This week’s post is a guest blog from our Training Principal in anticipation of the applications that are about to be completed as the academic year draws to a close.
I thought it might be of use to note a few points of advice that may help in the application process. Whilst these are the key things that I look for in a training contract application to Gateley, I hope they will be transferable to any application you’re making.
As a short introduction, I’ve worked at Gateley since 2003 and have always taken a keen interest in graduate recruitment. In recent years, I have taken on further responsibility for our graduate recruitment and trainees, by taking on the role of Training Principal. It’s something I am very passionate about. Identifying the next intake of trainees, and the group that will hopefully become the future partners of the firm, is key for our business. Each year I help to review all of the applications we receive and identify strong applicants so I feel I am in a good position to offer some advice on training contract applications.
I appreciate that the task of obtaining a training contract can seem like a daunting one, with many published facts and figures citing the large number of students that are now undertaking the LPC in comparison to the smaller number of training contract places that are available. This is reflected in the applications we receive, with more students than ever before applying to us once they have already started or completed their LPC. Gateley has no preference regarding the stage at which you apply to us – we recruit our trainees at all stages from undergraduates to applicants who have already completed their LPC.
We are keen to look at applications from people that can bring varying life experiences to the role, such as someone who may have already pursued a different career before moving into the law, or perhaps a candidate that has set up their own business alongside their university studies.
Before you put ‘pen to paper’, here are a few of the things that I look for:
Strong academics. If you have looked on our website before applying you will see that we ask for at least three B’s at A Level and a 2.1 at University. This is a good indicator of an astute and enquiring mind which is needed to work on challenging and complex cases. (Having said that, we do consider extenuating circumstances that may have affected any grades that are below our requirements.)
Beyond this, we don’t have any set criteria that we judge candidates against, but we do like to see a candidate who has interests and activities outside their academic life. We are renowned for being a friendly and sociable firm and that is something we also look for in our applicants, someone who will fit in and would be willing to pitch in and help out. This is particularly important to us as there are numerous responsibilities that our trainees take on outside their fee earning work. For example, our trainees arrange and organise most of the offices’ CSR events and are heavily involved in all of our sports and social committees. So, I look for an application that gives evidence of a well-rounded individual who will enjoy rolling up their sleeves and getting involved in the numerous other events and activities that we do.
Evidence of an interest in the law and being a solicitor. Beyond studying law and flicking through BBC news for any updates in world affairs, I want to know what has sparked your interest in the law – what really appeals to you about the sector and what have you done to ensure that you know what it is like to be a solicitor. Are you certain it is the career for you? Have you shadowed solicitors or barristers, attended external lectures and talks, spoken to family friends that are solicitors, signed up to all of the trainee blogs and followed the appropriate twitter feeds that you can? Any evidence to show that you understand the career you are choosing and that you will pursue it with a passion. If you have a true passion for something, that will come through in your application.
Why Gateley? Do your research. It sounds simple, but just spending a few moments to look over our website and research the type of work we do, the types of clients we have and any accolades we have won can strengthen your application. I appreciate that today you may apply to many different law firms for a training contract, it would be foolish to do otherwise, and naïve for us to assume that you would put all of your eggs in our basket! But taking that little extra time to tailor each application that you complete will make a difference. I do look out for up to date examples and specific details that are unique to Gateley, I want to know why you have applied to us in particular and what appeals to you about Gateley. Are you looking for a career with us or just a training contract?
Personality. Finally, I look for candidates that have enthusiasm and are able to bring their own individual personality to the firm and the work they do. I know this can sometimes be difficult with applications because it goes against every instinct to be a little different or individual. But it is so refreshing to read an application that portrays genuine passion, whether that be for Gateley, the law or the local tennis team that you’ve been coaching since you were in your teens, that is what I want to see.
And finally! Please check your application for typos and errors before you submit it!
I hope this has been beneficial and helps you when the time comes to complete your training contract applications.