September/October of each year sees the start of various new cycles in the worlds of students, graduates and law job applicants. Students are either starting a new year at university or commencing the GDL or LPC at law school. Out of those who have already finished their studies, the lucky ones will be commencing their training contracts.
October also sees the start of a new Trainee Solicitor Recruitment Cycle – a 12 month cycle that many firms work to when marketing, and recruiting for, their training contracts. This may come as a surprise to many but it is important to understand that the recruitment process for many law firms actually lasts for a full 12 months.
Here’s an example chronology for the activities of a typical law firm that regularly recruits trainee solicitors:
- October/November – attending selected law fairs around the country – some will be exclusively for students at that uni whilst others will be open to all.
- October/November – accepting and considering applications for winter and spring vacation schemes (if they offer these).
- October-January – accepting and considering applications for summer vacation schemes
- January-April – conducting interviews for summer vacation schemes
- January-March – they may have a selection of open days at the firm’s offices for potential candidates to get to know the firm better.
- January – July – accepting and considering applications for training contracts to start in one or two years time. Some firms consider applications on a rolling basis all year round however.
- August & September – conducting assessment centres and interviews before offering training contracts to the successful candidates.
And then repeat for the next year’s intake.
It may be rather overwhelming to know that you need to be engaged with the recruitment process for a full 12 months – however, if you really want to work somewhere then its worth the effort and is a must if you want to be successful.
The reason why many people don’t know about this Trainee Solicitor Recruitment Cycle, or don’t want to acknowledge it, is because they have not done their research – either into the recruitment processes and requirements or into where they want to apply to. This uncertainty about which firms they want to work at or the type of law they would like to train in permeates many candidates and is one of the biggest reasons for failure in securing a training contract.
Let’s compare two students.
The first knows about the Trainee Solicitor Recruitment Cycle, accepts that it exists and has planned how to use it to their advantage.
The second candidate either doesn’t know about it or sort of knows about it but chooses to put their head in the sand. They will then try to pull a rabbit out of a hat in July when the training contract application deadlines are looming.
The issues which arise a lot more if you are the second type of candidate rather than the first type of candidate are:
- You have less time to invest into quality applications
- Many of you will also have exam pressures for much of May and June
- Panic can start to set in which never results in your best work
- You identify/think about gaps in your experience when its too late to do anything about it – trying to get that two week work experience placement in June/July so you can add it to your applications before you send them off is going to be hard work – even if you get it you then have less time available to focus on your applications
- If the firm recruits on a rolling basis then there may well be less places available to you when you get your application in and thus your chances are lower
- You will not have had the advantage of speaking with firms’ representatives at law fairs, open days and listening to their presentations. This helps you put forward a persuasive case for why you want to work for them.
If you were unsuccessful with your applications this year then you cannot afford to ignore this advice or fail to take all the opportunities that are available from the start of the Trainee Solicitor Recruitment Cycle. If you are a second year law student, a third year non-law student or otherwise in a position where you will apply for a training contract within the next 10 months or so then we would urge that you do not ignore this either.
If you go to law fairs and open days, and start researching law firms and the recruitment processes and requirements, you are far more likely to get your applications right. The good news for you is that many people will not be given this advice or will see it and ignore it. Therefore you will have a significant competitive advantage if you take this on board and apply yourself consistently throughout the full Trainee Solicitor Recruitment Cycle.