TSS Interview With Ananya Bagri, International Student & Future Trainee Solicitor

In this interview, Ananya Bagri describes how she went from multiple rejections to multiple vacation scheme and training contract offers.

Ananya is an Indian, born and brought up in Singapore, and got her undergrad in law from Warwick University. She is a future trainee solicitor with Clifford Chance.

If you’re an international student, also check out our Insider Guide On How To Get A Training Contract As An International Student.

1. Can you share a brief background about your journey.

I was born in India and raised in Singapore, and I did my undergraduate degree in Law at the University of Warwick.

In my first year, I participated in two first-year schemes with Hogan Lovells and Shearman & Sterling.

However, in my second year, I was rejected from every firm I applied to, prompting me to reconsider my approach.

During my final year, I successfully secured a training contract with Clifford Chance while also receiving offers for the vacation schemes of two other firms.

2. In what way did being an international student influence the firms you chose to apply to?

Being an international student significantly influenced the firms I applied to and the options available. I had to check whether a firm had the resources to accommodate international applicants due to the additional expense associated with sponsoring our student or work visas – a factor that automatically led me to prioritise larger firms with established international recruitment practices.

Another critical factor to keep in mind is the dates of the firm’s vacation scheme! Our Tier 4 Visas only permit 20 hours of work per week during term time, and a vacation scheme counts as ‘work.’ Therefore, it’s essential to ensure that the scheme you’re applying to falls outside your university’s official term dates.

I learnt this the hard way – I overlooked this detail and ended up getting automatically rejected from a firm I spent hours applying to.

3. What was the most challenging part of being an international student in the TC process? How did you overcome this?

Understanding the recruitment process in the UK was the biggest challenge I faced. There are so many ‘steps’ to getting a training contract that navigating first-year schemes, vacation schemes, open days, and psychometric tests was initially daunting.

To overcome this, I attended career talks by the Law Society and followed Lawfluencers, who broke down each step in the application process.

4. What concerns did you have as an international student as you pursued a TC?

One of my primary concerns revolved around ensuring that the firm I applied to demonstrated a genuine commitment to promoting diversity – not only in terms of greater minority ethnic representation but also gender representation at all levels.

It was important for me to be part of an environment where all perspectives and backgrounds were valued, respected, and celebrated.

5. What are the main mistakes you made or see other international students make when pursuing a TC?

One mistake I made, particularly with my second-year applications, was prioritising quantity over quality. In my eagerness to secure a training contract, I submitted applications to 15 firms but was rejected by them all. Upon reflection, I realised that my applications were rushed, under-research, and generic.

Learning from this experience, I overhauled my strategy entirely. In my final year, I adopted a more targeted approach and meticulously researched each firm before applying. I narrowed down my choices and submitted applications to only 7 firms.

I dedicated considerable time to scouring their websites. I spoke to trainees and partners I knew from my own network or whom I had met at university events or open days.

This allowed me to craft tailored applications that effectively demonstrated my genuine interest and alignment with each firm’s ethos.

6. How did you leverage your international background when pursuing a TC?

I used my international background to my advantage when answering application or interview questions! I emphasised how my diversity, multicultural background, and proficiency in multiple languages were assets to global firms with clients from all over the world and positioned myself as a candidate who can easily contribute to diverse and dynamic teams.

7. Did you reference your international background when answering the why commercial law or why this firm questions? If so, in what way?


I emphasised how my international background has equipped me to thrive in the dynamic and diverse environment of commercial law, where understanding global markets and navigating cross-border transactions are essential.

I referenced specific skills, like strong communication and collaboration, and what I bring to the table.

8. What is the best advice you can give to an international candidate who is just starting out or who has been unsuccessful so far?

Rejection is only redirection 🙂

You may not secure a training contract the first or second time you apply, and that’s okay! In my own experience, I applied to over 15 firms in my second year of university and got rejected by them all.

One of my colleagues at Clifford Chance only secured her TC the third time she interviewed with the firm after submitting applications to them over a period of three years.

You must remember that rejection does not mean you are less capable than your peers! I know many deserving applicants who would be great lawyers but have struggled to convert their applications into offers.

Redirect your focus on refining the depth and quality of your answers, network with people at the firm, improve your test scores, seek mentorship from those willing to guide you, and power on.

Secondly, the rule of thumb is that if you can copy-paste the name of another firm into your answer to an application question, and if your answer is still understandable, it is not nearly detailed enough.

Firms can easily distinguish between candidates who have done their research and spent time crafting tailored answers to their application questions from candidates who change a few words around and hit the submit button.

Always make your answers specific, not generic, if you want to give yourself a real shot. This does not mean that you overpopulate your answer with random facts about the firm; but that you bring in specific knowledge where relevant.

matt oliver law career coach

Matt Oliver

Matt is a former FTSE 100 in-house lawyer, an experienced legal career coach and MD of Trainee Solicitor Surgery. He provides entry level law careers advice to students and graduates through his writing and mentoring. He also offers private one-to-one coaching to those struggling with training contract and vacation scheme applications, interviews and assessment centres. Find out more about Matt's 1-2-1 Coaching >>>>