If you are to stand any chance of securing a vacation scheme place or training contract you must identify the law practice areas you are most interested in before you make your applications.
To do this you must develop a solid foundation knowledge of ALL the different practice areas in which you could potentially train.
This might sound obvious but in my experience many of those who are unsuccessful with their applications have not done this well enough.
In this post I will explain why it’s essential to have a sound knowledge of all the practice areas and how you can acquire it.
Why A Basic Knowledge of ALL Practice Areas is Essential
If you don’t develop this knowledge before you apply for a vacation scheme or training contract you are unlikely to be invited for interview.
Well, try some of these reasons for size:
- Your Decisions Will Not Be Informed – your decisions when filtering down which practice areas you would like to train in will not be informed decisions. Your future employers want to see evidence of informed decisions. When it comes to that “Why this firm?” question, your answer will be much flimsier than an answer from someone who has developed their knowledge about which practice areas they are genuinely interested in and why.
- You Won’t Find The Right Fit – without this knowledge it will be nigh on impossible to determine which firms would be the right fit for you – this is one of the main keys to getting an interview.
- You Might Miss Something – you may not discover less well known practice areas which could be perfect for you.
- You Will Most Likely Make Poor Decisions – you might decide a practice area is NOT for you when in fact it could be exactly the right area for you. I regularly see candidates make this mistake based on a misunderstanding or a misconception due to too little knowledge of the practice areas.
How To Develop a Solid Understanding of the Practice Areas
The main way I recommend you develop this foundation knowledge in the first instance is the most efficient way – online research.
In particular the following excellent resources:
- Lawcareers.net – a comprehensive guide to a wide range of practice areas which includes information about the types of person and skill-sets certain areas will suit.
- Chambers Student – a detailed guide including what lawyers in a practice area do, the realities of the job and current issues in the area.
- Lex100 – smaller and more focused on commercial areas of law but with each area described by trainees and lawyers actually working in the area. Great to get another angle on each area.
- TargetJobs (scroll to bottom of the page and click the “Show more” button) – another comprehensive guide with a real insight into each practice area given by those who have been there, seen it, done it. Many of the entries are written by those at the top of their field ranging from senior partners in private practice to lawyers at the Crown Prosecution Services.
So What Are You Waiting For?
If you haven’t already identified which practice areas you are most interested in, or you have but have not developed this basic knowledge on all the practice areas, then there’s work to do.
I appreciate it can be time consuming but it’s work that some of your competitors will be doing so you should too if you want to stand a chance in the race.
Grab a coffee, get rid of distractions and start reading.
You will be pleased you did – and so will your future potential employers!
Image: Mike Kline