The route to achieving a training contract or solicitor apprenticeship is a competitive one – these tips are designed to prepare you for what is involved in the process and to help you stand out from the crowd.
The application form
This is the first stage in the process and probably the toughest as you will want to try and stand out against other applicants. The first way in which you can do this is to tailor your application to our firm, and we don’t mean to copy what you read on our website! Do your research. Of course you will want to look at our website and social media accounts, but where else can you find out information on what it’s like to work at Charles Russell Speechlys and the type of work that we do? Or have you had the opportunity to meet someone at the Firm? This will really help you answer the questions around why you are applying to us. We want to understand which areas of our work really excite you and why so have this in mind while researching.
Secondly, be yourself. Be honest about yourself and your experience and don’t write what you think we want to hear – trust us, we’ve heard that before! Demonstrate to us through your application what you are passionate about and why.
Next, think about using examples that put your best foot forward or show you going the extra mile. It’s a competitive process so how can you highlight experiences where you have challenged yourself and gone above and beyond? Think about showing a range of skills and how you achieved these, not just the end result – we want to see the journey you took to get there so try and talk practically with lots of verbs in the first person.
Work experience is a question we get asked about a lot – how much work experience is enough? Does it matter that I have no legal work experience? What we are looking for in your work experience section is that you are motivated and that you have developed skills that are needed in the workplace. Motivation can come in a number of ways. For example, if you have been lucky enough to secure some legal work experience it shows that you are motivated to pursue a career in law and may be useful in some of your reasoning as to why this is the career for you. However, we understand how difficult this can be and not everyone may have legal work experience. Likewise, having a Saturday job every week throughout your studies shows that you are motivated in your work and also demonstrates that you can juggle your studies whilst holding down a part-time job. You’ll have also developed lots of valuable transferable skills that we want to see such as teamwork, organisation or communication. Work experience can also include virtual experiences or events, open days or volunteering – it's always better to include something if you’re not sure it 100% counts as it shows us more about you than leaving it out. When describing your work experience, whether legal or non-legal, you should explain what you did and what you learnt so we can get a real feel of what you gained during your time there.
Finally, attention to detail is key. Make sure to check, and double-check your application before submitting it. You wouldn’t want poor spelling or grammar to hinder all of your time and effort.
The video interview [not applicable for apprentices]
We completely understand how daunting video interviews can be and they can take a lot of getting used to. This is not a live interview, instead you will be asked to record answers to a set of questions using your webcam or mobile device using an online platform. You can record your answers in your own time, usually within a window of one week.
Preparation is key for the video interviews. For each question you can only record your answers once so there is no second chance. You get around 60 seconds to prepare and 90 seconds to answer each of the questions. To help with this, we recommend that you think in advance about what kind of questions you may be asked and prepare for these. The questions will be similar to those that you may experience in a face-to-face interview so may include competency or skill-based questions and questions about your motivations for pursuing a career in law. We may also ask you commercially focused questions – don’t panic, we aren’t expecting you to be a business expert, it’s more about showcasing your wider commercial interests and understanding of how the legal sector works. It sounds strange but practice by recording yourself answering example questions on your phone and watch it back. Be self-critical and think about how you can improve.
When completing the video interview, try to relax and enjoy the experience. Don’t worry if you trip over your words or the doorbell rings in the background, remain calm and continue with your answer.
The written task
The written task is part of the final stage assessment centre or placement scheme but we will often ask you to complete this in advance of the assessment day so you can complete this virtually through an online platform. Our written task is designed to get you thinking about client and commercial issues alongside demonstrating strong written and analysis skills. We appreciate everyone will have a different level of legal knowledge, so we won’t be assessing you on this element. One key consideration is planning your time so that you have enough left at the end to review your work before submitting. Attention to detail is key again here.
The assessment centre
The assessment centre is the final stage in our process and is your opportunity to demonstrate your skills and enthusiasm. You will take part in a variety of group and individual activities which will include a face-to-face interview with a Partner and an Associate or member of HR.
Preparation is key. We want to see that you are passionate not only about the law, but also about us as a firm. You will have researched the firm when you first applied but make sure you go through this again. We don’t test your legal knowledge as we understand that you may not have had exposure to legal training, either through your studies or work experience. Instead, we are assessing your potential and the skills that you would need to become successful lawyers. Make sure you are up to date on what is going on in the news so that you are able to demonstrate your commercial awareness.
The assessment centre is a two-way process. As much as we are assessing you, you will also want to assess us to see whether you can see yourself working here. On the day you will meet with trainees and partners from across the firm so think about what questions you may want to ask them. It also shows that you are interested in us.
Finally and most importantly, be yourself. We celebrate individuality so we want to get to know you. Try to relax and enjoy yourself.
We are able to make adjustments for those who require it at any stage of the application process. We encourage you to get in touch with our Early Talent team if you think this might apply. It’s important to us that you have the right arrangements to perform at your best so if you aren’t sure, it’s always best to ask and we are happy to help.