I run my own business and I’m worried it will impact my training contract chances

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I don’t want firms to think I won’t accept authority

In the latest instalment in our Career Conundrums series, one training contract-seeker wonders whether graduate recruitment teams will embrace or reject his business-savviness.

“I am a 2:2 law graduate who is now studying the LPC with the LLM with a view to securing a training contract. At the start of 2016, myself and a friend starting running our own tribunal representation business for clients who need representation for benefit appeals. No service in my area does this anymore due to funding and there is a market for it. It’s moving along nicely now and just starting to pick up, but I cannot go any further in terms of business without becoming qualified. The issue I have, other than my academics, is whether running a business will make it less likely that I will be successful in applying. Yes I have more experience, but I’m worried firms might think I cannot accept authority and that I’m only seeking a TC to further my business. My question to readers is: does a firm want to train someone who already has experience of running his own cases independently, etc, or someone they can mould?”

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Are you not seeking a TC to further your business?



This ^



Hi. It’s not that I’m looking for a TC and then going to leave once I’m qualified or anything like that.

Obtaining a TC and going on to qualifying is likely to be the ambition of most students when they undergo a law degree and it certainly was and remains mine.

I think what I have tried to do is take up a very niche area of law that is, from what I can tell, largely ignored by the legal sector.

I wasn’t in a position when I graduated to go straight onto the LPC as Student Finance wasn’t available as it is now and my academics made it very unlikely that I would be successful. I only decided to undergo the LPC in June/July 2017.

Becoming qualified allows me to plan for the future a little easier than my current position. The law around benefits is changing constantly and they have generally become harder for people to obtain in recent years. If, albeit unlikely, a new government reintroduces legal aid or a great deal of money is released and funding becomes available (somehow) for benefit appeals, that would affect my ability to move forward.

Becoming qualified simply provides more options if tides turn.



I wouldn’t worry too much about it.



sick brag brah



Well obviously they do want someone they can ‘mould’ (or, as we say in the industry, ‘train’). Plenty of TC applicants have done casework of their own, no of course this wouldn’t be seen as a minus. If you act like you’re too good to be trained it would be, clearly.



Pick the right firm. I’ve owned a small business, as well being an officer in uniformed service. Some firms told me straight-up that they were worried about my taking instruction well, or that I would be bored with the tasks and level of supervision they give trainees. I eventually found a city firm that seems to be genuinely diverse, and value experience, and doesn’t have a particular type of clone they want as a trainee. Target your applications appropriately.



Irwin Mitchell I presume.



Hire a Solicitor to your company, have him becoming training principle, get ABS license for your firm, have him supervise you for training contract.

You won’t learn anything, but it should satisfy the regulatory requirement.



Edit: Slightly more ‘clean’ way to do it: contract with a local regional firm whereby your business will provide services under their supervision in exchange for a TC, and return on profit. Leave in contractual provision to re-assess position in couple of years time when TC complete. If you then wish to continue with them you can discuss formal merger and taking on partner status.



Very good advice



Humblebrag spotted


Baron Jeff.

Isn’t this something CILEX could help you with?



you got a 2.2 so should probs just stick to your business



Ever heard of the saying “if you have nothing nice to say, don’t say it”!!!



Hi all. I’m the guy who sent this in to LC. Thank you all for the comments.

I hadn’t considered contracting with a firm. I know of only one firm within 50 miles that will even look at social entitlement so it could be a new market for established firms working on a CFA/DBA basis.

I have looked at CILEx however, the Qualifying Employment aspect to qualification requires a solicitor/barrister/fellow to be supervising the work.

Although I lack the academics (as so handily pointed out by the ‘you got a 2:2 so stick to your business’ comment) I have tried the best I can to make myself stand out to potential employers. The business, I hope, helps with that.

Note that I am writing anonymously so I would hope this isn’t seen as a marketing attempt or a brag. Neither the company or I are identified.

As an aside, is there any reason why firms generally don’t engage in social entitlement work? Since LASPO, the legal aid may have gone for First Tier work but there is a market.

Thanks again.



I don’t want to burst anyone’s bubble, but getting a ‘top TC’ isn’t the golden ticket some suggest. Full disclosure – I am 1.5 years into my training contract at a very good MC firm.

Truthfully, the work is often mindbogglingly dull. AI, or a trained monkey, could do what I do. I did pretty well in my degree (double first from Cambridge) but I honestly felt more intellectually challenged working as an admin assistant for a small business in Cambridge.

What you’re doing now sounds much more interesting. Keep doing that.



Surely this is attractive to a firm? You can bring a practice with you and clients with you which is unique for a trainee. If you want to keep the business alive you can work for a high street firm or a regional outfit where your experience will complement their business. On the other hand, if you’ve got a passion for m&a or derivatives and you really want to go to the city then your experience will certainly help (I’d dig around to avoid those firms which are rigid on academics). Frankly you’ve got more to offer than most 22 year old LPC grads.



I’ve not met a private practice lawyer secure enough to hire someone better than them… (even with a 2:2)



It’s not the experience but how you apply and demonstrate your “commercial awareness”. I was in a similar position but secured a TC



your 2:2 does create problems but you will know that, also a meaningless LLM from an LPC counts for little – its not seen as on par with a pure LLM so don’t pin your hopes on that covering for a 2:2. Your business will count for little to a large firm but the skills derived from it may be valued if you can evidence them on paper and in interview. I have sat on panels – the skills are what would interest me , not the business itself. A smaller firm may find your bolt on business as very attractive but remember – you should always aim to do your training contract at the best firm you can and some firms may actually require you to jettison your business. Make sure your business is properly insured & complies with any necessary regulatory framework – I would be all over this in interview (and would have checked in advance).



I had my own business whilst at University for 3 years and was successful in getting a Training Contract with a top firm this year. Use it to your advantage! Show how it increased your commercial awareness, organisation and communication skills. It takes a certain type of individual to run a business whilst studying.
Be clear in the gross sales or profitability – give figures!!
Just make sure that it is very clear that it is not your long-term goal and instead pursuing a career in law is – otherwise what is the point in giving you the TC?



As said again, could you not just hire a qualified solicitor to supervise you through a TC?


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