Has Training Contract Gloom Become Self-Reinforcing?

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The atmosphere of negativity in the legal profession towards graduate recruitment is getting out of hand, warns law graduate Cathryn Kozlowski

“I’m so sick of all the negative hype about the lack of graduate jobs, I wish someone would just say something positive for once!” a friend – and fellow Manchester University law graduate – confided to me recently. “Maybe then I’d have a little more enthusiasm and confidence in my applications,” she added. What she said got me thinking.

It’s a well-known fact that graduate jobs are not easy to secure, and from a legal industry perspective, we are all highly aware that training contracts don’t grow on trees. The dreaded word “recession” is one we have all grown very familiar with over the last few years, just as we have become used to the constant tone of doom and gloom in the newspaper stories of job cuts and recruitment freezes. But perhaps there is something in my friend’s suggestion that this sort of behaviour has become self-reinforcing.

While it is important for graduates to be aware of the impact of the falling numbers of available jobs so that they can be realistic when making decisions about their future careers, the toxic air of negativity can get to you after a prolonged period of inhalation.

According to their job spec criteria, most firms are looking for graduates with a “can do” approach. The problem is that it’s surprisingly tricky to emanate such positivity when mentally you’re constantly being primed for yet another rejection.

When attending a dinner at Inner Temple last week, the guest speaker, Keele University’s Dr Andrew Francis, the author of ‘At the Edge of Law’, spoke about the significant decrease in the number of training contracts and pupillages available over the last few years. He reinforced his point by reading out some rather disheartening statistics, before wishing all the students good luck in their endeavours. As soon as his speech had finished, an aspiring barrister sat opposite me turned and said sarcastically, “Well that’s made me feel just great, yet more depressing news, just what we needed.”

I know on a personal level that I have completed a number of application forms with a less than enthusiastic attitude, convinced that there is no point as I won’t get it anyway. When I have been more confident and content in the strength of my applications, there have often been far more positive outcomes. Perhaps a small injection of positivity into the air could alter the current unhealthy mood.

Cathryn Kozlowski is a law graduate who is interested in media and criminal law. She is currently working in wine investment, and blogs at Legally-London.

Listen to Cathryn on Legal Cheek‘s #RoundMyKitchenTable podcast three months ago: [buzzsprout episode=”37256″ player=”true”]