The Student Room Group

Mature Applicant - Training Contract

I appreciate that there are a lot of threads about "how old is too old" for a training contract and invariably the answer is that it depends on the firm. However, if I may I'd like to ask some questions to get a better understanding of the value proposition that I would - or would not - offer to a firm to see if I can identify which firms I should be applying to.

Some basic facts first. I'd be 42 or 43 when I started most training contracts currently open for applications. My career history is in financial services specialising in compliance and I would be looking to carry this experience over to my legal career. I have already completed SQE1 but I didn't do a PGDL first as following a conversation with BARBRI and quite a bit of SQE question practice I determined I couldn't justify the additional time to qualify or the expense! My questions are:

1) The youngest I will qualify will be 44. I don't have any intention to retire before the state retirement age of 68, so offering 24 years to a future firm. However, do firms still assume people will retire at 60?

2) Based on the answer to the first question, am I likely to face ageism in most firms even if I do get a training contract? In particular, will I have the same opportunity to progress as younger trainees even if it is unlikely I will have enough time to make partner?

3) How useful is my prior career experience really? I cannot help but think whilst I might have some relevant knowledge I would have no experience of "doing" the job so at best it would be like hiring a 22 year old with a Masters degree in financial regulation! Can mature hires with experience in their field progress more rapidly or is this extremely unlikely?

4) How much does a trainee cost to hire, assuming they are onboarded with all their qualifications taken and passed already and they do not need any bursaries? How long does it typically take to turn a trainee from a cost centre to a revenue generator? Does it vary by sector?
Reply 1
I wouldn't worry about maximum years of future service and I'd be very surprised if this is considered at all by the firm - even assuming a retirement age of 60 that's still 16 years and the firm will be assuming people leave for other legal jobs in a much shorter timescale than that - some on qualification, some after a couple of years of qualification experience, etc... I'd be surprised if more than a third of solicitors after 10 years are still at the firm they trained at.

Re prior career experience, it really depends but important to remember that your experience isn't just the fine detail and technical knowhow of your previous career, it's also all the other experience you have in managing deadlines and workload, your experience of written and spoken communication in the corporate world, ability to "get along" with others in a office environment, confidence on phone calls and with clients etc... All of this can create a slightly faster progression although law firms tend to be a little bit hierarchical and "time served" in terms of junior to mid level promotions.
Reply 2
Many thanks for your response. I also get your point on the "softer" skills at work although - having come from a big recruiter of top calibre graduates myself, albeit not in law - I find it quite rare for those even coming in at 21 or 22 to not have honed these skills within a year or two (and most seem to have developed those skills before their first job!). So I'm not sure if that is a major selling point for me?

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