The dos and don’ts of training contract deadline day

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Seven speedy tips for last-minute TC seekers

With less than 12 hours until the deadline, every hour, every minute, every single second counts towards your final lap of this summer’s training contract competition — the last lap you’ll ever have to do (well, unless you’re unsuccessful of course!). And yet, here you are, procrastinating away on Legal Cheek. Frankly, we’re honoured — and as a sign of gratitude, we’re sharing with you our top dos and don’ts for training contract deadline day.

Don’t give up hope

At your lowest, you will ask yourself questions familiar to all procrastinators: Why did I leave it this late? Why am I not more organised? What’s the point in even submitting this application? Should I just wait until next year, when I’m more prepared? Once you’ve finished your pitiful recital, just remember: law firms have deadlines for a reason. Sure, some take applications on a rolling basis and you may have already missed out. However, you’re not the only one leaving it to the last minute — and employers know that. So, stop your nay-saying and get back to work!

Do your research

Oh, so you’re still here! Well, while we have you, why not make it an educational experience? Law firms are looking for candidates that know them inside and out. From recent big-ticket deals to strategy in the City pay-war and trendy AI initiatives — you should know exactly where your chosen firm sits within the legal market. But how? Check out the Legal Cheek news feed for the latest legal scoops, our busy careers section for tip-top advice and our comprehensive Firms Most List for an in-depth guide to each outfit.

Don’t skip on the H2O

Are your palms sweaty? Knees weak and your arms are heavy? Well, take a moment. Catch your breath. But more importantly, stay hydrated. Water not enough to keep the searing stress at bay? Move onto a cheeky chai latte or a gritty espresso for an express dose of caffeine.

Do take your time

With pressuring piling as the clock relentlessly ticks away to midnight, there will be a temptation to cut corners. What did I get in my GCSEs again? My A-Levels? Did I get a 68 or a 64 on my land law module? Rather than guess your way through important sections, take your time. Don’t forget the small details can make a big difference to graduate recruiters. Otherwise, risk having to back-pedal later down the line.

The 2019 Legal Cheek Firms Most List

Don’t do what you’re doing right now

You heard me. You’ve got until midnight tonight and you’re out there spending your minutes like you ain’t the time-poorest applicant out there. Avoid the temptation to take a ‘it-will-only-be-20-minutes-nap’ and definitely do not seek out inspiration from fictional legal characters. Suits may have provided comfort when skipping your 9am, but Harvey can’t help you now!

Do keep it specific

Last thing law firms are wanting to read are dreary sob-stories about how you’ve always dreamed about being a lawyer since reading your first statute book. Instead, they want to hear about why you want to be a solicitor at their firm. Identify their unique cultural values and then match them to your own — backed up by transferrable skills picked up along the way.

Don’t forget to profread proofread

So you’ve made it to the final hurdle: the submit button. But before you take that ultimate leap, have you proofread your application? Have you cut the waffle and kept it concise? Have you checked the spelling of firm names and got on top of ghastly grammar? There’s a place for applications riddled with bloomers and blunders — and it’s not in the trainee-to-be pile.

The 2019 Legal Cheek Firms Most List



Do: lead a good and useful life.

Don’t: become a solicitor.

BCLP NQ toiler

Why? What other job pays you £75k to keep greased up and braced for constant penetration?


“You’ve got until midnight tonight and you’re out there spending your minutes like you ain’t the time-poorest applicant out there. ”

I.e. stop wasting your time reading a turd of an “article” that contains zero advice and served only for Adam to demonstrate his lacklustre gif choosing skills.

CMS 4th Seat Trainee

Don’t: apply to CMS.


Why? You can end up moving to Skadden or Kirkland after the TC, judging by your experience. I have rejected several US offers and accepted CMS after reading your posts.


“Don’t forget to proofread”

Apt advice, LC. Apt advice…


Firms recruit on a rolling basis so, chances are, they’ve already filled their assessment day/interview spots and you’re too late. Try again next year.


I applied for a TC with CC on deadline day and got an offer. Always better to apply early but irresponsible to suggest there is no point submitting close to the deadline.


Same, applied for a vac scheme in a top US firm a day before deadline, ended up with an offer.


Also same. Got most of my interviews for vac schemes and training contracts on the back of applications submitted after 11pm on deadline day, even 11.59.


I lost two training contract interviews for this reason. I was told that the firms wanted to interview me, however all interview slots had already been filled.

Contrasting that, the firm where I did end up getting the TC was a deadline day application (on New Years Eve no less). So don’t give up hope, but be aware that leaving it to the last minute has damaged your chances.


Follow all of the above advice, then proceed to never adhere to it again in any setting once qualified.

Kirkland NQ

Didn’t realise people had to apply for these things. As is well known, I got the call-up immediately after my first lecture at Harvard after the ‘Land’s Executive Committee received a tip-off regarding an LBO I executed while in prep school.

Irwin Mitchell

Do not forget that we are happy to assist you with your prep school LBOs, now that you have moved past that level.


Don’t you have an ambulance to chase?


Good knowledge of trivia. Alex should issue some badges for the knowledge of LC memes.


Make sure to mention your youtube channel and social media and the number of followers/subscribers you have.


My last insta post got 40 likes. You better believe this tsunami of BDE made it into my last-minute applications to law heavyweights Accutrainee and Devonshires Solicitors.


what about major heavyweights Irwin Mitchell


Slow your roll, big stuff… I said 40 likes, not >45. I know my place.


I’ve only just heard of Accutrainee recently – what are your thoughts guys? Presumably not good based on the above


£25k salary to work in the City, seats based on available secondments so no guarantee you’ll get another one immediately after the current one, and they don’t even have a standalone office – they share floor space at 200 Aldersgate with Cass business school.

Joke of an organisation. One of the HR people was pretty fit though… (JDP where are you?)


Pics or it didn’t happen.


The hilarious bants about Accutrainee paying £25k for a city trainee got deleted. LC, you filthy communists.


They must be a LC sponsor.

Donna from Archives

Do: Wear sunscreen


I made a note to complete my applications early, but would leave disclaimers that the application was completed in 1 hour to indicate proof that I could provide high standards of work in time constrained conditions and then I submitted on deadline day.

Perhaps ruined my chances with some of them, but eventually paid off.

JDP (somehow on the recruitment committee)

Do: Dress to impress.

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