Is there Fair Competition for International Students in securing a Training Contract

| Career Insights

Is there Fair Competition for International Students in securing a Training Contract?

Short answer, NO.

In 2018/2019, 485,645 international students pursued their degrees in the UK and the number only increases every passing year.[1]Focusing on the legal field, about 5500 training contracts jobs are available every year and about 30,000 students apply for them. This means that chances for a student to get a training contract are a meagre 18.3%.[2] Chances become all the more miniscule for International students because they need to filter and target only those law firms that offer visa sponsorship to international applicants. It is estimated that of the approximately 5500 training contracts available, the ones left for international students upon filtering, narrow down to about 1000.[3] That reduces the chances for international students to an extremely scanty 3.3%. Needless to say, these law firms are also mostly the top law firms in the country where the competition to secure a training contract is at the maximum.

Therefore, the competition is not fair for international students in securing a training contract.

However, does this mean that it is impossible for international students to get a training contract? The answer to this is also NO.

Apart from the problem of visa sponsorship, international students also find themselves amidst a number of other challenges that they need to address in order to conquer. A change of mindset is required to familiarise oneself with the recruitment process because unlike in home countries, where recruitment mainly happens in the final year, the large firms in the UK recruit two years in advance. Therefore, the preparatory work should start from Year 1 to manage well researched and high quality applications to send out by Year 3.[4] Leaving this work for Year 3 or LLM is bound to induce stress and panic, and will also impact your ability to submit high-quality applications.[5]

Does that mean you should get disheartened and give up thinking you have no chance? Not at all! Instead, take the challenge in stride and give it your best possible shot. Evaluate your skills and objectively consider what skills you have, those you need to develop and what skills you can prove. Self-reflection leads to personal development and one should always understand where they need to improve upon.

There are some tips that would aid you immensely in what seems like an uphill battle.

  • Networking: Use open days and on-campus career events to their full potential by meeting people and building a strong network.Make genuine, valuable connections with people and do not shy away in asking for help. People are a lot more helpful than we give them credit for.
  • Every Experience Counts: Any skills acquired and learnt during any legal or non-legal work experience makes a difference. It also gives a topic of conversation to recruiters to get to know you better.
  • Present your International status as strength- Being fluent in different languages, getting along well with people from different cultural backgrounds, maintaining your cool and poise even when constantly kept out of your comfort zone are some skills that need to be revealed and not concealed.[6]

Therefore, one needs to keep a calm mind and do whatever it takes, if becoming a solicitor is truly what you aspire. Because to quote Ayn Rand, “The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.”


The Legists Content Team

[1] Higher Education Student Statistics: UK, 2018/19 <> accessed 26 May 2021

[2] Billy Sexton, ‘How hard is it to get a training contract?’ (24 February 2021) <> accessed 26 May 2021

[3] Katie King, ‘A ‘golden ticket’ to training contract glory, or losing its shine? Legal Cheek explores the Oxbridge law degree’ (Legal Cheek, 10 May 2018)<> accessed 27 May 2021

[4] Thomas Devine, ‘How To Secure a Training Contract in London as an International Student?’ (Global Lawyers Connect, 13 May 2020) <> accessed 27 May 2021

[5] ibid

[6] Antony Cooke, ‘How do you become a lawyer if you're an international student?’ (Chambers Student, April 2016) <> accessed 27 May 2021



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