10 ways to boost your chances of securing a training contract during lockdown

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By Aishah Hussain on

Learn a new skill, start a vlog, attend virtual law fairs and write for Legal Cheek — there’s plenty to do

If you’re stuck in lockdown with little to do here’s a handy guide of ten things you could be doing to boost your chances of securing a training contract.

1. Sign-up to attend a virtual law fair

Meet the nation’s leading law firms from your laptop at The Legal Cheek UK Virtual Law Fair Series 2020. The largest legal careers fair in the country, with capacity for 5,000 students, will run throughout the autumn, and enable students to chat, virtually, with trainees, qualified lawyers and graduate recruitment members from over 35 law firms.

It’s a straightforward sign-up process: simply register your details (name, email address, university, course etc.) to reserve your place. Registrations are so far open for September and October this year, with law fairs in November and December soon to be added to the roster. If you’re punting for pupillage, check out our Virtual Pupillage Fairs.

2. Sign-up to attend our virtual vacation scheme

Legal Cheek will be running a virtual vacation scheme this summer in partnership with The University of Law (ULaw). Applications open today, on Friday 29 May. Apply to attend.

The week-long programme, running from 22 until 26 June 2020, is jam-packed with fun and informative sessions for future lawyers whose planning has been disrupted by the coronavirus crisis. There will be a series of short talks, workshops and Q&As with lawyers from leading firms, corresponding case study exercises set by ULaw, as well as an employability expo, wellness breakfast, virtual drinks-do, quiz and DJ(!)

Find out more about the scheme, including speaker details and a schedule for the week. Further speakers will be announced throughout June.

3. Apply to attend virtual student events

Did you know Legal Cheek‘s popular in-person student events have successfully moved online? There have already been events focused on the impact of COVID-19 on future lawyers, and understanding how a global law firm works.

There’s no need to feel FOMO as Legal Cheek has lined up a packed summer roster of virtual student events. Much like our live in-person sessions, each event features a Question Time-style panel discussion chaired by a Legal Cheek journalist, alongside lawyers and other prominent legal figures. There’s then time for virtual networking with the speakers, trainees and members of their graduate recruitment teams in interactive Expo booths. Check out our upcoming careers and commercial awareness events.

4. Brush up on commercial know-how

Now’s as good a time as any to brush up on your commercial know-how. Developing an understanding of how the business world operates is absolutely crucial if you want to be a lawyer. But good for you, you’re reading Legal Cheek, so we can assume you’re already on track.

Legal Cheek reports the daily news impacting law students as well as trainees and junior lawyers in free and easy-to-read articles. You can browse our COVID-19 coverage, and check out the latest info on which law firm schemes have been postponed, cancelled, or gone virtual in view of the virus pandemic.

Other free resources such as BBC News are good to gain a big picture overview on the goings-on of the commercial world. Also give news outlets and their journos a follow on Twitter to incorporate newsy titbits into your daily dose of social media.

And once you’ve come to terms with a particularly thorny legal issue why not consider writing for us? The Legal Cheek Journal accepts blog-style student submissions on any topic so long as it is law-related, and between 800 and 1,500 words. When writing, please bear our guidelines in mind. Your article will be published under your personal byline which is a great addition to your CV.

5. Consider the impact on your chosen practice area

Be sure to include in your reading the likely impact of the coronavirus pandemic on your chosen practice area(s). It’s likely that counter-cyclical practice areas, such as litigation, restructuring and insolvency, will perform well as the economy rebounds from the period of financial decline, much like they did during the last major financial recession in 2008.

Also think of emerging practice areas that could gain traction over the next few years such as renewable energy given the government’s agenda to move towards a greener economy.

The 2020 Legal Cheek Firms Most List

6. Keep track of key graduate recruitment deadlines

Training contract deadline day is fast-approaching — the majority of law firms close for applications in the summer months. Keep on top of upcoming deadlines using our Key Deadlines Calendar, which contains all the major firms (and chambers) graduate recruitment deadlines.

Download the Legal Cheek iPhone and Android apps to get key deadline notifications delivered straight to your phone.

7. Find out about life in a corporate law firm

Training contract hunters wanting to get a head start on applications should check out the 2020 Legal Cheek Firms Most List. Our must-read guide to lawyer life at almost 90 law firms, including the magic and silver circle, US and UK-based global law firms, can be arranged by criteria such as pay, perks and office hours.

Each firm in the list also has a detailed profile with fun and informative titbits shared from our anonymous trainee insiders on what they’re like as a place to work. They’ve been graded, too, on their training, quality of work, work/life balance, canteen, social life, and more.

Our 2020 Chambers Most List is an invaluable careers resource for budding barristers and contains key facts and figures for over 50 sets.

8. Follow legal influencers and vloggers on social media

A number of law students and junior lawyers have taken to YouTube in recent years to ‘vlog’ their journeys into law and share the lessons they learnt along the way.

Established legal YouTube stars Eve Cornwell, a Linklaters trainee solicitor, and Chrissie Wolfe, an Irwin Mitchell junior associate, join new kids on the block Jasmine Brown, a first-year law student at Brighton University, and Ali Obeid, an LSE student and future White & Case trainee solicitor, to share study secrets and tips to nabbing a TC.

Feeling inspired? Why not take the plunge and start your own channel? There’s a lot to be said about the skills you’ll acquire as a result. Think: confidence and commercial savvy just by managing and marketing your own brand. Another great addition for the CV.

9. Learn a new lockdown skill

Why not use the free time you’ll inevitably have during lockdown to upskill? It’s likely to be a talking point during training contract interviews: how did you personally respond to the COVID-19 crisis, and what new skills did you acquire as a result?

There are opportunities to volunteer or work pro bono, virtually, for legal charities, as well as free tutorials online to learn a new language, acquire basic coding skills or master a musical instrument. If you already have one or more of these talents it could be a good basis for starting the aforementioned YouTube channel, and sharing your expertise with subscribers.

10. Put in the hard yards but don’t be too hard on yourself

While it’s important to put in the hard yards, don’t be too hard on yourself. “It’s a pandemic, not a productivity contest. Take care of your mental health and those around you in need first,” is how one LC commenter recently put it

Remember that we’re living through unprecedented times and everyone is in the same boat. So no matter if your exams have been postponed, made ‘pass’ or ‘fail’, or are based on predicted grades — it’s not the be all and end all.

When it comes to training contract applications we imagine law firm graduate recruitment teams to be sympathetic to students’ individual situation. No, you won’t be considered to be the class that was impacted by the coronavirus. Hogan Lovells, for example, issued a statement last month with some positive words of encouragement to TC hunters. “When the time is right for you to think about future employment, we encourage you to tell us your story so we can get to know you,” the statement read.

Stay safe and use this time wisely!

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