Training Contract* Antarctica?

Having been given a task to blog about trends around vacancies, I spent a good few hours (though admittedly no sleepless nights) trying to figure out which industry or sector my first post might be about. And then one morning, after the first sift through the emails but probably before the first coffee, I came across an article on the “The Lawyer” which reported a plunge in the number of training contract vacancies. Ouch. Gloomy news on an already gloomy day.

Being a law grad, a happy ex-vac schemer and a less happy ex-training contract seeker, this topic is close to my heart so I immersed myself in the article temporarily forgetting about those law fair invites that had to be sent.

If you love stats as much as I do, you’ll be interested to know that…

“In 2011/12 4,869 training contracts were registered by the Law Society compared with 5,441 in 2010/11 and 6,303 in 2006/07. The current figure is 16 per cent lower than pre-2008 numbers”.

These figures were reported towards the end of May in the Law Society’s Annual Statistics Report and show that the number of training contracts in 2011-2012 has decreased by 10.5 per cent as compared to the number in 2010-2011. Meanwhile, the numbers of applicants are going up.

So what does this mean to current students thinking about pursuing a career as a solicitor? Getting into the legal sector is increasingly competitive…But is this a good reason to self-select yourself out of a training contract? Definitely not!

Law firms receive a lot of training contract applications every year but the actual numbers are not as high as you might think. For example, the graduate recruitment team at Freshfields, one of the magic circle law firms, typically receives 18 applications per one training contract place (2012 figures) so the odds are really not too bad. See an interview with Jessica Booker, trainee recruitment manager at Freshfields, for a good insight into exactly how competitive it is to get into her firm.

The odds are even better for those who have done their research before applying, have genuine interest in the legal sector, are commercially aware and can demonstrate a real motivation for becoming a solicitor, as a high percentage of training applications are just not good enough to pass that all-important first selection stage.

If, however, you have doubts as to whether the career in law is really for you, consider your options carefully and keep an open mind. There are many rewarding careers which might suit you more and thus prove much more enjoyable. Watch out for our “Careers in…” events series starting in the autumn term to find out more about different sectors and roles which might be just right for you!

*New to the legal sector and not sure what a training contract is? It is essentially a two year period spent working in a law firm as a trainee solicitor. Find out more at http://www.lawcareers.net/Solicitors/TrainingContract

Karolina @ Employer Liaison blogging

Employer Engagement Team


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