With the first months of law school notoriously busy, students should be starting the early phases of the training contract and pupillage application processes this month, advises University of Law careers chief Bridget Lavin
It’s no secret that City law firms favour candidates who engage with them from the start of the graduate recruitment cycle in October: meeting them at law fairs, attending their open days before ideally going on to do one of the vac schemes from which a large proportion of trainees are recruited.
Similarly, barristers’ chambers like students with Inns of Court scholarships — the application deadline for which this year is Friday 7 November. To bag one of these awards requires considerable background knowledge of the basics of the bar.
The problem faced by students is that the first term of law school or university tends to be very busy, particularly on short courses like the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL), the two-year condensed LLB, the Legal Practice Course (LPC) and the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC). Amid the flood of academic work, there is little time for careers research and application form filling. “Students are in overload at the beginning of term. Which is why they need to think strategically,” says University of Law head of London careers Bridget Lavin.
“The sooner you get started the better,” she continues. “Bear in mind that ideally you want your application to be getting close to being ready to send when applications for winter vac schemes open in October. From this point I recommend that students treat their training contract/pupillage search like another module of their course and in so doing devote time each week to application forms and other career-related activities.”
In a graduate legal job market that is showing some signs of tentative recovery, but is still tough, it should perhaps be no surprise that Lavin is inundated with wannabe lawyers asking for advice even during the off season.
“It’s August, but I’m pretty much full booked,” she says. “OK, some appointments are for assistance with training contract interviews, but several are for preliminary help with applications. It’s a good idea to be an early bird.”
Listen to Legal Cheek editor Alex Aldridge’s conversation with Bridget (pictured) in full in the podcast below.