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 application forms. 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.
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. 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.
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. 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 are able to juggle your studies whilst holding down a part time job. 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. 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 system called Launchpad. 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 also only get a limited amount of time to prepare and answer each of the questions. To help with this, we recommend that you think about what questions you may be asked and have answers prepared for these. The questions will be similar to those that you may experience in a face-to-face interview so may include competency based questions and questions around your motivations for pursuing a career in law. 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 final stage before an assessment centre or vacation scheme is a written task. This will be done through an online platform but we will be on hand if you have any questions. Our written task is designed to get you thinking about client and commercial issues alongside demonstrating strong written skills. We appreciate everyone will have a different level of legal knowledge so we won’t be assessing you on this element. One key element is planning your time so that you have enough left at the end to review your work before submitting.
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 law, either through your studies or work experience. Instead, we are assessing 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.