As application season closes we help aspiring lawyers ace the next step of the process
With it approaching that time of year when aspiring lawyers are being invited to assessment centres and interviews, Legal Cheek’s future trainee solicitors have put together their top tips for different tasks they faced when applying for training contracts.
General top tips
One of the best pieces of advice we were given when we were applying is that this stage of the application process is as much about law firms looking for people that they want to work with as it is about showing your skills. Smiling, shaking people’s hands and making sure that you are friendly and polite throughout the day is so important, and could be the difference between you being rejected and progressing to the next stage of the application process.
We know how daunting it can be walking into an assessment centre, especially if you haven’t ever done one before, but remember that the firms are not trying to trip you up with any of the exercises. They are designed to test you on specific things to allow you to show your skills. Think about what each task is looking for and read any information about the day that the firm give you beforehand, as this will help you to be as prepared as you can.
As much as there isn’t normally any specific preparation required by firms for an interview, making sure that you have an idea of what kind of questions could be asked and how you would respond is essential to ensuring that you impress in an interview. There are so many content creators who make videos with examples of different questions and how to answer them, and making sure that you have examples for all of the common competency questions will really help you on the day. Firms will also often have lists of competencies that they look for in their trainees on their website, so using this to practise and write some mock interview answers is a great way to prepare.
Using the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) technique for each of your examples will help to make sure that you include all the information needed, as well as keeping your answers clear and demonstrating how your experiences relate to working as a trainee solicitor. If you have something unique to talk about, don’t be afraid to use it! The examples you use don’t have to law related, and often having something different to other candidates will help you to stand out when the assessors are discussing who they want to progress to the next stage.
When you are approaching a case study, the most important thing is to approach it with a business mindset. Try to think about how law firms work, and make sure that you have regularly read the news to help you understand the current commercial trends, so that you can think about the financial and business implications of anything you’re suggesting. Law firms are often testing the way you think and looking at how you work under time constraints when faced with lots of new information, so don’t panic if you don’t know something! It’s often not as complicated as it seems, and showing that you are interested and engaging with the issues will go a long way.
Equally, if you have to complete a written exercise at the end, make sure that your spelling and grammar are correct, and give yourself time to check over your work to make sure that you haven’t missed anything.
It may seem obvious, but one of the main things that a law firm is testing in a group exercise is your ability to work well in a team. Make sure that you are polite, listen to everyone and make a real effort to include every member of the group in the discussion. Firms love to see people who are respectful of others’ opinions, so building on other people’s points is a great way to show that you listen to others and take on suggestions made by your teammates. They are not looking for someone who talks the most, but someone who contributes well and is aware of those around them.
Timing is also something that you should be aware of during a group exercise. You will normally have a presentation to do at the end, so you need to make sure that you have enough time to prepare and give the presentation. The firm will want to see that you are able to keep on task and manage your own time effectively. Practically speaking, having a watch on the day will make this a lot easier, and will help you to keep track of time.
One final thing…
Our one last piece of advice would be to be confident in yourself! It’s an achievement in itself to get to this stage, and the firm is already interested in you as a candidate if they have invited you to an assessment centre or interview. We know it is easier said than done, but try to relax and use this opportunity to get to know more about the firm and show them what you can do!
The Legal Cheek future trainee solicitors have training contracts at various international and national law firms.