As a first-generation graduate who has no family connections to lawyers, qualifying as a solicitor was very confusing. I often found myself lost when it came to applications for work experience and training contracts as I had no prior knowledge or guidance as to how to approach them.
What is a Training Contract?
A training contract is a two-year training period carried out in a law firm or in-house in an organisation by law graduates pursuing a career as a solicitor. Once you complete the two-year training period, you can become a trainee solicitor after a qualifying law degree and the LPC.
A law training contract gives a trainee solicitor the opportunity to demonstrate to their firm and the Solicitors’ Regulatory Authority that they have the skills required to successfully practice law and qualify as a solicitor.
Thankfully, The City Law School is home to the Training Contract Advisory Service (TCAS). They provide dedicated advice to help Legal Practice Course (LPC) students like myself to find a training contract. TCAS has amazing legal experts who are trained to guide you through the process of finding employment both within the legal profession and in the public and commercial sectors of the economy.
When I accepted my place on the LPC at The City Law School, I was able to start using the TCAS immediately. I was able to get one-to-one advice and make an individual appointment with the service. There is no limit to the number of appointments you can book which is great as it’s good to know there is always support available at City.
The TCAS advisors are there to help students prepare for interviews, assessment days, or presentations and I truly recommend making the most of the service as the advice is very useful.
Another way how TCAS has helped me is through the events organised they put on at The City Law School. My favourite event so far has been TCAS Day which was held recently in May and hosted by an external speaker, Jake Schogger.
For some context, Jake Schogger is a qualified lawyer, career coach, entrepreneur, author, copywriter and consultant. He is the founder and CEO of City Career Series, a publishing company that has sold approximately 50,000 handbooks designed to help students secure City careers, including the critically acclaimed Commercial Law Handbook. He trained at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LP and now acts as a legal adviser to start-ups and scale-ups, whilst also working as a career coach and delivering career-related presentations at universities across the UK.
Jake was very well informed about every step of the training contract application process and offered me invaluable knowledge that I definitely have not been able to access on my own in the past. I found every workshop throughout the day extremely useful, fun, and interactive and I learned a lot from Jake!
In the past, I have lacked confidence in my applications, CV, interview answers, etc but after TCAS Day, I felt much more confident and took on board all of Jake’s advice. I’ve summarised some of the key pieces of advice which have really helped me:
General Training Contract application advice:
- Avoid generic answers
- Tailor your applications to firms
- Firms focus on different skills, so should you
- Reference the correct department names
- Make sure there are no errors
- Relate all answers back to yourself
- Focus on the transferrable aspects
- And most importantly…do not lie!
My favourite part of the day was learning about the psychometric tests e.g. Watson Glaser tests as information or examples on these tests are very difficult to locate online and I learned how to approach them in depth thanks to Jake and the TCAS team.
Advice on Psychometric tests, Verbal Reasoning tests and Critical Thinking tests:
- Start by carefully reading the primary passage
- Disregard your own general knowledge and opinions
- Don’t get caught out by generalisations
- Don’t make assumptions
- Don’t assume a cause-and-effect relationship
- Consider creating flow charts to summarise the logic within each passage
- Don’t look for answer patterns
- Learn to ignore irrelevant information
- Don’t linger on questions for too long
One thing I have struggled with in interviews is asking questions. Every time the interviewer asks me ‘do you have any questions for us?’, I usually would say ‘no’ but after TCAS Day, I realised that this is not the right answer and employers actually prefer when applicants ask questions!
Advice on asking questions:
- Interviews are two-way conversations
- Tailor questions to the role and seniority of your interview(s)
- Listen carefully
- Ask questions that you’re generally interested in as this will allow for a more natural conversation to flow
- Ask thoughtful questions to show your genuine interest e.g. ask about the interview’s career journey
- Never speak badly about other firms or jobs as this makes firms think you’ll be capable of speaking badly about them in the future
- Keep your examples professional
- Keep a record of WHO interviewed you
- Spend 2-3 minutes maximum per answer and then say, ‘would you like me to elaborate further?’ So, you don’t speak too much or too short and you allow the employer to decide if they’d like to know more or not. Any more than 3 minutes is too long as it will begin to seem that you are egocentric.
- Speak with a slow and steady pace
- Give context to the experiences you talk about
- Don’t twist a strength into a weakness
I really recommend the TCAS to future LPC/Law students and really recommend making the most of the support available whilst at City as you will learn so much and develop your skills, helping you to become an amazing candidate for any job in the future!
Thank you to Samantha MacNamara at TCAS for organising such a wonderful event and for all of the support through the service.
Written by Angjelina, Legal Practice Course (LPC) student at The City Law School