Conversation between colleagues

Merry application season!

It’s that time of year again, the Christmas lights are up, the German markets are doing a roaring trade in frankfurters and there is yet another campaign to stop the X factor winner getting to Christmas number one. When I was a law student though, this time also meant something far less festive: applications. While everyone else looked forward to a nice long holiday full of cheer and chocolate, I was preparing myself for days of preparing and submitting applications. The more I did, the better I felt. I could pat myself on the back and be justifiably outraged when met with almost resounding silence in the months that followed.

Thankfully it didn’t take me long to realise that the old adage does ring true. With applications, as with pretty much everything else in life, it really is quality over quantity. Hindsight is a wonderful thing and looking back on that time now it is clear where I went wrong. With that in mind, I have set out some (hopefully helpful) tips below to help you along the way:

  • Focus your energies – don’t fall into the same trap as I did and adopt a scatter gun approach to your applications! It is important to take time over each application as it will undermine your credibility somewhat if you say you pride yourself on your attention to detail when your application is riddled with typos!
  • Do your research but avoid regurgitating quotes from the website – it may sound obvious but candidates who have a clear interest in the firm which extends beyond a quick Google search really does translate in an application. Go to law fairs, go to open evenings and try to ask considered questions which you actually want answers to. This will inform your applications and make you more memorable as a candidate.
  • Choose firms where you would be happy doing a seat in any team – although it’s good to demonstrate an interest in a specific area, firms will also want to know that you are flexible and are willing to give things a go.
  • Don’t try to put a square peg in a round hole! In other words, answer the question you have been asked and not the question you wish had been asked instead.  Copying and pasting “catch-all” answers will invariably lead you into trouble.
  • Ask someone you trust to provide you with an honest but constructive critique of your application. I asked a friend to be brutal when looking at one of mine and although it was quite a bruising experience in terms of my ego, it was really helpful in the long run as I was forced to scrutinise and improve upon my answers.

Best of luck with your applications and try to make sure you eat your weight in Quality Streets at least once this Christmas as a reward for all your hard work!


(Rachel joined us for her training contract in March 2012, having studied English at York University and the GDL and LPC at UWE).