I get a single interview?

    2. Is there any point of going for these big commercial firms in London? Should I lower my ambitions?

    3. I graduated a year ago, should I just do the LPC now or as soon as possible whilst working?

    4. If I did the LPC and reapplied would that be a benefit? In the eyes of the firms do you gain any advantage by having already done the LPC?

    5. Are there any other ways to get in to these big commercial firms? What if I tried to get a paralegal job with one of them and then get a TC from there?

    Thanks in advance for all of your help, I would be really grateful for any advice
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    1) How strong was your 2.1? We need more information about your grade breakdown, how many 2.2s? What was your extra curricular like?/leadership roles? If both of these are strong, then the fact that you're not getting interviews has to be down to the way that you fill in your applications. There is an element of luck, but if you have a strong 2.1, good work experience/extras, you should have got a few interviews from 20 applications. Also, what type of firms were you targeting?

    2) Judging by the information that you've given, I don't see why not. A*AA and a 2.1 from SOAS is fairly standard. It all depends on what else you have on your applications. You need to share more information about your time at university and what you was involved in.

    3) It depends if you can afford to self-fund or not. You need to consider that most firms recruit two years in advance, meaning that if you self-fund the LPC, you may still have a two year wait before starting. If you're in a good job, relatively speaking, I would stick with that for now. You don't want to do the LPC, not get a TC, and be 10k down.

    4) No, unless you happen to find a firm which is urgently searching for trainees to start. Having the LPC would be helpful in those circumstances.

    5) You'd have to paralegal for a good few years, i'm not sure that you're at the stage yet when you should consider that.
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    (Original post by sabrina92)

    but obviously my ambition is to get a training contract with a big commercial firm in London.
    Why is that obvious?

    For how many years are you prepared to delay the start of your career in the hope of achieving this?

    There will be people who left university when you graduated who will be receiving partnership offers before you qualify.

    I am not saying you are making the wrong decision, but I not sure you are thinking that you have a choice at all.
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    1) it's very hard to say without seeing your application(s). It could easily be your motivation isn't clear or realistic enough, it could be your application isn't well written, it could be that they want to see more work experience or more extra curricular responsibility.

    2) why would it be lowering your expectations? Apart from a potentially lower salary, there can be many benefits not going to a large commercial firm in London.

    3) I don't think there is a right or wrong approach here - it's very much a personal decision that has to be weighed up against personal circumstances.

    4) Reapplying is not necessarily a good idea unless here has been a significant development on your CV. The LPC is rarely seen as a significant development on its own.

    5) You could try and secure paralegal work. However if the aim is to secure a TC with the firm, you need to check their approach to paralegals. Most firms have a significant number of paralegals and if they thought it was a good idea they could promote many paralegals to trainees. However, with the exception is some firms whose strategy is to do that, most big commercial firms will convert very few paralegals into trainees. When it does happen, they have to be exceptional paralegals with exposure to work that is similar to trainees. That in itself is often difficult, not necessarily down to the paralegal's performance (although that can often be a barrier too), but due to the nature of the work they receive always being the admin level work with very low levels of responsibility.


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    Hi MillieXYZ, thanks so much for your answer, it was very helpful. (This is the same person btw, just couldnt get into my old account )

    In response to your questions to me:

    1. My marks were slightly above average;

    Year 1 Legal Systems of Asia and Africa 71
    Introduction to Law and Legal Processes 67
    Criminal Law 67
    Contract Law 62

    Year 2 Tort Law 65
    Property Law 55
    Chinese Law 54
    Public Law 47

    Year 3 Government and Politics of the Middle East 69
    EU / European Human Rights 61
    Public International Law 63
    Equity 50

    2. In terms of what I was involved in at university, to be honest not a lot. I didn't really hold any positions of responsibility with any societies or anything like that - although I was actually employed by the university as an e-learning developer in 3rd year.

    3. But in regards to the LPC, would doing the LPC not show the firms "dedication to the proffession" etc.. Basically, what I want to know in regards to the LPC, would it seem like that I am waiting for someone i.e. the firm, the pay for the LPC if I still have not done it 2 years after graduating?

    As an alternative, what about smaller firms?, i.e. those outside the magic and silver circles, like smaller london firms with a niche in family law or perhaps regional firms - do they pay for the LPC or would it be better to apply to them with the LPC already completed?

    Thanks again
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    (Original post by MillieXYZ)
    1) How strong was your 2.1? We need more information about your grade breakdown, how many 2.2s? What was your extra curricular like?/leadership roles? If both of these are strong, then the fact that you're not getting interviews has to be down to the way that you fill in your applications. There is an element of luck, but if you have a strong 2.1, good work experience/extras, you should have got a few interviews from 20 applications. Also, what type of firms were you targeting?

    2) Judging by the information that you've given, I don't see why not. A*AA and a 2.1 from SOAS is fairly standard. It all depends on what else you have on your applications. You need to share more information about your time at university and what you was involved in.

    3) It depends if you can afford to self-fund or not. You need to consider that most firms recruit two years in advance, meaning that if you self-fund the LPC, you may still have a two year wait before starting. If you're in a good job, relatively speaking, I would stick with that for now. You don't want to do the LPC, not get a TC, and be 10k down.

    4) No, unless you happen to find a firm which is urgently searching for trainees to start. Having the LPC would be helpful in those circumstances.

    5) You'd have to paralegal for a good few years, i'm not sure that you're at the stage yet when you should consider that.
    quoting so you see my message
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    (Original post by J-SP)
    1) it's very hard to say without seeing your application(s). It could easily be your motivation isn't clear or realistic enough, it could be your application isn't well written, it could be that they want to see more work experience or more extra curricular responsibility.

    2) why would it be lowering your expectations? Apart from a potentially lower salary, there can be many benefits not going to a large commercial firm in London.

    3) I don't think there is a right or wrong approach here - it's very much a personal decision that has to be weighed up against personal circumstances.

    4) Reapplying is not necessarily a good idea unless here has been a significant development on your CV. The LPC is rarely seen as a significant development on its own.

    5) You could try and secure paralegal work. However if the aim is to secure a TC with the firm, you need to check their approach to paralegals. Most firms have a significant number of paralegals and if they thought it was a good idea they could promote many paralegals to trainees. However, with the exception is some firms whose strategy is to do that, most big commercial firms will convert very few paralegals into trainees. When it does happen, they have to be exceptional paralegals with exposure to work that is similar to trainees. That in itself is often difficult, not necessarily down to the paralegal's performance (although that can often be a barrier too), but due to the nature of the work they receive always being the admin level work with very low levels of responsibility.


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    2) why would it be lowering your expectations? Apart from a potentially lower salary, there can be many benefits not going to a large commercial firm in London.


    Hi JS-P thanks also for your very helpful reply. I wanted to ask you about this particular point, because I have also felt that there is life outside of these larger firms but I am not so sure about what is out there -

    firstly, is there a list out there of these firms?

    secondly, how do I go about applying for them? is there a set procedure like with bigger commercial firms, i.e. apply for vac schemes by the end of January and the for TCs by the end of July? Or is the application process vary more from firm to firm?

    thirdly, do they support you in gaining the LPC or are you expected to have it when you apply?

    sorry to be so much of a bother, its just that I am really not sure with what to do at the moment. any advice much appreciated
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    (Original post by sabrina9292)
    2) why would it be lowering your expectations? Apart from a potentially lower salary, there can be many benefits not going to a large commercial firm in London.


    Hi JS-P thanks also for your very helpful reply. I wanted to ask you about this particular point, because I have also felt that there is life outside of these larger firms but I am not so sure about what is out there -

    firstly, is there a list out there of these firms?

    secondly, how do I go about applying for them? is there a set procedure like with bigger commercial firms, i.e. apply for vac schemes by the end of January and the for TCs by the end of July? Or is the application process vary more from firm to firm?

    thirdly, do they support you in gaining the LPC or are you expected to have it when you apply?

    sorry to be so much of a bother, its just that I am really not sure with what to do at the moment. any advice much appreciated
    This where you look for other firms.

    http://www.lawcareers.net/

    There are two other possibilities with regional/smaller firms.

    One is that you secure the TC and then self-fund/borrow the money for the LPC.

    The other is that you do the LPC part-time whilst doing your TC. That isn't usually practicable with large London firms due to working hours/commuting time.
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    (Original post by sabrina9292)
    Hi MillieXYZ, thanks so much for your answer, it was very helpful. (This is the same person btw, just couldnt get into my old account )

    In response to your questions to me:

    1. My marks were slightly above average;

    Year 1 Legal Systems of Asia and Africa 71
    Introduction to Law and Legal Processes 67
    Criminal Law 67
    Contract Law 62

    Year 2 Tort Law 65
    Property Law 55
    Chinese Law 54
    Public Law 47

    Year 3 Government and Politics of the Middle East 69
    EU / European Human Rights 61
    Public International Law 63
    Equity 50

    2. In terms of what I was involved in at university, to be honest not a lot. I didn't really hold any positions of responsibility with any societies or anything like that - although I was actually employed by the university as an e-learning developer in 3rd year.

    3. But in regards to the LPC, would doing the LPC not show the firms "dedication to the proffession" etc.. Basically, what I want to know in regards to the LPC, would it seem like that I am waiting for someone i.e. the firm, the pay for the LPC if I still have not done it 2 years after graduating?

    As an alternative, what about smaller firms?, i.e. those outside the magic and silver circles, like smaller london firms with a niche in family law or perhaps regional firms - do they pay for the LPC or would it be better to apply to them with the LPC already completed?

    Thanks again
    1) How was your degree weighted? Your first year marks were strong, but ultimately they don't usually count towards the degree. Did you average over 60% in year 2/3 after taking into account the relative weighting? On first glance, I'm not entirely sure that you do, and that may be an issue for recruiters. I came up with an average of 58% over the two years, but it'll depend on the weighting/how degree classifications are decided.

    2) The lack of extra curricular are likely to be a problem both at application stage, and if you were to get to interview stage. It's very difficult to excel in interviews without a bank of real world experiences to call upon. They don't have to be position of responsibility, more tangible hobbies, interests, experiences, and so on.

    3) Not necessarily. I would however consider self-funding if you're no longer looking at the big city firms, because many of those firms will look for applicants who have self-funded. I haven't looked into the 'smaller' firms, but there are loads out there, you just need to do some research and consider where you want to take your career. There are so many firms, outside the magic circle/silver circle, google is your friend!

    I think it would be helpful to also consider other industries which may interest you, in order to prevent a situation where you self-fund the LPC and struggle to secure a TC.
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    (Original post by sabrina9292)
    Hi MillieXYZ, thanks so much for your answer, it was very helpful. (This is the same person btw, just couldnt get into my old account )

    In response to your questions to me:

    1. My marks were slightly above average;

    Year 1 Legal Systems of Asia and Africa 71
    Introduction to Law and Legal Processes 67
    Criminal Law 67
    Contract Law 62

    Year 2 Tort Law 65
    Property Law 55
    Chinese Law 54
    Public Law 47

    Year 3 Government and Politics of the Middle East 69
    EU / European Human Rights 61
    Public International Law 63
    Equity 50

    2. In terms of what I was involved in at university, to be honest not a lot. I didn't really hold any positions of responsibility with any societies or anything like that - although I was actually employed by the university as an e-learning developer in 3rd year.

    3. But in regards to the LPC, would doing the LPC not show the firms "dedication to the proffession" etc.. Basically, what I want to know in regards to the LPC, would it seem like that I am waiting for someone i.e. the firm, the pay for the LPC if I still have not done it 2 years after graduating?

    As an alternative, what about smaller firms?, i.e. those outside the magic and silver circles, like smaller london firms with a niche in family law or perhaps regional firms - do they pay for the LPC or would it be better to apply to them with the LPC already completed?

    Thanks again
    Your grades aren't consistent but I know a few people who have gone on to get training contracts at city firms with worse and without mitigating circumstances.

    I think it might just be the way you write your applications and the fact that you don't have much extra curricular experience. Usually if you've got a lot of those a recruiter might look past the odd slip up in grades.

    For this next cycle, I would suggest being proactive and doing some volunteering work (it doesn't have to be law related) and maybe pursuing an interest to build your skill set.

    Most importantly, don't be disheartened! Every applicant faces many rejections and all you need is one. Just have a thick skin and think about where you can improve. Another TSR user has set this website up which can help you:

    www.tcsmashers.com


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    (Original post by pp93)
    Your grades aren't consistent but I know a few people who have gone on to get training contracts at city firms with worse and without mitigating circumstances.

    I think it might just be the way you write your applications and the fact that you don't have much extra curricular experience. Usually if you've got a lot of those a recruiter might look past the odd slip up in grades.

    For this next cycle, I would suggest being proactive and doing some volunteering work (it doesn't have to be law related) and maybe pursuing an interest to build your skill set.

    Most importantly, don't be disheartened! Every applicant faces many rejections and all you need is one. Just have a thick skin and think about where you can improve. Another TSR user has set this website up which can help you:

    www.tcsmashers.com


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    Also I should add in the mitigating circumstances of your application form it might be worth mentioning that you worked alongside studying which explains a dip in your grades (if that is the case)


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    (Original post by sabrina9292)
    2) why would it be lowering your expectations? Apart from a potentially lower salary, there can be many benefits not going to a large commercial firm in London.


    Hi JS-P thanks also for your very helpful reply. I wanted to ask you about this particular point, because I have also felt that there is life outside of these larger firms but I am not so sure about what is out there -

    firstly, is there a list out there of these firms?

    secondly, how do I go about applying for them? is there a set procedure like with bigger commercial firms, i.e. apply for vac schemes by the end of January and the for TCs by the end of July? Or is the application process vary more from firm to firm?

    thirdly, do they support you in gaining the LPC or are you expected to have it when you apply?

    sorry to be so much of a bother, its just that I am really not sure with what to do at the moment. any advice much appreciated
    There are a whole swathe of firms out there. This is where research is key. The Internet makes it fairly easy to do this, and something like lawcareers.net or the lawyer2b are good starting points. But also look at your university careers service vacancy listings (you should have access to this for at least 3 years post graduating).

    They will all have different processes and application windows for their training contracts. Some will support you through the LPC, some won't. This is again why research is important.


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    (Original post by sabrina92)
    2. Is there any point of going for these big commercial firms in London? Should I lower my ambitions?

    3. I graduated a year ago, should I just do the LPC now or as soon as possible whilst working?

    4. If I did the LPC and reapplied would that be a benefit? In the eyes of the firms do you gain any advantage by having already done the LPC?
    2) It isn't necessarily a case of 'lowering your ambitions'. I made a conscious decision not to apply to the Magic Circle, for example, because I'd met enough MC trainees to know that the culture wasn't for me. If you're just applying to these kinds of firms because you haven't explored the alternatives, there's something wrong there. To actually answer your question, it's not entirely surprising not to get any bites from firms like this if you're doing 20 applications with your (good, but not mindblowing) CV. It's a bit of a numbers game even if your CV is strong and you have good application technique.

    3) Probably not, because (aside from the obscene expense):

    4) Generally no.
 
 
 
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