Applying for a training contract is very competitive. It is therefore very important that you dedicate enough time and thought into making your application the best it can be. This section provides some insight into how to impress at each stage of the application process.
- We recruit on a rolling basis – it is important that you get your application in early. We receive a large number of applications quite late in the recruitment process and unfortunately as we offer a limited number of training contracts and placements we do not always have spaces available at this point.
- Take your time. It is crucial however that you take your time to complete your application form. You do not have to complete your application in one sitting and are able to edit and change things until you are happy to submit it.
- Do your research and tailor your application! We are a niche firm and sending a generic covering letter that could have been sent to any other city law firm is not going to stand out. Make sure you research the firm so that you understand what kind of work we do and the type of clients we work for. Our top tip is that when reading through your covering letter, remove all references to the firm and see whether or not you still know what firm the application refers to.
- Avoid cut and paste. The recruitment team read all applications received and can spot a bad cut and paste job a mile off. Give attention to the structure and flow of your covering letter, and make sure that it reads well. Chunks of text from other applications are unlikely to achieve this.
- Avoid overly quoting the website or other marketing materials. Whilst it is great that you have read our website or brochure, quoting us word for word is not a good approach to use and comes across as lazy. Make sure you read a variety of sources to paint a bigger picture of the firm and how this aligns with your own interests and skill set.
- Sell yourself – the application is your chance to tell us why you would make an excellent trainee. Make sure you use the space available to this purpose- give us detail but also remember to write concisely- this is a key skill for legal work.
- Think about your transferable skills. You are applying for a training contract so are looking for potential, not the finished product. When writing about your work experience or your extracurricular activities, think about how this might translate into a career in law. For example if you spent a summer working in a restaurant think about what that has in common with a legal environment. On the surface this may not appear as very similar- but both are a fast paced environment with a key client facing element to them. Identify how your experiences has benefited you and make the most of it.
- Lastly but not least- proof read and proof read again. This is probably the biggest gripe we have when reading applications, and unfortunately is more common than you think. Whilst a small typo is very easy to miss, attention to detail is critical for legal work and thus is very important to see on the application form. Make sure that you proof read your application multiple times and also consider printing it out- some people find it easier to pick up on mistakes on paper rather than on a screen.
Watson Glaser Psychometric Test
If you are successful at application stage you will be invited to take the Watson Glaser test, which is a verbal reasoning test.
Plan ahead – you are given a week to sit the test. Make sure that you allow suitable time to take the test and don’t leave it to the last minute.
Make sure you’re not interrupted – The test is timed so make sure you pick a time and place to sit it which is quiet and where you are not likely to be disturbed.
Make sure your internet connection is stable – the test is online therefore make sure you ensure you have a stable internet connection. It seems obvious, but try to avoid taking the test when your connection could be disrupted- for example if you’re commuting by train or are roaming. If you do not have a reliable internet connection at home then see what local facilities are available.
Practice – The test includes an opportunity to complete a few test questions so you get used to the format of the questions and what you are being asked to complete. So many people skip these questions however they offer an invaluable chance to familiarise yourself with the test and prepare for the actual assessment.
Prepare – This goes without saying, make sure you have done your research on us. It will probably be a few months since you submitted your application so make sure that you familiarise yourself with your application and come prepared to talk around aspects of it.
Use examples – some of questions may be competency based so it can help to think of a few good examples ahead of time. When answering a competency question- try to give a specific example rather than something generic and think about the structure of your answer. We would recommend the STAR method; Situation- what was the scenario? Task- what was the task or goal? Action- What did you actually do? Result- what was the end result?
Think before you speak – an interview is your opportunity to sell yourself so make sure you think before you speak. It is acceptable to take a moment to think about your answer before speaking. The first thing that pops into your head might not be the best example.
Be commercial – Our process looks to identify trainees that have good commercial awareness and a high degree of common sense. We probably will ask a question around commercial awareness so make sure you have done your preparation. Unfortunately this isn’t something you can achieve overnight or by scanning the Financial Times on the way to your interview. Building commercial awareness takes time so ensure you keep up to date with current affairs, key developments in the legal sector, and also think about the markets our sectors operate in.
Ask questions – an interview is a two way process and is your opportunity to ask questions you might have about the firm, the training contract, or careers and expertise of the people who are interviewing you. Whilst it isn’t mandatory to ask questions, asking well-thought out questions can be a great way to demonstrate your interest in a certain area of the firm.