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Discussion in 'Applications Discussion' started by Jaysen, Aug 1, 2019.
yes good point, doesn't hurt to be prepared! thanks Alice
Hi Jessica, I was just wondering if when answering 'What are your motivations to be a solicitor? What have you done to confirm this is the career for you?' for a business focussed training contract you should talk about a career in law/as a solicitor in general or if it is ok to mention why commercial law in particular even though it doesnt explicitly ask?
Makes sense to focus it on commercial law if you can and if it applies to the firm you are applying to. Sometimes people use questions like this to showcase they have considered other legal careers/different type of firms, and have excluded them through their own investigations.
Long time reader first time poster - gleaned a fair bit of info from this thread so I'm really grateful for your time. I've been making TC apps to a mix of US and magic circle firms but I have a pretty unusual background. I did a law degree and went into investment banking, but my bank made 25% of analysts redundant at the end of 2019 including 1/3 of the grad class. I speak fluent Mandarin and have been working in Chinese mining M&A since, but I have no formal legal experience to speak of.
I've really tried to highlight the legal aspects of my transactional work in my apps and why it's drawn me to law - but am I being realistic in applying for TCs without any vac scheme?
Really appreciate any thoughts you may have
Very realistic - but you are going to have to explain the change in route.
Recruiters actually see a fair number of people in this type of situation. Banks are known to have a fairly harsh “cut” on graduate intakes, whether it be through not passing exams or not passing probation periods. Redundancies are rare because most graduate programmes aren’t eligible for redundancy packages (due to lack of length of service).
The issue is that there are too many IB’ers who then think law is the next best route. The two careers are very different - in fact in many ways polar opposite. So explaining why you are making a change to law can be tricky.
People do manage it and there are a number of people I recruited who had IB careers before getting into law. But i have lost count how many poorly thought through applications from IB’ers I have seen who didn’t complete their grad programme and are just jumping on law, probably because of the pay and prestige more than anything else.
In short, if it is obvious this is plan B from your application, it probably isn’t good enough. If you can articulate why the change in career, then it could be good enough.
Really appreciate your speedy advice - thanks so much!
I was wondering in relation to the 'work experience' section, how much detail is required, when discussing about the tasks/responsibilities involved? I have a few campus ambassador roles, but the tasks involved can be summarised into two-to three sentences (if I try to be as concise as possible). I am wondering whether I should expand on them, and whether it is advisable to have entries that are slightly short. Would really love to hear your thoughts on this!
Keeping it short is fine - I wouldn’t expect responsibilities for such a role (PT/few hours/limited time) to be very long. You should think about explaining what you achieved though (eg high attendance at events/increased number of applications from your uni etc) - so include facts on your achievements in the role.
Hi Jessica, I would love to hear your insight into the decision-making process for giving TC offers after a vac scheme. Do the grad recruiters take into account your performance at the assessment centre for the vac scheme and build upon that, or is it the case that because all candidates on the vac scheme have successfully passed the assessment centre, they look at your performance on the vac scheme itself with fresh eyes? Thanks a lot.
It will vary from firm to firm and from candidate to candidate.
In the majority of instances, it is like a clean slate. You have been deemed successful from the vacation scheme recruitment process and now it is time to impress for your training contract, whether during the vacation scheme itself or through any subsequent assessments.
However, in instances where the difference in candidates is tight (e.g. you have two similar candidates but only one vacancy), or if there is a slight question or concern about a candidate, then it is not unknown for a firm to go back and look at the details obtained from the vacation scheme recruitment process. For instance, I have done this in the following situations:
Candidate had an unexpectedly weak performance in an analytical/case study type assessment, but everything else was strong. Went back and looked at the feedback from the vacation scheme assessment to see if there was stronger evidence of their ability there or if there were similar concerns.
Candidate had some minor instances of their written/drafting skills not being up to scratch - but rest of their written work was strong. Went back to look at online assessment scores (verbal reasoning/WG) and also the grade of their written assessment for the vacation scheme
Candidate had not come across well to their interviewers in their TC interview but had strong feedback from their supervisors. Similar concerns were raised in the vacation scheme interviews about how "personable" the individual was
(Although not law, same principle applies) - had two interns but only one graduate vacancy. Both candidates were very strong. Had a meeting with everyone who had assessed both candidates, including those who had interviewed them for the internship to work out who to offer. All assessors had access to all the information, including their internship assessment notes.
In short, if you do exceptionally well or not well enough, the decision will be straight forward and the recruiter won't need to go back to your previous interview notes. But in some cases in the middle and where decisions are marginal, they might.
Hello Jessica, I was wondering if I could get your advice on talking about experience and skills gained in answer to questions in training contract applications. I’m unsure whether I should consider a time limit when talking about relevant experiences in answers to the application questions. Other than the section specially allocated for work experience I tend only to mention relevant examples of work I’ve done or skills gained from the past 2-3 years. I have a lot of experience dating back up to 7 years but fear that mentioning things I learnt or did so many years ago may be seen by recruiters as irrelevant. I would love to hear your comments on this.
Where possible, try to use modern examples (2-3 years is generally fine). However, it is not to say that older experiences are completely off-limits, particularly if they are significant in terms of achievement, personal development or time commitment.
For instance, I know someone who used their time training as a ballerina as an example. They had stopped doing that for some years before their application, but it was an incredibly long and significant commitment to a passion of theirs. It showed their determination (or stickability as we used to call it) to something - it really didn't matter how long ago it was and that it wasn't anywhere close to be related to law, it was clear that it was an exceptional example of the quality or competence the firm were looking for.
The time period doesn't make an experience irrelevant but the following might make it less relevant:
How much you have changed as a person since then (e.g. would you act the same way now if faced with the same situation).
Have your more recent experiences superseded your older ones
It may be more relevant if that experience did the following:
Changed your path on to the one you are on now
Helped developed a specific skill set or knowledge that would be relevant/important today
Every now and then I am still interviewed and I still use examples from 12-13 years ago because I consider them them highly relevant. It is down to you though to explain why an older example is relevant and why the recruiter should take note of it.
Since contexualised recruitment system cannot be used to track the performance of International applicants, can we assume that, that particular firm has no A-levels requirements for International applicants (Indian in my case) and the poor A-levels will not stop the applicant from moving to the next round? @Jessica Booker
No - that’s not how contextualised recruitment systems work. You’d need to speak to the individual firm to understand whether you would eligible to apply or not.
I've secured a 3 month internship in the MoJ for this summer but it has now been deferred to next year because of the pandemic. I am currently applying for training contracts in 2022 and was wondering if it is worth mentioning this at any point in the application process?
Yes - definitely worth mentioning in an application somewhere. Probably most suited to an “extra information” section
I graduated in 2018, worked for a year in law and have just completed my LPC.
I sent a speculative CV and cover letter for a paralegal role at a firm in London and they confirmed they had a role and asked if I wanted to be put forward for it. I confirmed that I did even though its in an area that I dont have any plans to work in in the future however, I thought that due to the current climate I should take any opportunity (especially as this role has not been advertised to the public) and marketed myself in the cover letter saying I wish to broaden my legal knowledge and experience etc. I have now been asked for a 'call zoom call' with the head of department.
Is this an interview? and am I wasting my time going for a role I dont have a desire to work in? I am worried that I will be wasting time but surely any experience as a paralegal is good experience? (I obviously could be surprised and enjoy the work)
Yes it is an interview - if might just a relatively short one that feels more like a discussion.
It’s not a waste of time unless you have something better to do with your time that is guaranteed right now.
Hi Jessica, I know this is a bit of a nothingy question, but I was wondering what your thoughts are on how firms assess you. I know it varies, but for example if you missed some stuff out in the interview/gave a fluffy answer are they likely to read it in conjunction with your application and think oh well She didn’t mention that but obviously She has an understanding of X because it is clearly there in her work experience. I know it doesn’t all hinge on one question, and the interview is there for you to sell yourself but would you say they tend to look at things holistically or is it more of a tick box exercise in terms of the interview?
@Jessica Booker What is your opinion on International applicants applying to firms with as few as 20 TCs which are up for grabs- firms like Bird&Bird, Taylor Wessing etc. I'm afraid that with places so few- the firm might prefer local candidates over International ones because on the Legal Cheek website, one of these firms had a pie chart in which the number of International students were 0.