‘If The Firm Was a Person, How Would You Describe Them?

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Now that he’s finished the GDL, David Woodall finally has some time to sample the delights of law firms’ training contract application forms.

The GDL is over. Stressful, difficult, but worth it, hopefully…

I keep telling myself that even if I’ve failed and have wasted thousands of pounds, at least I have a little legal knowledge which might come in handy in the future (at the very least for picking out legal mistakes in crime dramas).

It’s all out of my hands now, though. I did what I could (not helped by National Rail, which delivered me 27 minutes late for one exam; three more minutes and I wouldn’t have been allowed in, and I wasn’t given extra time at the end). So the next stage on the road to lawyerhood beckons: the training contract application process and the LPC.

Dealing with the latter first, there is simply no way I can justify spending £20,000 total on LPC fees and living expenses without a job to go to at the end of it. I would be financially crippling myself for life – so for me, no LPC this September…

I imagine many people reading this will have done at least a few TC applications, and will be working hard to complete as many as possible now before the deadlines in July – not least because it’s nigh on impossible to do them while revising, as these applications are, for lack of a better word, hardcore.

Each application is going to take at least a day no matter how much information about yourself you have prepared in advance. What do you like about the firm? What differentiates our firm from others? If the firm was a person, how would you describe them? (Actual question from an online form.) The same questions crop up, but every time they require an in-depth, essay-style answer.

As an open question to all postgraduate students, former or current: do you feel this process is easier for undergraduates?

I believe it is. Just how does a postgraduate student, in the middle of exams, holding down a full-time job (and for one lady in my class – having a baby mid-exam period) find the time to prepare a detailed and insightful answer to a TC application question?

In contrast, the undergraduates that I know, while also in the middle of exams, do not need a full time job. They have part-time evening and weekend roles, and this is supplemented by student loans to which postgraduate students are not entitled. Thus, every undergraduate student has additional time to do these applications, and do them well. Moreover, they have some legal know-how to show off from their first and second years of university – something which students embarking upon a GDL don’t have.

But, then, GDLers have that extra bit of life experience, which law firms and chambers seem to like. Of course, that also tends to make us more aware of the risks, and certainly my biggest fear right now is what happens if I don’t secure a training contract or pupillage. There are other options available: my new qualification has given me some improved analytical, research and writing skills and I might try applying for charities, writing jobs or look at going into PR. But my ambition remains to become a lawyer.

So I’ll continue to nervously await those GDL results.

David Woodall is currently studying the Graduate Diploma in Law. He writes regularly for the Huffington Post.



Might I suggest less time complaining about your lot on here and more time doing applications may be in order.

Also why didn’t you do a law degree at undergraduate level if they have it so much easier? Or did the inspiration to become a lawyer only come to you subsequently?



Firstly, Thank you for taking the time to read and comment – its always a pleasent surprise.

As to the complaining bit – perhaps you have a point, but I do enjoy it, and it never takes too long. I didn’t do law at undergraduate level as I simply did not know what I wanted to do. Like a lot of 18yr olds, I just picked something I thought I would enjoy, rather than with any career focus in mind (the economy was fine at the time). I did not know, nor had I ever met any lawyers to get a feel for their work, so the idea of doing law at that time never crossed my mind.

After graduating, I had a number of jobs which got me working in and around London, where I first met some lawyers – and it hit me that what they were doing was more interesting, and rewarding than what I was doing. So I worked extra hours and saved up (£6000+) to do the GDL, so that I might make a successful career switch. However, now at the end of the course, and faced with enormous application forms, I have found that the time to do them is minimal as I have equally important things to do i.e. working to pay rent, bills, etc, etc – and I find this to be the case for my post-graduate peers.

Knowing some undergrads as I do, and having spoken to them, they are able to set aside two to three days a week to write these applications, whilst I find I only have Sundays. Which, without repeating the post, is what led me to the idea that Undergrads have it easier during application time than post-grads.


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