December 31, 2015

Tips on completing your application

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As you know by now, where you do your training contract is one of the most important decision’s you’ll make in your legal career.

It may seem a bit daunting. There are so many different types of law firm to choose from and competition is fierce. The application process needn’t be so daunting if you take the time to prepare and use some common sense.

Watson Burton’s experienced recruitment team has some advice on applying for a training contract.

We’re not trying to catch you out

Application forms are generally designed to get a good overall view of your academic ability, work experience and personal skills. Read the questions carefully and make sure you answer what is asked. Do not recycle answers you have used for another application form just because you think that the question looks similar.

Submit your application on time

This might seem strange but people often fail to check dates, or confuse them with other deadlines. Check your dates carefully, and most importantly, submit your application before the deadline. An application submitted before the deadline is more likely to stand apart from the crowd simply because we have more time to review it.

Don’t rush

Just because a few last minute all-nighters got you some good grades at university, don’t rush through your application. Competition for training contracts is high and you deserve to give yourself the best possible chance to compete.


Yes, you may be completing a lot of applications at the moment but by simply finding and replacing the name of a law firm is lazy and recruiters can always tell.

If you are truly interested in working for a company, then do your homework and tailor your application to that firm. Talking about your passion to become a corporate lawyer on an application to a firm dealing solely with family law is going to get your application rejected, no matter how well it is written.

A good place to start is by reading through the company website and Googling the firm to find out the latest news stories. Further professional information can be found on Chambers and Legal 500.

All experience is good experience

Some people are fortunate enough to have gained some workplace experience in a legal firm. If you haven’t, don’t worry, it doesn’t mean that you are at a big disadvantage. Experience of any kind (voluntary or paid) is great. Remember, you’re not only going to work in a legal firm, you’re also entering the world of business. Being able to show that you have people skills or understanding of the commercial market is very valuable.

Check, check and check again

A well written application can be undermined by bad spelling and obvious mistakes. Spell checkers don’t always pick up on grammatical errors. Take the time to check your work. Even better, have a friend read it too.

You should also make sure that you have completed all of the required fields on the application form. The best form in the world can be rejected if you haven’t taken the time to complete all the fields.

Be honest

Portraying your experience and skills in the best possible light is one thing, lying is another and can have severe consequences for your career. Don’t risk it.

Ask for feedback

If you are unsuccessful in your application, don’t be scared to ask for feedback from the recruitment team. You might not want someone telling you everything you did wrong but the information could be invaluable and you are more likely to succeed on your next try.


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