Ask 3 future trainees (Magic & Silver Circle, International Elite) ANYTHING! *New TCLA Team Members*

Dheepa

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  • Jan 20, 2019
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    Hi @Dheepa

    I hope this message finds you well.

    I am in a similar position as you were in in second year - I have completed one vacation scheme this year and have not been offered a TC afterwards. I am gutted, but I don't want to waste any time and want to start prepping early for the 2021/2022 application cycle. What advice do you have for me? What did you do that felt changed the game for you and allowed you to score 3 TCs!?

    I'd really appreciate some insight and advice!

    Hey Dwight,

    I'm incredibly sorry to hear about the rejection. I still remember how awful I felt in second year but trust me when I say it's more common not to get the TC in second year than it is to get it. In terms of what you can do for the next cycle, I've written about my advice for this situation quite extensively in the post below. I've also gone ahead and bolded the most important changes I made going into my third year.

    1. Application strategy: My first cycle of VS apps was haphazard at best. I didn't have a clear application strategy and applied to literally any firm I had vaguely heard of. Not to mention my hatred of the WG test (from applying to first year schemes) meant I tried my best to stay away from firms that used testing of any kind (which is really as silly of a strategy as it sounds). I really only sent out about four good quality written applications, and received two interview invites. The other 6 I sent were all extremely last minute rushed applications.

    My second application cycle I started really early on. In the summer of my second year, I had already come up with a list of 10 firms I was applying to and already started researching these firms and collating the information into documents. For firms whose VS applications I could expect to remain unchanged, I actually started drafting my applications. I also created a detailed summary (at around 200 words) of all my work experiences and really fine-tuned the descriptions of what I did so that they demonstrated transferrable skills. This made my job a lot easier for when I had to key in information into the applications. One huge difference for me when applying in my second year was my involvement with the Aspiring Solicitors Aspire Programme and the SEO London Corporate Law Programme. Applications for both typically open in July and the plethora of open days/networking opportunities I could access without having to apply separately, and the application review services (Note: only for their sponsor firms) was incredibly incredibly helpful.

    2. Case studies/assessment centres: One of my feedback points post failed VS was that I lacked analytical skill in my case study. I really developed on this by practicing a lot of different types of case studies. My TCLA Premium subscription (and I'm not just saying this because I work with the team now :oops:) really helped me because of the detailed law firm profiles and advice on case studies on the premium section of the forum. I must have re-did the two sample case studies Jaysen created about 6/7 times that year, just to practice my writing style, structure and level of analysis. Jaysen's masterclasses on M&A (a super frequent topic of case studies) and private equity were also incredibly helpful.

    3. Commercial awareness: I used to think commercial awareness was just being knowledgeable about socio-political and economic developments. Only in my final year did I realise it was much more about your way of thinking and analysing a news story. I think this is a mindset that is best developed by daily exposure to news stories. For me the biggest resources that helped me were the Financial Times Daily News Briefing podcast on Spotify and TCLA's Commercial Newsletter. The newsletter in particular (again not a sponsored post :oops:) is great because it does some of the thinking for you i.e already tying news stories to which teams/departments at law firms will see an uptick or reduction in work. Another good way of approaching commercial awareness is realising that partners rarely ever want to trip you up on purpose. Start with your application, did you mention interest in a particular industry, a particular deal, have you had work experience in other areas - what are the biggest issues affecting those areas? By the time I walked into my fourth interview in my final year, I was so used to the commercial questions being asked having to do with things on my app. Of course you can also expect more general questions on big issues, but that's where the resources I mentioned come into it!

    In terms of game changing things that led to the three TCs, to be very brutally honest in my opinion while technical ability is 80% of what it takes, securing multiple TC offers (or actually even one TC offer) is also about (1) leveraging your unique experiences as much as possible and (2) being likeable and charismatic. Due to how subjective both these things are, I can't actually give the most concrete advice on them but I would recommend thinking about the following things as a starting point:

    a) What experiences do I have that make me stand out? How can I include these in my applications/interviews? How can I convey what these experiences say about my character and personality?
    b) How can I hold my own in conversations with partners? Do I feel confident enough to make appropriate jokes/to ask partners about themselves/to raise non-work related questions?
     

    Dwight

    Legendary Member
    Dec 21, 2019
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    Hey Dwight,

    I'm incredibly sorry to hear about the rejection. I still remember how awful I felt in second year but trust me when I say it's more common not to get the TC in second year than it is to get it. In terms of what you can do for the next cycle, I've written about my advice for this situation quite extensively in the post below. I've also gone ahead and bolded the most important changes I made going into my third year.



    In terms of game changing things that led to the three TCs, to be very brutally honest in my opinion while technical ability is 80% of what it takes, securing multiple TC offers (or actually even one TC offer) is also about (1) leveraging your unique experiences as much as possible and (2) being likeable and charismatic. Due to how subjective both these things are, I can't actually give the most concrete advice on them but I would recommend thinking about the following things as a starting point:

    a) What experiences do I have that make me stand out? How can I include these in my applications/interviews? How can I convey what these experiences say about my character and personality?
    b) How can I hold my own in conversations with partners? Do I feel confident enough to make appropriate jokes/to ask partners about themselves/to raise non-work related questions?
    Thanks a lot for this @Dheepa.

    I definitely agree with your last point about showing you personality off and shining throughout the VS. At the end of the day, partners are human and they will remember these moments in the interview/VS.

    Can I just ask - what specific strategy did you take when researching firms during the summer period?
     

    futuretraineesolicitor

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    Dec 14, 2019
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    Hey guys. Hope you are doing well. Can anyone please point me to a resource that discusses all the international strategies that a law firm uses to expand internationally? I was reading up on Linklaters and it turned out that it merged with a few firms, had got into an alliance with a few others and is best-friends with a few other firms. I really don't understand how all these three modes of expansion differ, it would be great if you could please point me to some book/article for this, if any?

    Thanks.
     

    tkhkat

    Star Member
    Feb 2, 2021
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    Its polite to call graduate recruitment and say you will be declining the offer, and then follow up with an email as they will need something in writing. Everything should go through Grad Rec as they will then coordinate telling other people within the firm alongside the decisions of other candidates.

    Its nothing to worry about - the firm deals with this all the time.
    Just an email will suffice - they will usually ask to arrange a follow up call to discuss your reasons. There’s no right or wrong way to phrase the email as well. Personally I just said something along the lines of “I will be declining the offer as I have decided to accept another offer at a different firm. It was a really hard decision to make and I would like to thank you again for considering me and making me the offer” Obviously I tried to phrase it better than that haha but that was the gist of it. Hope that helps!
    Thank you Dheepa & Jessica, really appreciate your advice! ☺️
     

    Dheepa

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  • Jan 20, 2019
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    Hey guys. Hope you are doing well. Can anyone please point me to a resource that discusses all the international strategies that a law firm uses to expand internationally? I was reading up on Linklaters and it turned out that it merged with a few firms, had got into an alliance with a few others and is best-friends with a few other firms. I really don't understand how all these three modes of expansion differ, it would be great if you could please point me to some book/article for this, if any?

    Thanks.

    Hey, I don't think I know of a specific resource on this unfortunately. You can check out the first half an hour or so of L.M.'s lecture in the TCLA's Law Firms as a Business course as he does cover some of this and the pros and cons. As I understand it, I think there are three predominate models:

    1. One firm - The firm opens up its own offices everywhere. US firms tend to operate on this basis.
    2. Swiss verein - These are when firms share the name and branding but not necessarily profit pools. DLA Piper, Hogan Lovells and Baker McKenzie operate this way.
    3. Alliances/Best friend models - A lot of law firms that operate broadly under 1) and 2) still have local alliances in jurisdictions where foreign lawyers are not allowed to practice. For example, India, Indonesia some parts of the Middle East.
    Law firms don't necessarily stick to only one strategy and may adopt whichever they see fit. Instead of trying to understand each model in isolation, I'd encourage you to try to understand why a firm might pursue different strategies in different regions. For example, alliances happen when there are legal restrictions on practicing in jurisdictions, mergers may happen when a firm wants to open an office directly but also wants to tap into local talent immediately, etc. Hope that helps!
     

    futuretraineesolicitor

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    Hey, I don't think I know of a specific resource on this unfortunately. You can check out the first half an hour or so of L.M.'s lecture in the TCLA's Law Firms as a Business course as he does cover some of this and the pros and cons. As I understand it, I think there are three predominate models:

    1. One firm - The firm opens up its own offices everywhere. US firms tend to operate on this basis.
    2. Swiss verein - These are when firms share the name and branding but not necessarily profit pools. DLA Piper, Hogan Lovells and Baker McKenzie operate this way.
    3. Alliances/Best friend models - A lot of law firms that operate broadly under 1) and 2) still have local alliances in jurisdictions where foreign lawyers are not allowed to practice. For example, India, Indonesia some parts of the Middle East.
    Law firms don't necessarily stick to only one strategy and may adopt whichever they see fit. Instead of trying to understand each model in isolation, I'd encourage you to try to understand why a firm might pursue different strategies in different regions. For example, alliances happen when there are legal restrictions on practicing in jurisdictions, mergers may happen when a firm wants to open an office directly but also wants to tap into local talent immediately, etc. Hope that helps!
    Thank you so much for your answer.
     

    Dheepa

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  • Jan 20, 2019
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    Thanks a lot for this @Dheepa.

    I definitely agree with your last point about showing you personality off and shining throughout the VS. At the end of the day, partners are human and they will remember these moments in the interview/VS.

    Can I just ask - what specific strategy did you take when researching firms during the summer period?

    Hey Dwight,

    Sorry I missed your question here. I didn't have a specific strategy per se actually. I just spent some time thinking about what kind of work/practice areas I actually liked and what kind of culture/training was important to me. The list of about 10 firms that I came up with fir my requirements on both these points. I think that's where I would recommend you start as well. Once you've made the list, start researching the two or three firms you're most interested in. I made a Word document with links and excerpts from different articles etc. Also consider if you'd like to meet these firms at Open Days/Law Fairs and find out the dates for these. Most of my strongest apps were apps to firms that I had attended events with, because you really do get better information directly from the source, so again I'd highly recommend doing this!
     

    nkji500

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  • Jul 13, 2021
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    Hi,

    I hope you are all doing well. Because of a death in the family I wasn't able to properly focus on securing vacation schemes and such in my second year of university. I'm a recent graduate and have secured a paralegal role at a local firm. Do you think not having vacation scheme experience will hinder me significantly? Or is it possible to leverage my 'real world' paralegal experience on my application?

    thank you in advance.
     

    Jessica Booker

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    Hi,

    I hope you are all doing well. Because of a death in the family I wasn't able to properly focus on securing vacation schemes and such in my second year of university. I'm a recent graduate and have secured a paralegal role at a local firm. Do you think not having vacation scheme experience will hinder me significantly? Or is it possible to leverage my 'real world' paralegal experience on my application?

    thank you in advance.
    Plenty of people secure TCs without a VS to their name. I wouldn’t worry about it unless you are wanting to only apply to firms who only recruit from VS.
     

    pbyrne

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    Jan 15, 2021
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    Hi everyone, hope you're well. I have an online assessment day coming up, and I was wondering if you could recommend any good places for practice case studies/written exercises? I've already looked at Jacob's Monday articles series on them which was really helpful, but feel like I could benefit from seeing a few more examples. Also any tips generally?! Thanks in advance.
     

    futuretraineesolicitor

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    Dec 14, 2019
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    Hi everyone, hope you're well. I have an online assessment day coming up, and I was wondering if you could recommend any good places for practice case studies/written exercises? I've already looked at Jacob's Monday articles series on them which was really helpful, but feel like I could benefit from seeing a few more examples. Also any tips generally?! Thanks in advance.
    Hey, please look for Patricia's answer on this page. She has pointed to every written assessment material that exists on the forum.

     

    pbyrne

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    Jan 15, 2021
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    Hey, please look for Patricia's answer on this page. She has pointed to every written assessment material that exists on the forum.

    Thank you so much!
     

    pbyrne

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    Jan 15, 2021
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    Hi all, hope you're well. I have an interview coming up, and while reviewing my application form as part of my prep, I realised I've made a stupid mistake in that in one of my work experience sections, I've accidentally put information from one job under the heading of another (so I've replicated paralegal work for one firm twice, but not put in my freelance work except under the title of 'freelancer'.) I've nailed my work experience descriptions so I tend to copy and paste, and was doing this in a hurry as I work full time so haven't had loads of time for this year's applications. I'm assuming someone will have spotted this, but it wasn't brought up on my first round interview. My freelance experience is something I would want to talk about in my interview, but it's pretty mortifying to have to point out that I haven't actually described it - particularly as my freelance work is editing/proofreading 🤦‍♀️

    Is there a way I can acknowledge the error and talk about my freelance experience without them thinking I'm a complete idiot/ruining my chances of the TC?
     

    Jessica Booker

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    Hi all, hope you're well. I have an interview coming up, and while reviewing my application form as part of my prep, I realised I've made a stupid mistake in that in one of my work experience sections, I've accidentally put information from one job under the heading of another (so I've replicated paralegal work for one firm twice, but not put in my freelance work except under the title of 'freelancer'.) I've nailed my work experience descriptions so I tend to copy and paste, and was doing this in a hurry as I work full time so haven't had loads of time for this year's applications. I'm assuming someone will have spotted this, but it wasn't brought up on my first round interview. My freelance experience is something I would want to talk about in my interview, but it's pretty mortifying to have to point out that I haven't actually described it - particularly as my freelance work is editing/proofreading 🤦‍♀️

    Is there a way I can acknowledge the error and talk about my freelance experience without them thinking I'm a complete idiot/ruining my chances of the TC?
    I think if it comes up in conversation, in that you are asked to describe your freelance experience, then you can address it and say you spotted the mistake on your application.
     

    Dwight

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    Dec 21, 2019
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    Hi @Dheepa,

    I hope you are doing well.

    You mentioned in an earlier response that you wrote concise 200ish word responses for each of your work experiences for applications?

    Sometimes I feel like I am not writing this section correctly or getting the most of my experiences on paper.

    How do you go about writing the work experience section? I would really appreciate a full overview on this.

    Thank you.
     

    Dheepa

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  • Jan 20, 2019
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    Hi @Dheepa,

    I hope you are doing well.

    You mentioned in an earlier response that you wrote concise 200ish word responses for each of your work experiences for applications?

    Sometimes I feel like I am not writing this section correctly or getting the most of my experiences on paper.

    How do you go about writing the work experience section? I would really appreciate a full overview on this.

    Thank you.

    Hey so there's no fixed way of doing this well but I wrote about my approach here. Jacob has also written about his approach on the same thread so hopefully seeing the different examples will be helpful
     
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    Dwight

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    Dec 21, 2019
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    Hi @Dheepa, @Neville Birdi, @Jacob Miller,

    I have been developing a habit of reading the news more often for my goal of securing a TC next year. Therefore, I was wondering whether there is something (or more) that I could do/incorporate in my daily reading to maximise growing my commercial awareness. Particularly when it comes to reading news articles on FT or BBC News, for example. Should I be doing something while or after having read a certain story. To be specific, I have been reading and listening to the FT News Briefing.

    Also, what are your opinions on courses and virtual internships?

    I want to make sure my commercial awareness is where it needs to be before the upcoming cycle!
     
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    futuretraineesolicitor

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    Hi @Dheepa, @Neville Birdi, @Jacob Miller,

    I have been developing a habit of reading the news more often for my goal of securing a TC next year. Therefore, I was wondering whether there is something (or more) that I could do/incorporate in my daily reading to maximise growing my commercial awareness. Particularly when it comes to reading news articles on FT or BBC News, for example. Should I be doing something while or after having read a certain story. To be specific, I have been reading and listening to the FT News Briefing.

    Also, what are your opinions on courses and virtual internships?

    I want to make sure my commercial awareness is where it needs to be for the upcoming cycle!
    Same question. A lot of people also advise to take notes after you read the news but IMO i just don't think that it's a practical idea. So, could you please explain, what is it that needs to be done after we are done reading a particular news article?

    Thanks in advance.
     
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    Jessica Booker

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    Not any of the future trainees, but my view is that you don’t need to take notes, you just need to analyse the article as you read it. Really question why things have happened, who has been involved etc. You may also want to read around the story. For instance, if you are reading the story on a major website or publication, try to see if there is anything on other sources, for instance the law firm’s website, the “clients” website, alternative sources (eg if you are reading a traditionally more right wing newspaper, maybe find a source that is known to be the other side of the political spectrum). Being able to consider aspects from different perspectives is an important quality in a lawyer, and so looking at varied sources can often help you develop broader perspectives.
     

    porquenolosdos

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    Aug 26, 2021
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    Hi everyone,

    I’ve been a long time user of TCLA (some of you may be more familiar with my old username Ren97) and am really excited to be taking on this role with Naomi and Jacob. I’m currently taking a much-needed year out before my LPC and TC with Baker McKenzie in 2022.

    By way of background, I completed my first vacation scheme with Slaughter and May in the summer of my second year. I unfortunately did not manage to convert that into a training contract. As an international non-EU student, the anxiety of only having one more year to secure my dream job really kicked in after that. Although after some reflection I did realise that the rejection was probably for the best (as I had my doubts about whether I would have been happy at the firm) I had a hard time shaking off the huge knock in confidence and the increased self-doubt that rejection gave me.

    When I applied again my second cycle, I was far pickier with the firms I applied to. I only applied to firms that I really felt had a culture that I fit in with and had a strong emphasis on diversity. I also realised that part of the reason I was unsuccessful in my previous application cycle was that I was portraying what I thought firms wanted in trainees rather than being my authentic self. So I made sure that every interview I walked into, I really let my interviewers get to know me and started to focus on talking about more personal achievements and experiences that I’d had thus far. This approached worked wonders for me. In my second cycle, I secured three vacation schemes with Latham & Watkins, Baker McKenzie and NRF and was lucky enough to received TC offers from all three.

    My two biggest takeaways from the TC process is that firstly securing a TC is not an innate talent or ability some people have and others don’t. Instead it’s something that involves practice and honing skills (application writing skills, interview skills etc). TCLA was instrumental in helping me develop these skills and I really hope to be able to give back to the community that helped me. Secondly, rejection really does mean that there is a better firm, a better fit waiting for you. If your journey is longer/harder, it just means your calling is higher and I hope to be able to remind anyone struggling on the forums of that.

    If anyone has any questions, feel free to fire away! :)
    Hi Dheepa, thanks for the article! Can you please give an example or two of “talking about more personal achievements and experiences”? Thank you!