A former City partner’s guide to navigating the training contract application process

With interview season simply round the nook, former NRF lawyer Nick Clayson presents up his high suggestions and recommendation to these in search of to enter the world of massive regulation

In the previous couple of months, I’ve been requested by a lot of totally different college students for profession recommendation. Whether or not it’s – how do I get into in huge regulation? How do I make myself a greater candidate? What are regulation companies in search of from aspiring solicitors?

On this article I cowl the method you may take to making an application and getting ready for an interview — slightly than stepping into all of the varied routes to qualification and work expertise schemes which might be open to you.

Please be at liberty to add your nuggets of knowledge in the feedback or share with anybody that doesn’t have somebody to ask.

Are you able to reply the query: ‘Why do you want to be a lawyer?’

We don’t save the world. We don’t make it a greater place — typically. Some would say extra legal professionals would in all probability make the world a worse place. Telling an interviewer that you’ve “always had a passion for shipping finance/LMA contracts” might be going to be a much less efficient reply than explaining that you just’re all for “using your brain to navigate rules in order to help your clients solve problems/achieve their goals”.

We all know it’s a well-paying, comparatively secure job in a usually un-hostile setting. That is in all probability one in every of the causes you need the job. Saying that is in all probability not going to improve your probabilities of being provided the job. Do be ready to speak about why you need to work in huge regulation.

What’s all this about industrial consciousness?

Don’t get hung up on this. Every thing you do in huge regulation ought to require industrial consciousness (i.e., consciousness of the context during which you’re endeavor the process). It exists all over the place. It’s not a separate ability. It’s an consciousness the enterprise causes behind why you’re being requested to do your job.

I used to ask a training contract interview query about merchandising machine in an workplace constructing, tenanted by a regulation agency, the merchandising machine being owned by a third-party provider and maintained by a contractor. The merchandising machine fails to ship the can if you inserted the coin. Who do I sue? I by no means received the “no-one — it’s a can of coke!” reply. It will have impressed me (however I nonetheless would have needed the authorized evaluation).

Typically a shopper asks for one factor, however wants one other. Your training will develop the expertise you want to try this — however when answering questions at interview, demonstrating your capability to drawback remedy, collaborate, talk is what’s being seemed for.

Know your application — and management the message

If it’s in your application, it’s honest sport to be requested about it. When requested about it at interview, don’t play it down or remark that this specific factor you’ve gotten spoken about in your application type was not an enormous deal (or worse that you just weren’t really actually concerned). You must have sufficient life experiences to make sure that all the pieces in your application type demonstrates in some why you’re proper for the job. You’ll be able to management this by solely placing issues you’re glad to speak about in your application.

Loads of regulation companies will ask you to speak about one thing in the information or modifications in the enterprise world which might be of curiosity to you. Don’t fake to be all for stuff you’re not all for.

Don’t write what you assume a superb candidate would say

Suppose as an alternative about one thing that’s of precise curiosity to you and write about that however be ready to speak about it if/when you’ve gotten an interview. his must be your consolation zone as a result of chances are you’ll find yourself speaking about one thing that you recognize extra about than the interviewer — and that might be a superb place to be. Giving your self a combating likelihood by really having some data/curiosity has to be the method right here. It’s authentic for you not to care about crypto or blockchain. It’s authentic to have one thing to say about the monetary honest play system in the soccer switch market, the breakaway Saudi-backed LIV golf league or the influence that House X satellite tv for pc broadband could have on rising economies.

I’ve misplaced depend of the variety of instances I’ve seen “blockchain” on an application. Sure, it could change the world, however are you assured to speak about the way it works and why it’d with a accomplice who has in all probability been to a lot of seminars on the topic? In case you are — nice, however for those who’re not, select one thing that places you in the driving seat.

NB – If the query relates to the apply of regulation slightly than enterprise (which I feel is an unfair query, as a result of that’s a regulation agency administration subject), then enterprise points can nonetheless be related, as a result of regulation companies exist solely to serve their shoppers and the enterprise problems with shoppers is the enterprise of regulation companies.

Management, teamwork and related expertise

These questions on teamwork and management. Whether or not you had been captain of the England underneath 18s netball staff, you participated in a neighborhood frisbee league or organised the college charity jumble sale it doesn’t matter except you’ll be able to show teamwork, onerous work and management. Your solutions want to show this. Profitable five-nil or elevating £5,000 isn’t related except you present your working — i.e., select the issues that you just did that made a distinction.

It completely doesn’t matter that your expertise was in a store or in a pub. These jobs are sometimes robust and are vastly priceless by way of the expertise gained. Don’t attempt to play these down. Authorized expertise could be very useful (and reveals a need and curiosity in the occupation), however interviewers will perceive that for many individuals, funding their research entails a extra standard job. Should you shouldn’t have expertise of working at a regulation agency (whether or not an open day, trip scheme or work expertise) do be ready to clarify what pursuits you about working for a regulation agency in huge regulation, and the steps you’ve gotten taken to discover out about the day job.

In case you are requested in an interview a couple of tough state of affairs, the query shouldn’t be probing you for weak spot. It’s asking you to show your resilience, your integrity and your method slightly than for you to establish a failing or one thing unhealthy that occurred. Convey out the optimistic end result (or what you discovered) slightly than focussing on the horrible factor that occurred.

‘What are your strengths and weaknesses?’

I don’t like this as a query (or collection of questions). To me it demonstrates a scarcity of preparation on the a part of the interviewer. If the application type was thorough (which it is going to have been for an enormous regulation training contract), there can be a lot to ask with out reverting to this line of questioning.

Should you do get requested, don’t say “I’m a bit of a perfectionist” or “I work too hard” or “I care too much”. It sounds terrible. Strive onerous not to say “answering questions like this” or “reverse parking” or “Tony’s Chocolonely”.

As a substitute, maybe concentrate on a component of suggestions you’ve gotten been given and the way you’ve gotten labored to enhance in consequence.
Asking about strengths is a equally weak query however simpler to reply. You must have an understanding of what’s required by the job. Ensure that there may be some overlap between your strengths and the job you’re in search of.
How do I discover out extra about what regulation companies are doing?

Legislation companies do their greatest to differentiate themselves. They perceive that there are many legal professionals round and they’re typically chasing the similar shoppers. They subsequently want to retain visibility in the market, not simply to appeal to new shoppers but additionally to be seen as business leaders. They publish a lot of articles. You must learn a few of these (as many as you’ll be able to deal with). Studying two or three articles about the similar topic by totally different regulation companies gives you larger perspective.

The LinkedIn pages of a lot of regulation companies which can assist you perceive the points they assume are vital to their shoppers, but additionally how they convey them.

Most huge regulation companies could have a graduate recruitment web page. They’re helpful too. They inform you about what it may be like apply and practice at the agency. They gives you good perception into “a day in the life”. Keep in mind if you’re making use of to a agency, it’s the graduate recruitment staff that can be initially studying your application. There can be info the graduate recruitment literature about what they’re in search of. Discuss in these phrases. These graduate recruitment websites may also make you conscious of open days, work expertise, trip schemes and different programmes.

You must have questions!

The interview will often embrace a possibility for you to ask questions. The worst factor you’ll be able to presumably do is point out you don’t have anything to ask. You might be in the room with individuals who can change your path, so having them take pleasure in the interplay and speak about themselves goes to assist them really feel positively about the expertise of interviewing you. Put together a couple of, as a result of if the level or material has already been lined in the dialogue, you’ll maybe not need to ask it. The interviewers need to really feel that you’ve made an effort to be there. In case you have no questions, it sends the flawed message.

Entry necessities

Most regulation companies will publish their grade necessities and for those who don’t have them, it’s going to be robust. Be sensible. Should you don’t have the grades, don’t rule out being accepted however chances are you’ll want to select an alternate path (for instance impressing as a paralegal).

Can somebody you recognize assist you?

Fortunately most big-law companies as of late function on the foundation that its what you recognize, not who you recognize. In case you have some good connections, use them to assist you apply interviewing or to learn your draft purposes. They received’t (or ought not to) have the ability to get you an interview — so ask them to assist with the issues they might help with.

Don’t pay for assist. Profitable legal professionals don’t want to monetise their success by charging would-be trainee solicitors for application and interviewing suggestions. It’s extremely unlikely this may be cash properly spent. Most individuals know somebody who is aware of somebody that may proof learn an application or maintain a mock interview.

There are numerous legal professionals boards and authorized web sites (together with Authorized Cheek). Search these out. The dialogue isn’t all the time 100% associated to regulation, however there are many educated individuals who will gladly level you in the proper path.

Chances are you’ll know somebody who has not too long ago been via the process — or a pal of a pal. And that’s why I’m penning this, as its typically individuals I don’t know immediately which have requested me to assist somebody they know

Nick Clayson is a former accomplice at Norton Rose Fulbright. He’s presently working as in-house head of authorized for a luxurious lodge operator on a hybrid foundation.

The Authorized Cheek Digital Trip Scheme is again for its summer season 2022 version — that includes Slaughter and Could, The Financial institution of England and extra! The Scheme is free to attend and open to all college students. Should you haven’t already, SECURE YOUR PLACE.

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