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By Flora Duguid on

Law graduate Flora Duguid isn’t ready to fly the white flag yet in her quest for a training contract

Universities have seen the largest fall in applications to study law in over 30 years.  A glimmer of hope for us wannabe lawyers?  Still, as recently as last year LexisWeb reported that 35 people ‘shop’ for every one training contract. This equates to each student having a 2.9% chance of success. But, then, JK Rowling’s Harry Potter was turned down by twelve publishing houses…

I’m surviving. Just. I’ve survived my fair share of daunting vacation schemes. I’ve survived holding my drink, balancing a plate of the most difficult-to-eat delicacies while participating in a ‘chat’ about the spending review. I’ve survived the bear pit of group interviews and endured simultaneous five partner interrogations.

In fact, I would go as far as saying that I am a connoisseur at writing CVs and cover letters. With the recent statistics released by LexisWeb, has my motivation plummeted? No – if anything, it has grown. I now know specifically what I want, as opposed to following my fellow law students. And I have learnt a great deal en route.

The most important lesson learnt: keep calm and carry on. Yes, it is easy to say, and of course rejections are difficult. But I really do believe that nothing is bad practice, and you learn most from your mistakes. Cliché, but so true. For example, as a fresh-faced first year student I was baffled by the list of benefits on offer from firms. As a Liverpool fan, I was excited to see a ‘season ticket’ on the list.  Thankfully, my father informed me prior to interview not to expect to attend a football game, but rather a not-so-exciting, albeit equally valuable, loan for travel.

No experience is a bad experience, although it may certainly feel like one at the time. At a dinner hosted by a law firm, I was presented with a baseless champagne flute in one hand and a plate of difficult-to-eat dinner in the other. Who serves peas and langoustines at a standing dinner!? Was this an undercover test?

On the surface, I was trying to uphold a conversation about the ‘credit crunch’. On the inside, I was questioning my etiquette: do I scoop the peas or do I meticulously pierce every pea onto the fork? Do I peel the shell or just consume head to tail?

I glanced around and unsurprisingly many fellow diners had plates piled high with unwanted seafood. I did see a few crustaceans cleverly discarded in napkins later that evening. There were obviously TC veterans present.

Training contract hawks – you are not alone. Keep confident, keep focused and keep feeding your TC-hunger! Seize every opportunity, you’ll learn more and undoubtedly you will succeed. (In case you’re wondering, I pierced pea-by-pea.  And I left the langoustines. Recommendation to prospective diners: tick the ‘seafood allergy’ box!)

Flora Duguid is a Leeds University law graduate. She is currently working as a legal adviser at the Citizens Advice Bureau while applying for training contracts at London law firms. Flora blogs at Lady of Law

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