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James Carrabino

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Hi @Jessica Booker hoping for some clarity on this one o_O
Im unsure how to structure a 300 word cover letter because the application also asks for 75 words on 'why this firm'.

1. Im confused as to where to appropriately state how my skills are advantageous to the firm - in the cover letter or the question?
2. If I state my skills in the cover letter (which seems more logical), what format should I go with in writing the cover letter (e.g LAW; FIRM; ME)? And What should I discuss about the firm which will not be in the (very) short answer?

Thank you in advance!
@Raynz I think that the cover letter is very short and so you do not need to spend much time at all discussing the firm, as you already have another question for that. In the firm-specific question you can go into all the unique details about the firm that demonstrate your research of the firm and why you are attracted to them.

In the cover letter, I would introduce yourself and where you are in life right now, before beginning by discussing 'Why Law'.

Then I would devote a small portion towards 'Why Commercial Law' specifically, in which you could possibly draw in broad themes about the firm and how that piques your interest e.g. if it is a large international firm then you can discuss your motivations to work at a large international firm.

Finally, do 'Why Me', including skills and all, and then sign off :)
 
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futuretraineesolicitor

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I wouldn't know at all how much depth they were looking for, but I did not have any legal insight at the time at all so I went into zero depth :)

For example, one firm asked us to do our written task 'as if it were a problem question' and I had no idea what that meant but thought perhaps I was the only one who had no idea - I didn't realise that this was a law student term! So I didn't speak up and just wrote it like an essay...

Another firm's case study relied on knowledge of the concept of corporate legal personality, which I had not encountered before and only learnt about afterwards when discussing the task with another vac schemer (this meant that everything I had said was essentially wrong)!

So it was not a matter of being asked to provide any sort of in-depth legal analysis, it was simply that the task they had given us which they claimed could be done by law and non-law students alike, pre-supposed at least a modicum of legal knowledge in order to be done correctly.

Honestly, it is possible that after many years practising law, whoever set these tasks was completely unaware that the terms they used would be unfamiliar to a non-law student!
Thank you so much for this response, James.
 
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Fr_08

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Hello @Jessica Booker I hope you are doing well.

With regards to the recruitment process of international law firms, although I do appreciate that recruiters try to get the whole picture of a candidate, to what extent A-levels grades (or equivalent) weigh on an candidate's application? If the candidate achieved a 2:1 or a first, but had the A-levels equivalent of ABB (with mitigating circumstances), would the A-levels prevent them from even be considered at all?

Also, I appreciate the concept of RG unis is becoming a bit outdated, but it seems it may still play a role in helping a recruiter reaching a decision about a candidate - and I do appreciate there may be so many different factors that come into play in this. I'm in the process of choosing a university and currently stuck between the University of Aberdeen and the University of York - both for a LLB Law programme (Dual English and Scots law at Aberdeen). Looking up online, I could not really find any information as to whether any Aberdeen Alumni managed to secure a TC with an international law firm or MC firm as opposed to York graduates. Is it a case where perhaps Aberdeen graduates simply do not apply to MC/ international law firms and thus there isn't any data, or they do not just make it through the process at all? Would study Law in Scotland possibly put me in a disadvantaged position as opposed to candidates from other English unis, or better from RG unis such as the University of York? Throughout your career as a recruiter, did you ever happen to recruit Aberdeen graduates? Obviously it's a big decision, with the university of York fees being £9,250 p/y versus Aberdeen which would be free. However if Aberdeen would hinder my possibilities of securing a TC (or whatever it'll be with the new SQE) with an international law firm, then it'd follow that York would be the obvious and most sensible choice.

Thanks.
 

Jessica Booker

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Hello @Jessica Booker I hope you are doing well.

With regards to the recruitment process of international law firms, although I do appreciate that recruiters try to get the whole picture of a candidate, to what extent A-levels grades (or equivalent) weigh on an candidate's application? If the candidate achieved a 2:1 or a first, but had the A-levels equivalent of ABB (with mitigating circumstances), would the A-levels prevent them from even be considered at all?

Also, I appreciate the concept of RG unis is becoming a bit outdated, but it seems it may still play a role in helping a recruiter reaching a decision about a candidate - and I do appreciate there may be so many different factors that come into play in this. I'm in the process of choosing a university and currently stuck between the University of Aberdeen and the University of York - both for a LLB Law programme (Dual English and Scots law at Aberdeen). Looking up online, I could not really find any information as to whether any Aberdeen Alumni managed to secure a TC with an international law firm or MC firm as opposed to York graduates. Is it a case where perhaps Aberdeen graduates simply do not apply to MC/ international law firms and thus there isn't any data, or they do not just make it through the process at all? Would study Law in Scotland possibly put me in a disadvantaged position as opposed to candidates from other English unis, or better from RG unis such as the University of York? Throughout your career as a recruiter, did you ever happen to recruit Aberdeen graduates? Obviously it's a big decision, with the university of York fees being £9,250 p/y versus Aberdeen which would be free. However if Aberdeen would hinder my possibilities of securing a TC (or whatever it'll be with the new SQE) with an international law firm, then it'd follow that York would be the obvious and most sensible choice.

Thanks.
Some firms will have a strict AAB (or higher) requirement. However this is a minority of firms. In addition, those firms with a strict requirement will still consider mitigating circumstances and can look beyond the grades in situations where a candidate has clear circumstances that impacted their grades that can be verified by someone (eg your school/college or a medicinal professional).

The RG status has no impact in the recruitment process at all. There are some reasons why more RG students are seen in city law firms:

1) They are more likely to meet the A-level criteria

2) They are more likely to be aiming for a career in the city

The reason there isn’t a lot of Aberdeen graduates in city law firms is not a lot of Aberdeen’s graduates want to work in London. They end up staying in Scotland, either because they were born and raised there, or because they want to stay in the region after graduation.

Plus, although the course you have identified is a dual qualifying degree, other law courses at Aberdeen aren’t and therefore, qualifying in the U.K. has historically been more difficult where students also needed to complete parts of the GDL (this is less relevant now due to the SQE but explains why historically there are fewer people).

In comparison, York will have a fair number of the Home Counties who move away from home for uni, only to then want to aim for a career in the city, which for many will be a commutable distance from the towns and villages they grew up in.

I have recruited trainees from Aberdeen. There hasn’t been a lot of them, purely because I haven’t seen a lot of applicants from Aberdeen. I’d be lucky to have 10 each year, while from somewhere like York, I’d probably have 80-100 a year (and from non-law students too). I can’t remember the last time a saw an application from a non-law Aberdeen grad, but will regularly see non-law applicants from York.

So I don’t think going to Aberdeen will hinder your chances directly. But what is less likely, is there will be fewer law careers events on campus compared to York, and there will be fewer of your peers aiming for the same career as you. That doesn’t mean it is impossible, you just have to be a bit more determined to make your own opportunities happen , while at York many opportunities will just be there for you to take up.

We also have a great member of our community @Jacob Miller who went to Aberdeen and has a TC with a city firm. You may want to send him a private message on here or via LinkedIn if you want more thoughts on how it was like for him at Aberdeen (if he doesn’t spot this and respond to this post).
 
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Paaris

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    Hello :)
    For firms that have a small trainee intake, is there an appetite to ask to join an earlier intake? I suspect for larger firms with a big trainee intake who also have two cohorts in a year, it's likely not to be an issue to ask to start either immediately (i.e. the very next trainee intake) or a year earlier. But for large firms that have a limited number of trainees, is it likely they will be able to allow someone to start earlier? And if so, when is the best time to make it clear that a candidate would like to join ASAP rather than waiting two years? Thanks!
     

    Jessica Booker

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    Hello :)
    For firms that have a small trainee intake, is there an appetite to ask to join an earlier intake? I suspect for larger firms with a big trainee intake who also have two cohorts in a year, it's likely not to be an issue to ask to start either immediately (i.e. the very next trainee intake) or a year earlier. But for large firms that have a limited number of trainees, is it likely they will be able to allow someone to start earlier? And if so, when is the best time to make it clear that a candidate would like to join ASAP rather than waiting two years? Thanks!
    I don't think it is any different for small firms vs larger firms in all honesty. The chances of being moved won't necessarily be any different in a small firm compared to a large firm or with a small trainee intake to a large intake.

    You should raise it as soon as possible from the point of either the final interview stage or offer stage onwards.
     
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    dollyparton

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    Hi @Jessica Booker - I have a TC starting in September 2023. I did the GDL last year, worked as a paralegal this year, and will start the LPC this September (2022).

    The firm I’m training at doesn’t reimburse for the GDL, but will be paying my LPC fees and giving me a maintenance grant. However, rent / the cost of living in London means I’m not sure how I’m going to manage financially when I’m doing the LPC.

    I am planning to work part time, but even with working it will be extremely tight.

    In your experience, can firms be flexible in the grant they give and/or offer future trainees any additional financial support?
     
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    Jessica Booker

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    Hi @Jessica Booker - I have a TC starting in September 2023. I did the GDL last year, worked as a paralegal this year, and will start the LPC this September (2022).

    The firm I’m training at doesn’t reimburse for the GDL, but will be paying my LPC fees and giving me a maintenance grant. However, rent / the cost of living in London means I’m not sure how I’m going to manage financially when I’m doing the LPC.

    I am planning to work part time, but even with working it will be extremely tight.

    In your experience, can firms be flexible in the grant they give and/or offer future trainees any additional financial support?
    They typically are not flexible with the grant - they make sure this is the same amount for everyone as a matter of fairness to the trainee cohort (same reason trainees get paid the same too).

    You should speak to the firm and see what alternative support they can provide to you though. This post explains some of the other methods of support they could provide: https://www.thecorporatelawacademy....r-maintenance-grant-increase.5568/post-115150
     

    dollyparton

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    They typically are not flexible with the grant - they make sure this is the same amount for everyone as a matter of fairness to the trainee cohort (same reason trainees get paid the same too).

    You should speak to the firm and see what alternative support they can provide to you though. This post explains some of the other methods of support they could provide: https://www.thecorporatelawacademy....r-maintenance-grant-increase.5568/post-115150
    Thank you for your quick reply @Jessica Booker. If I were to be awarded a scholarship by my LPC provider (giving a reduction on my LPC fees), do you think the firm would be open to giving me the difference as part of my maintenance grant instead? As they would be paying less in LPC fees on my behalf? Alternatively, if I did the LPC in a location outside of London where the fees are significantly cheaper, would they consider topping up my maintenance grant with the difference in fees?

    Just wondering if you’ve come across either of these situations before.
     

    Jessica Booker

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    Thank you for your quick reply @Jessica Booker. If I were to be awarded a scholarship by my LPC provider (giving a reduction on my LPC fees), do you think the firm would be open to giving me the difference as part of my maintenance grant instead? As they would be paying less in LPC fees on my behalf? Alternatively, if I did the LPC in a location outside of London where the fees are significantly cheaper, would they consider topping up my maintenance grant with the difference in fees?

    Just wondering if you’ve come across either of these situations before.
    Are the firm paying the fees directly or do you have to pay them and then get them reimbursed?
     

    Jessica Booker

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    @Jessica Booker The firm pays the fees directly I believe
    I think the best approach is to speak to the firm and ask what (if any) support they can provide to you rather than going in with an expectation of them giving you something in particular. I wouldn't expect a firm to pay you the difference between what a course costs at a cheaper location, as ultimately this means you getting more money, and this is something the firm is unlikely to consider as a matter of fairness to all trainees (for instance, those who cannot choose a cheaper location would be at a disadvantage). For the LPC scholarship, it might just be easier to ask your LPC provider to pay you scholarship money directly (rather than it coming off your fees), if this is an option.
     

    dollyparton

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    I think the best approach is to speak to the firm and ask what (if any) support they can provide to you rather than going in with an expectation of them giving you something in particular. I wouldn't expect a firm to pay you the difference between what a course costs at a cheaper location, as ultimately this means you getting more money, and this is something the firm is unlikely to consider as a matter of fairness to all trainees (for instance, those who cannot choose a cheaper location would be at a disadvantage). For the LPC scholarship, it might just be easier to ask your LPC provider to pay you scholarship money directly (rather than it coming off your fees), if this is an option.
    Thank you @Jessica Booker
     

    asdf1234

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    Hello @Jessica Booker I hope you are doing well.

    I'm on a first-year fast track scheme that will be scheduling VS interviews at the end of May. However, the week that the VS interviews commences clashes with my end of year exams. How would you suggest I go about telling the firm about this (and are they likely to reschedule the interviews to after my exams?)
     

    Jessica Booker

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    Hello @Jessica Booker I hope you are doing well.

    I'm on a first-year fast track scheme that will be scheduling VS interviews at the end of May. However, the week that the VS interviews commences clashes with my end of year exams. How would you suggest I go about telling the firm about this (and are they likely to reschedule the interviews to after my exams?)
    The firm should really be aware it is the middle of exam season (so I am surprised they think it's appropriate to run them at this time in all honesty).

    They should be able to run alternative dates and I am confident that you won't be the only candidate asking this, so when they send you the dates to book just call or email them with your availability and ask whether your interview can be scheduled at that time instead.

    The worst they can say is no, and then you just have to try and balance the interview with your exams.
     

    Jessica Booker

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    Hi @Jessica Booker I just had a final interview for a direct TC and I feel like I answered all the questions well, but my answer to why the firm and not another wasn't strong enough. Do you think this could be a deciding factor in getting the TC even though I talked about the firm's practice areas well?
    I would stress that you are assuming it is not strong enough - it isn’t necessarily the case that your interviewer thought the same about your answer.

    Even if it was the case, it’s unlike that your career motivation was assessed by one question alone, and so it may not have been a deciding factor depending on how your interviewer perceived your other answers and how they interconnect with one another.
     

    thewaythecookiecrumbles

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    I would stress that you are assuming it is not strong enough - it isn’t necessarily the case that your interviewer thought the same about your answer.

    Even if it was the case, it’s unlike that your career motivation was assessed by one question alone, and so it may not have been a deciding factor depending on how your interviewer perceived your other answers and how they interconnect with one another.
    Yes, I’m perceiving it in that way because I did a lot of prep and research into the firm and when the time to show it I didn’t mention the more sophisticated points that I know would sound good.

    I’m really hoping my other answers showcased it.