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Before attending university, the toughness of getting a training contract is not realised by many, the top law firms have 1000s of applicants for only a handful of training contracts. However, not having a training contract when you leave university should not be a concern, it is completely natural to be in this situation and most graduates are (so there is no need to stress), this article will outline the choices you have as a graduate without a training contract.
The first thing you should do is assess your applications and your CV in order to highlight weaknesses, perhaps this is with your experiences or with the way you answer questions in the interview stage. Then you should use some time to turn these strengths into weaknesses through getting more experience! As law firms only take training contract applications once a year, it is important to spend the time in between applications by improving yourself as a legal professional and as a stronger application candidate, one way this can be done is by applying to and working in a law firm in other roles.
Paralegal and Legal Secretary roles are great ways to gain some legal experience and expand your skillset. These roles are often less competitive and face less stringent application processes and during these roles you will be exposed to real law firm scenarios. There will be times where you have to work in teams, alone, under pressure, or perhaps doing tasks you are not used to; however, these are all things you will also experience when you get a training contract so it will prepare you well for that. Furthermore, oftentimes training contract applications have questions such as “when was a time you worked successfully in a team?” and having these experiences from legal environments will strengthen your answers!
Also, working in a legal role at a law firm is a great way to show passion for that firm, also, some law firms have fast-track options for their paralegals and their training contract applications.
The job role you take does not even have to be legal based, as long as you are having experiences in any employment then it is beneficial, oftentimes skills are transferable into law so as long as you are improving your skillset then you will be a stronger applicant next time around!
You could also spend some time strengthening your application skills, almost half of the applicants are rejected with the written application so ensuring you get this part right is essential. The main problem law firm applications face is that they are not tailored enough, it is important to tailor your application to that specific firm so, therefore, spend this time learning as much as you can about the firm through:
Taking the Legal Practice Course (LPC) is also an option; however, it does present a risk due to the high costs and that it does not guarantee you a training contract afterward. However, it could help you improve yourself. But it is also important to note that law firms do not require an LPC as they will fund it for you, and it will be carried out before your training contract, so its usefulness really is limited.
Overall, the best thing to do if you do not have a training contract is to get stuck in and start gaining experience, whether this is in a legal role or not is not super important. Any experience will help your future chances at a training contract as long you are developing skills and turning weaknesses into strengths. Furthermore, it is essential for you to improve your knowledge of the law firms you are applying to in order to make your applications as strong as possible by tailoring them!
Check out the Legists ‘Law Jobs’ section for any training contract offers to kickstart your legal career
In early March 2023, TELUS Health released its report into the public domain which seems to highlight the increasing worries from the age twenty demographic when reporting mental health issues to
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