lawcalling
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Summer application season is approaching! Anyone interested in applying for direct TC's commencing 2022 feel free to join the conversation.

A quick summary of 2022 TC deadlines can be found here: https://www.lawcareers.net/Solicitor...?sections=2022.

I'm also happy to answer any questions about direct TC applications having received my offer via this route, rather than through a vac scheme (future MC trainee).
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LollyLOU
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Congrats on your offer for TC, where is it?

What are your top tips for applying please? Xx
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lawcalling
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Thanks for the question LollyLOU! I personally rather not say which firm I will be training at but I’m happy to provide a bit of background. I’m currently a final year law student at a RG university. I took part in four first year schemes (none of them being MC) and was offered two vacation schemes, however I could only attend one of the two since they clashed (the one I took was at an MC firm). Following the vacation scheme, I also interviewed at two other MC firms for a direct Training Contract, subsequently accepting an offer from one of them. I made around 10 applications in first year, 10 in second year for vacation schemes and three for direct training contract applications in the summer of second year.

Here are my top tips for applications (in a range of formats). These are completely personal but seem to have worked for me. I’d personally say my strength is on the application side as I had around a 40% success rate application > interview in first year, 60% in my vacation scheme cycle, to 100% in my final cycle of direct Training Contract applications. I’d definitely say there is a knack to writing applications and you will improve over time, especially if you ask for feedback (whether it be from the law firm itself, friends or an organisation like Rare) and take it onboard. You will improve over time so please don’t get disheartened if your first, second or even third cycle isn’t successful.

Prose questions/general advice:

  • It sounds ridiculous, but make sure you are answering the question asked, a lot of students write about what they want to write about (use the wording of the question if it helps - I always do!)
  • If it’s a question asking you to outline the reasons you want to apply to a firm specifically, or what skills you have developed, I try and have a starting sentence outlining my rough structure e.g. ‘I was initially attracted to X due to its Y approach, the firm’s high quality of work and my experiences at the firm’s Open Day.’ The rule of three is generally good here. This can apply to most application questions.
  • Don’t use flowery language that you wouldn’t use in day to day life.
  • Make sure you research the firm and tailor the application, if you can put another firm’s name in its place it isn’t specific enough. I particularly see this in relation to ‘interesting work’, ‘international’ aspects and ‘high profile clients’. These reasons are mentioned but no further depth is provided. These are very good reasons to apply to law firms, but you need to say why these aspects interest you specifically and why that firm excels/is particularly appealing e.g. ‘Secondly, although many firms advise on high-profile deals, X firm advise on more Y type of client than any other law firm, setting them apart in terms of quantity and quality of client work. This standard became particularly evident when discussing the X/Y deal with Partner X…’ (go on to discuss why you found this particularly interesting).
  • Start a couple of sentences with words ending in ‘-ing’ such as ‘listening’, ‘learning’ or ‘spending several weeks in X firms has taught me about….’ - this makes your application more active rather than purely descriptive (and it can vary up your sentence structure a bit more).
  • Always give examples and try to quantify results - how many people attended X society’s workshop/ % increase in membership or % who found useful/very useful.
  • Everything you write - be prepared to talk about - don’t write that you learnt about ‘interested in the legal and financial processes in large capital-intensive markets and challenges this poses’ if you can’t talk about it.
  • Your parents/friends are invaluable for proof reading, I also like to make use of the free version of Grammarly.
  • If the sentence/part of the sentence doesn’t add anything to the answer of the question, get rid of it.
  • Only name drop if you learnt something from them and can write about this, and don’t name drop excessively.


CV specific advice:

  • Keep it to two pages of A4 max (and don't make your font or margins noticeably small, if it looks like you're trying to take advantage of the two page limit then you probably are).
  • My general structure: ‘Education’, ‘Employment and work experience’ (split this into legal and non-legal sections if you have legal experience), ‘Responsibilities, awards and achievements’ and ‘References’ (I don’t include a personal bio at the beginning or a skills section).
  • I’m personally a fan of bullet points rather than prose, one of the recruitment partners at Slaughters said this was their preference.
  • I wouldn’t directly reference skills outright, especially in a CV where you’re particularly limited in terms of space - I would tend to demonstrate them through my responsibilities, actions and results.
  • All of my points were 2-4 bullet points:
  • The first always provided context e.g. Shadowed Senior Associate X in the Y Department; full time job advising employers and learners on training courses such as X and Y
  • The second and third would outline my responsibilities/actions e.g. Responsible for researching and writing a ‘X’ website article about Y; researched updates for clients regarding X and Y, focusing primarily on corporate strategy, government reports and legislative developments; ran workshops such as how to X and Y, as well as dealing with administrative paperwork
  • My final bullet point would include any results, if I had any e.g. achieved X% above average for the number of successful dialogues with clients; progressed to training other members of staff; the team’s subsequent community event raised over £X for charity; nominated for X award (quantifying your results is always good if possible)
  • Note: not all your work experience has to be ‘impressive’ per se - law firms took great interest in my part time job in retail and full time factory work over the summer to fund university - I think jobs like these can sometimes show more grit than others!


Cover letter advice:

  • Make sure to check you you’re meant to be addressing the CV to - it’ll either be to an individual or a graduate recruitment team. If it’s to a graduate recruitment team make sure you get the official title correct, as some are called Graduate Resourcing and Development teams etc. Similarly, if you’re addressing the cover letter to a woman, make sure you get the Miss/Ms/Mrs title correct. I don’t think it’d be make or break by any means, it’s just polite and preferable.
  • The cover letter should be no more than a page max (I have a friend who wrote a few sentences for Slaughters and got a interview, however his CV was very impressive).
  • No need for an address or any personal details, I just start with ‘Dear X’.
  • Have a little intro stating what you are applying for and note your initial interest in the firm e.g. ‘I am writing to you to apply for the 2021 Training Contract. As an attendee of the X event last September, I had the opportunity to meet with representatives from Y firm and was subsequently able to meet with X at the firm, who shared his positive experiences with me’. This was an external event, not at the firm itself, the noted person was also a graduate recruitment partner so that’s the only reason I singled him out - otherwise I would be more general. If you have had any personal experiences with the firm I would highlight this in the ‘intro’/starting sentence.


Watson Glaser Test:

  • Make sure you make use of practice tests online.
  • Make sure you understand the instructions and terminology e.g. probably false - more likely to be true than false.
  • Quite a lot of sites will provide the reasoning behind the answers at the end of test, make sure to look at this reasoning, whether you got the question right or wrong, just so you can learn how the test ‘thinks’.
  • I personally didn’t personally pay for any resources, if you are part of organisation like Rare they can provide WG practices.


Useful resources/helpful organisations:

  • Please check your eligibility for Rare, Aspiring Solicitors, SEO, Grow Mentoring, Sutton Trust etc, I was involved with the former two and they provided invaluable advice for applications and interviews, exposure to the firms through Open Days and Rare also went above and beyond to provide me with a last minute full-day mock assessment centre in London. I’m also a mentor with Grow at the moment and anyone can sign up to be a mentee.
  • If you’re in college/sixth form you can also look at PRIME for potential work experience (however I'd like to stress that PRIME, first years schemes and even vacation schemes aren't vital to securing a TC)
  • Make use of podcasts on your commute/journey to university. I particularly enjoy Wake up to Money and The Bottom Line.
  • Make use of online resources and social media such as The Corporate Law Academy, The Business Update and Simple Politics.
  • The Chris Stoakes books are great for getting to grips with the basics.


I hope other users will chip in their advice too! A lot of the above is personal preference and opinions and may of course differ to other applicants advice. I hope this was of use and just let me know if you have any other questions. I'm sure coffeeneeded27 would also be happy to help with any non-law questions (also a future MC trainee but at a different MC firm and universty to myself).
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LollyLOU
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Wow, thank you so much for such comprehensive advice. I will be sure to take this on board. I am going to check my eligibility for the schemes too.

Really appreciated

Thank you

Louise
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coffeeneeded27
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Thanks for the tag lawcalling yep happy to answer any qs either about being a non law applicant (and future mc trainee) or about the app process in general
(Also I’m deaf so if anyone wants to talk about disabilities etc in the process hmu and i’ll do my best to help)
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lawcalling
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(Original post by LollyLOU)
Wow, thank you so much for such comprehensive advice. I will be sure to take this on board. I am going to check my eligibility for the schemes too.

Really appreciated

Thank you

Louise
Glad you found it useful! Sounds like a plan.
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LpoolLawStudent
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(Original post by lawcalling)
Summer application season is approaching! Anyone interested in applying for direct TC's commencing 2022 feel free to join the conversation.

A quick summary of 2022 TC deadlines can be found here: https://www.lawcareers.net/Solicitor...?sections=2022.

I'm also happy to answer any questions about direct TC applications having received my offer via this route, rather than through a vac scheme (future MC trainee).
I applied for a vac scheme with Shoosmiths in December. They didn't end up proceeding past applications because of coronavirus (nobody got rejected or proceeded). They're now using our applications for direct TCs. After having a friend look over my application, I'm worried that I'm going to be unsuccessful. So I contacted grad rec asking if I could submit a fresh application, which I would have been entitled to do had my VS application been rejected. I haven't yet had an answer and the deadline is fast approaching... do you think I've shot myself in the foot?
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lawcalling
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(Original post by LpoolLawStudent)
I applied for a vac scheme with Shoosmiths in December. They didn't end up proceeding past applications because of coronavirus (nobody got rejected or proceeded). They're now using our applications for direct TCs. After having a friend look over my application, I'm worried that I'm going to be unsuccessful. So I contacted grad rec asking if I could submit a fresh application, which I would have been entitled to do had my VS application been rejected. I haven't yet had an answer and the deadline is fast approaching... do you think I've shot myself in the foot?
I wouldn’t worry too much. Did you give a reason as to why you wanted to submit a new application? e.g. new grades/new significant extra-curriculars? If there’s nothing vital to change I’d just leave it be!
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LpoolLawStudent
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(Original post by lawcalling)
I wouldn’t worry too much. Did you give a reason as to why you wanted to submit a new application? e.g. new grades/new significant extra-curriculars? If there’s nothing vital to change I’d just leave it be!
I said that I had much more to discuss, which would give a better representation of my potential. Which is partly true. Also, I just didn't really use my research of the firm and relevant markets very on the original application. I really rushed to submit as soon as the firms opened up applications, which was such a big mistake!
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lawcalling
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(Original post by LpoolLawStudent)
I said that I had much more to discuss, which would give a better representation of my potential. Which is partly true. Also, I just didn't really use my research of the firm and relevant markets very on the original application. I really rushed to submit as soon as the firms opened up applications, which was such a big mistake!
Unfortunately it is what it is, I wouldn’t email again or submit another application using another email, just hope for the best and learn for next time around.
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LpoolLawStudent
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(Original post by lawcalling)
Unfortunately it is what it is, I wouldn’t email again or submit another application using another email, just hope for the best and learn for next time around.
Thank you!
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AshleaJade
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Hi, I’m currently studying my degree alongside working full time as a litigation executive at a Manchester firm. When it comes to the time for me to submit applications does anyone know if I would be able to apply for VS or would this be considered a conflict? Or would I have to apply for direct TC
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lawcalling
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(Original post by AshleaJade)
Hi, I’m currently studying my degree alongside working full time as a litigation executive at a Manchester firm. When it comes to the time for me to submit applications does anyone know if I would be able to apply for VS or would this be considered a conflict? Or would I have to apply for direct TC
I think if you got accepted I would perhaps mention it if your law firm does similar kind of work at a similar kind of level? No harm in letting grad rec know, but imo there definitely isn’t a need to say anything until you get a vac offer. It certainly wouldn’t deter me from applying for a vac! If there is the possibility of a conflict, they’ll probably just place you in a department where there wouldn’t be. Any thoughts coffeeneeded27?
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montyr
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Any advice for applying to firms you haven’t really interacted with? By that I mean haven’t attended open days or met at a careers fair.
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coffeeneeded27
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(Original post by AshleaJade)
Hi, I’m currently studying my degree alongside working full time as a litigation executive at a Manchester firm. When it comes to the time for me to submit applications does anyone know if I would be able to apply for VS or would this be considered a conflict? Or would I have to apply for direct TC
(Original post by lawcalling)
I think if you got accepted I would perhaps mention it if your law firm does similar kind of work at a similar kind of level? No harm in letting grad rec know, but imo there definitely isn’t a need to say anything until you get a vac offer. It certainly wouldn’t deter me from applying for a vac! If there is the possibility of a conflict, they’ll probably just place you in a department where there wouldn’t be. Any thoughts coffeeneeded27?
Hey, so I was an in-house paralegal when I was doing applications so can relate to the situation. My advice:

1) check your current job contract that it allows you to do other placements at other firms, some contracts might prevent you from working at another firm even on experience such as a vac during your employment. I'd recommend discussing it with your line manager if you feel comfortable doing so just to cover all eventualities and ensure you don't accidentally breach anything.

2) As lawcalling said, I wouldn't' let the situation deter me from applying for a vac as it is great experience to have

3) when you get the vac offer, have the conflict of interest discussion with grad rec *straight away*. If the firm acts for a competitor of a firm you represent, even if it is not directly related to the matter, you often won't be allowed in or near that department. I had this a few times e.g. the firm was representing another supermarket on a totally unrelated matter that had nothing to do with the supermarket I worked for but I still wasn't allowed in that department.

Hope that helps, overall don't let it put you off a vac but total transparency at all stages with your employer and the firm you're going to is deffo the best way forward!
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I did two VS last year whilst I was employed by another law firm. I only told my manager about one of the VS and he didn't raise any concerns. I had to fill out forms prior to starting either of them which screened for conflicts. I am feeling very disheartened this year. Last year I applied for the VS route, I had two VS and in total I think 5 ACs, I had 6 AC invites but I had to miss one due to being unwell. I am heavily restricted by geography as I have a young child and my husband works locally and I don't drive. A number of the places that I applied last year do not seem to be recruiting this year such as DLA Piper and Weightmans. I have heard nothing back from Hill Dickinson or DWF at all yet - is that typical at this stage? I applied many months ago. BLM have emailed to say that they are pausing the process - I'm assuming due to covid-19. I was going to apply to Freeths again (I didn't get an AC invite there last year), but that's been temporarily closed to new applications, and I'm concerned they may not reopen them again. I'm no spring chicken either - last year I was the oldest at every AC and VS I went on - so I'm concerned that yet another year seems to be passing me by.
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(Original post by Unconventional.)
I did two VS last year whilst I was employed by another law firm. I only told my manager about one of the VS and he didn't raise any concerns. I had to fill out forms prior to starting either of them which screened for conflicts. I am feeling very disheartened this year. Last year I applied for the VS route, I had two VS and in total I think 5 ACs, I had 6 AC invites but I had to miss one due to being unwell. I am heavily restricted by geography as I have a young child and my husband works locally and I don't drive. A number of the places that I applied last year do not seem to be recruiting this year such as DLA Piper and Weightmans. I have heard nothing back from Hill Dickinson or DWF at all yet - is that typical at this stage? I applied many months ago. BLM have emailed to say that they are pausing the process - I'm assuming due to covid-19. I was going to apply to Freeths again (I didn't get an AC invite there last year), but that's been temporarily closed to new applications, and I'm concerned they may not reopen them again. I'm no spring chicken either - last year I was the oldest at every AC and VS I went on - so I'm concerned that yet another year seems to be passing me by.
DWF seems to be going through a bit of turmoil at the moment with the CEO having just been ousted, massive debt and seemingly significant cuts on the way so I wouldn’t be surprised if their graduate recruitment gets pulled altogether.
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AshleaJade
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(Original post by Unconventional.)
I did two VS last year whilst I was employed by another law firm. I only told my manager about one of the VS and he didn't raise any concerns. I had to fill out forms prior to starting either of them which screened for conflicts. I am feeling very disheartened this year. Last year I applied for the VS route, I had two VS and in total I think 5 ACs, I had 6 AC invites but I had to miss one due to being unwell. I am heavily restricted by geography as I have a young child and my husband works locally and I don't drive. A number of the places that I applied last year do not seem to be recruiting this year such as DLA Piper and Weightmans. I have heard nothing back from Hill Dickinson or DWF at all yet - is that typical at this stage? I applied many months ago. BLM have emailed to say that they are pausing the process - I'm assuming due to covid-19. I was going to apply to Freeths again (I didn't get an AC invite there last year), but that's been temporarily closed to new applications, and I'm concerned they may not reopen them again. I'm no spring chicken either - last year I was the oldest at every AC and VS I went on - so I'm concerned that yet another year seems to be passing me by.
Hey thanks I’ll be sure to apply when the time comes around! Do you mind me asking how old you are? I’ll be a pretty late applicant too so I’m just concerned as to whether they prefer those who are early twenties out of university. Just hoping it doesn’t hinder my application 😊
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HannahJFox
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Any London firms that don’t expect RG applicants? Or is it best to apply for smaller firms outside of the city if your A-levels aren’t AAB? Also I am currently working as a paralegal abroad in the Middle East, I’m worried about if I do get interviews how I would attend. I get 40 days holiday a year but it’s more the expense of flying back for different interviews. Would you mention this in your application? Thanks
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(Original post by HannahJFox)
Any London firms that don’t expect RG applicants? Or is it best to apply for smaller firms outside of the city if your A-levels aren’t AAB? Also I am currently working as a paralegal abroad in the Middle East, I’m worried about if I do get interviews how I would attend. I get 40 days holiday a year but it’s more the expense of flying back for different interviews. Would you mention this in your application? Thanks
Regarding the RG firms, firms don't care about RG applicants- RG students tend to fare better as there is more law firm events at their uni. At some of my interviews I met people who went to non russel group unis. Your paralegal experience is amazing for this career so use that to your advantage. The AAB minimum requirement is usually strict, however firms accept mitigating circumstances(should you have any)

Sorry I can't advice on the second part but hope its all well for you!
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