you have to apply for the 3rd stage 2 years in advance, you have to start thinking about applying for a training contract/pupillage in your second year…
Abbey is a 2011 University of Leicester Graduate from the Law Department. I worked with Abbey when she was part of the Student Communication Team at the University of Leicester, and she has played an active role at the meetings of the SCT. She is currently (at the time of writing) employed by Cole & Co Solicitors
Faizan (Interviewer): So, Abbey, when did you start looking for a graduate job, and be honest, when did you actually start concentrating on finding one?
Abbey: In my opinion, the lucky thing with choosing a career in Law is that the path is pretty much mapped out for you, if you want it to be. Firstly, you study a law degree, secondly, depending on whether you want to be a solicitor or a barrister you take the Legal Practice Course or the Bar Professional Training Course. Once this stage is complete, you undertake a 2-year Training Contract or Pupillage.
As you have to apply for the 3rd stage 2 years in advance, you have to start thinking about applying for a training contract/pupillage in your second year. Therefore, I started applying for training contracts near the end of my second year and had to complete applications before the 31st July of that year, with interviews and assessments being held later that summer.
Faizan: That’s good, so what was the application/interview process like? Any tips for students looking for a job?
Abbey: My current job is with Cole & Co Solicitors – in some senses it cannot be classed as a ‘graduate job’, as it’s a job that I have in between finishing uni and prior to starting a training contract.
There was no application process for this particular job because I had applied to them for work experience last summer. Basically, last summer I sent covering letters and CVs to various law firms across the country. Cole & Co were kind enough to offer me 2 weeks unpaid work experience and by the end of the 1st week, I was asked to stay on another 5 weeks, paid. Presumably they thought I was a good worker, and asked me to come back this summer, and I’ve even been offered a part-time job, whilst I undertake the LPC part-time over the next 2 years.
However, when applying for Training contracts, I would advise taking time to complete applications – I cannot stress how important it is to proof read what you’ve written and to tailor it to that particular law firm you are applying to, so no copying and pasting! An application will instantly be rejected if it’s an application for one firm but in your answer you name another law firm, or even talk about areas of law that a firm doesn’t specialise in. I made this mistake with one application!
Faizan: I got a placement after doing a short internship, so that is the first note to students: if you get an internship or work-experience, then you can only go upwards from there. Do you have any views on the value of extra-curricular activities whilst at University?
Abbey: With Law, extra-curricular activities such as mooting, debating and client interviewing are a definite help, but it’s especially important to get as much work experience as possible. Work experience makes you stand out and shows that you’ve had experience of life as a lawyer and not just what you’ve been taught during your course.
The Careers Service at University has been very helpful throughout my time at university – I spoke to various people about my CV, how to write cover letters, and even spoke to them about jobs. I also attended various careers fairs to speak to graduate employers, to ask what they looked for in their graduates in order to tailor applications to the specific employer.
Faizan: Thanks a lot for the interview. Pretty impressive words, and exactly the kind of stuff that will help students be more motivated and plan their career.
(The following interview was conducted by the author during the time he was contracted for writing for UOL Careers Blog, where the interview appears in original.)