I Got My TC After 5 Years. Ask Me Anything!

SLKEJRWOI97

Legendary Member
2020 Community Winner
Junior Lawyer
Jan 22, 2020
314
859
Hi everyone!

I'm really fortunate and pleased to say that I secured and accepted a training contract with a Magic Circle law firm. I thought I'd create this thread to give inspiration/courage to those who are still going through the process and to help where I can.

Note: I don't check my forum messages often so please post here rather than DMing me (unless it's personal).

Background

As per the name, I've been applying for 5 years. But, I properly started applying two years ago.

So what does "properly applying" mean? It means:
  • not copying and pasting my applications (thereby creating a generic application)
  • checking for SPAG before I send, properly researching and networking with firms before applying
  • reading over my applications aloud to make sure my sentences flow and there are no SPAG-related issues
  • being honest with the reasons why I'm applying to a firm (i.e. reputation, diversity, work that applies to me).

Other stuff about my background:
  • Depression and severe anxiety - a demon that I've been fighting for around 10 years now which impacted my uni grades.
  • Further education - GCSEs and A-levels at a non-selective state school
  • Higher education - Law undergraduate degree at a Russell Group.
  • Family - single parent raised + small family (only one parent, me and my siblings in the UK) + raised on social security and in a council flat (my parent can't work due to health reasons) = never had access to anyone working a white-collar job let alone a job in the City/law.

What I learned during the application process:
  1. Don't take rejection personally - as brutal as it is, law firms will reject you and won't think about you again. And I found myself getting so upset when this happened. It impacted my self-confidence and I found myself questioning if I'm "good enough". The truth is that WE'RE ALL GOOD ENOUGH.

    How I dealt with this is by celebrating myself. I framed my mind: there is only one me and there will only ever be one me but there are hundreds of firms. I'm not saying you should be over-confident but learn that you truly are a special person and that there can only ever be one of you so anyone, any firm, anything is lucky to interact with you.

    Ru Paul says this very eloquently: "If you don't love yourself, how the hell are you going to love anyone else". And that's so true. It takes a lot of hard work, a lot of self-affirmation, but celebrate your strengths, polish up your areas of development and learn to champion yourself because no one else will if you won't. The firm that rejected you or rejected me won't so it's imperative that someone does. And that someone is YOU.

  2. Scrutinise your applications - look at your application and ask: if I was the graduate recruiter, with over 2,500 applications left to review, and I've just read this application, would I progress it? If yes, why? If not, why?

    Consider the below:

    a) Are you PEEing all over your application? - PEE stands for point, evidence, explain and it's a great tool for writing persuasively. Why is writing persuasively important? Well, you're asking a firm to basically invest nearly £250k into your development and training. So you need to put a good case forward.

    If you're saying "I'm attracted to the small intake", can you substantiate that? What evidence do you have to prove that?

    b) Are you writing in a structured manner? - irrespective of whether you use PEE or not, does your structure make sense? Are you writing in full prose? Consider structures like CAR/STAR or even laying out your answer (for whatever reason) clearly: i.e. a chronological story, etc.

    c) Have you read your application aloud? Has a friend/family member reviewed it? - this is so important. Imagine this: You've probably been working on a question for hours and you can't be bothered anymore. The rest of your questions are done and so you just want to click submit. STOP! Get yourself a drink or take a short break, try and print your app out and then review it with a fresh set of eyes. Or ask someone else to. Or at least read it out aloud. The amount of times I've done this and I've found issues is insane. So please please PLEASE review your applications before you submit.

  3. Do NOT give up - I've been applying for nearly 5 years in total and while I wish I got my application strategy in check sooner, I'm so grateful for my journey because, without this struggle, I wouldn't be the person I am today.

    Rejection is brutal but you must continue. Dory says: "Just keep swimming". And that's what you exactly should do. BUT, be sure to go back to the drawing board otherwise your applications won't develop, advance and grow.

Happy to answer any questions and good luck!
 

SLKEJRWOI97

Legendary Member
2020 Community Winner
Junior Lawyer
Jan 22, 2020
314
859
Thank you. This is very helpful.
I’m fairly new to the application process. Can you give a couple of persuasive examples of how to point, evidence and explain eg your small intake answer.

One example could be: I'm drawn to the XLP's small intake which aligns with my way of working. As an Intern for XLD, I work within small teams to execute client projects. [Explain]
 

Dheepa

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Staff member
Future Trainee
TCLA Moderator
Premium Member
Forum Team
M&A Bootcamp
Junior Lawyer 43
  • Jan 20, 2019
    853
    2,131
    LOVE that you live by that Ru Paul quote. Huge congratulations on your TC - it's so nice to see our long standing members succeed. 🤩
     

    Internationalsolicitor

    Active Member
    Feb 2, 2022
    14
    4
    Congratulations on finally getting the TC!

    Could you please tell me how firms treat mature candidates while assessing for training contracts?

    I am an international lawyer. If I have already received qualifying work experience in my home country as per SRA (2 years PQE) while my training contract applications in the UK have not been successful, can I still continue to apply for training contract applications? (considering I do not want to shift laterally as an associate).

    Thank you!
     

    AvniD

    Legendary Member
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    Premium Member
    Oct 25, 2021
    752
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    Hi @Internationalsolicitor! I wonder whether you're technically considered overqualified for a training contract if you've already qualified and worked for 2 years after that in your home country. May I ask why you aren't keen on applying for jobs as an associate?

    Also tagging @Jessica Booker here for her thoughts!
     

    Jessica Booker

    Legendary Member
    Graduate Recruitment
    Premium Member
    Forum Team
    Aug 1, 2019
    9,793
    14,541
    Hi @Internationalsolicitor! I wonder whether you're technically considered overqualified for a training contract if you've already qualified and worked for 2 years after that in your home country. May I ask why you aren't keen on applying for jobs as an associate?

    Also tagging @Jessica Booker here for her thoughts!
    It is a tricky situation as by the time this person accumulated more PQE experience ahead of starting TCs currently being hired for (eg another 2-3 years experience) they are likely to be considered over qualified. Especially with the SQE too, they won’t need a training contract either.
     

    Internationalsolicitor

    Active Member
    Feb 2, 2022
    14
    4
    Hi @Internationalsolicitor! I wonder whether you're technically considered overqualified for a training contract if you've already qualified and worked for 2 years after that in your home country. May I ask why you aren't keen on applying for jobs as an associate?

    Also tagging @Jessica Booker here for her thoughts!
    I wanted to apply for a training contract since I don't have a lot of exposure to UK laws. In your opinion would a lateral shift be preferred over a training contract?
     

    Internationalsolicitor

    Active Member
    Feb 2, 2022
    14
    4
    It is a tricky situation as by the time this person accumulated more PQE experience ahead of starting TCs currently being hired for (eg another 2-3 years experience) they are likely to be considered over qualified. Especially with the SQE too, they won’t need a training contract either.
    Would my experience in my home country count since I'd mostly be dealing with domestic law and not international/UK law?
     

    AvniD

    Legendary Member
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    Oct 25, 2021
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    I wanted to apply for a training contract since I don't have a lot of exposure to UK laws. In your opinion would a lateral shift be preferred over a training contract?
    You could try doing the SQE and applying for NQ roles or shifting laterally, whatever brings you the most luck. You'll still be UK qualified even if you don't find a job straight away here and that could be a huge advantage if you have to go back to your home country for a short while you look for roles.
     

    SLKEJRWOI97

    Legendary Member
    2020 Community Winner
    Junior Lawyer
    Jan 22, 2020
    314
    859
    Congratulations on finally getting the TC!

    Could you please tell me how firms treat mature candidates while assessing for training contracts?

    I am an international lawyer. If I have already received qualifying work experience in my home country as per SRA (2 years PQE) while my training contract applications in the UK have not been successful, can I still continue to apply for training contract applications? (considering I do not want to shift laterally as an associate).

    Thank you!
    Hey there!

    I've not heard of firms overtly preferring candidates from one year group over another. There are some arguments to say that a firm's future talent pipeline and recruitment strategy means that they try to win talent earlier on in the pipeline. That being said, I've met and still continue to meet future trainees and trainees who are significantly older than me (25) and have had illustrious careers outside of law i.e. marketing, finance, investment banking, etc. Many of these people own houses, have families, have "mature" responsibilities.

    However, I do understand the concerns that mature applicants have. Ultimately though, it's knowing that you can leverage your X amount of years of experience in X amount of careers/jobs/projects to the benefit of a firm and its clients. It may mean you have to pause and write down all the projects you've worked on and decide on which project/task was the most impactful.

    It's daunting attending a networking event with so many people that are younger than you. I totally get it. But remember that we're all on equal footing and it's about how we talk about experiences just as much as it's about what the experience is (and that's why application writing is so important).

    I see that Avni and Jess have answered your questions about the qualifying work experience so I'll leave you in their capable hands.

    Good luck!
     

    Internationalsolicitor

    Active Member
    Feb 2, 2022
    14
    4
    Hey there!

    I've not heard of firms overtly preferring candidates from one year group over another. There are some arguments to say that a firm's future talent pipeline and recruitment strategy means that they try to win talent earlier on in the pipeline. That being said, I've met and still continue to meet future trainees and trainees who are significantly older than me (25) and have had illustrious careers outside of law i.e. marketing, finance, investment banking, etc. Many of these people own houses, have families, have "mature" responsibilities.

    However, I do understand the concerns that mature applicants have. Ultimately though, it's knowing that you can leverage your X amount of years of experience in X amount of careers/jobs/projects to the benefit of a firm and its clients. It may mean you have to pause and write down all the projects you've worked on and decide on which project/task was the most impactful.

    It's daunting attending a networking event with so many people that are younger than you. I totally get it. But remember that we're all on equal footing and it's about how we talk about experiences just as much as it's about what the experience is (and that's why application writing is so important).

    I see that Avni and Jess have answered your questions about the qualifying work experience so I'll leave you in their capable hands.

    Good luck!
    Thank you :)
     

    Sarai

    Star Member
    Premium Member
    Oct 13, 2021
    41
    22
    Hi everyone!

    I'm really fortunate and pleased to say that I secured and accepted a training contract with a Magic Circle law firm. I thought I'd create this thread to give inspiration/courage to those who are still going through the process and to help where I can.

    Note: I don't check my forum messages often so please post here rather than DMing me (unless it's personal).

    Background

    As per the name, I've been applying for 5 years. But, I properly started applying two years ago.

    So what does "properly applying" mean? It means:
    • not copying and pasting my applications (thereby creating a generic application)
    • checking for SPAG before I send, properly researching and networking with firms before applying
    • reading over my applications aloud to make sure my sentences flow and there are no SPAG-related issues
    • being honest with the reasons why I'm applying to a firm (i.e. reputation, diversity, work that applies to me).

    Other stuff about my background:
    • Depression and severe anxiety - a demon that I've been fighting for around 10 years now which impacted my uni grades.
    • Further education - GCSEs and A-levels at a non-selective state school
    • Higher education - Law undergraduate degree at a Russell Group.
    • Family - single parent raised + small family (only one parent, me and my siblings in the UK) + raised on social security and in a council flat (my parent can't work due to health reasons) = never had access to anyone working a white-collar job let alone a job in the City/law.

    What I learned during the application process:
    1. Don't take rejection personally - as brutal as it is, law firms will reject you and won't think about you again. And I found myself getting so upset when this happened. It impacted my self-confidence and I found myself questioning if I'm "good enough". The truth is that WE'RE ALL GOOD ENOUGH.

      How I dealt with this is by celebrating myself. I framed my mind: there is only one me and there will only ever be one me but there are hundreds of firms. I'm not saying you should be over-confident but learn that you truly are a special person and that there can only ever be one of you so anyone, any firm, anything is lucky to interact with you.

      Ru Paul says this very eloquently: "If you don't love yourself, how the hell are you going to love anyone else". And that's so true. It takes a lot of hard work, a lot of self-affirmation, but celebrate your strengths, polish up your areas of development and learn to champion yourself because no one else will if you won't. The firm that rejected you or rejected me won't so it's imperative that someone does. And that someone is YOU.

    2. Scrutinise your applications - look at your application and ask: if I was the graduate recruiter, with over 2,500 applications left to review, and I've just read this application, would I progress it? If yes, why? If not, why?

      Consider the below:

      a) Are you PEEing all over your application? - PEE stands for point, evidence, explain and it's a great tool for writing persuasively. Why is writing persuasively important? Well, you're asking a firm to basically invest nearly £250k into your development and training. So you need to put a good case forward.

      If you're saying "I'm attracted to the small intake", can you substantiate that? What evidence do you have to prove that?

      b) Are you writing in a structured manner? - irrespective of whether you use PEE or not, does your structure make sense? Are you writing in full prose? Consider structures like CAR/STAR or even laying out your answer (for whatever reason) clearly: i.e. a chronological story, etc.

      c) Have you read your application aloud? Has a friend/family member reviewed it? - this is so important. Imagine this: You've probably been working on a question for hours and you can't be bothered anymore. The rest of your questions are done and so you just want to click submit. STOP! Get yourself a drink or take a short break, try and print your app out and then review it with a fresh set of eyes. Or ask someone else to. Or at least read it out aloud. The amount of times I've done this and I've found issues is insane. So please please PLEASE review your applications before you submit.

    3. Do NOT give up - I've been applying for nearly 5 years in total and while I wish I got my application strategy in check sooner, I'm so grateful for my journey because, without this struggle, I wouldn't be the person I am today.

      Rejection is brutal but you must continue. Dory says: "Just keep swimming". And that's what you exactly should do. BUT, be sure to go back to the drawing board otherwise your applications won't develop, advance and grow.

    Happy to answer any questions and good luck!
    How did you keep going? I also finally got a TC offer after several years however it's not at a big name like MC, it's not a law firm. I'm not sure about the quality of the training. I'm not sure whether to just go with it because it's been so long and maybe I can change companies later on or whether to keep pursuing TCs at firms I'm really excited to work for and with better job prospects.
     

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