You have studied hard, attained your law degree and you are finally ready to be a Trainee Solicitor. Now, all that is left to do is to find a traineeship! But, how exactly do you do that?
Importantly, the answer to this is not the same for everyone. For some, the answer is more straightforward than others. They may have always have dreamt of being a high-flying Commercial Solicitor and know that this is what they intend to pursue. For others, they may fancy themselves battling out cases in the criminal courts, while others yet may prefer to help clients purchase their perfect family home.
However, for the vast majority of graduates applying for traineeships fresh from university, the often unspoken truth is that they simply do not know which type of traineeship they wish to do. If that is you then do not fear! Below is some helpful guidance from one such Trainee who has encountered (and even survived!) this period of uncertainty.
Where do I find traineeships?
The good news is that there exists a vast array of places from which you may find that elusive traineeship. Commonly nowadays, there are countless online sources, including the Law Society of Scotland, Scottish Legal News and general job vacancy websites. Universities often advertise vacancies to their mailing lists and this is an extremely valuable resource. However, I would offer a word of caution: these traineeships will have literally hundreds of applicants, so do not put all of your eggs in one basket.
A less commonly tread (and more traditional) path is making speculative applications to firms who do not appear to be actively recruiting. This is a much more personable approach and shows that you have taken the time and effort to demonstrate your interest in that organisation. Even if those firms do not have a current vacancy, they may be willing to give you work experience and that is another avenue which may lead to a traineeship.
As always, do not underestimate the power of networking. While it may seem extensive, the legal profession is actually quite a small community and making some contacts can pay dividends. In our ever-developing online era, remember to check firms’ social media channels for potential vacancies.
Is this a traineeship for me?
Crucially, the single most important piece of advice for anyone searching for a traineeship is to make sure that it is a traineeship which interests you. There is absolutely no point in doing a traineeship which does not appeal to you – you will simply not be giving yourself the best opportunity to demonstrate your own abilities. What’s more, you are unlikely to enjoy yourself and the experience may taint your opinion of working within the profession. In addition, do not forget that a traineeship is a two-way relationship: make sure it offers you what you want to get out of it.
Nevertheless, the law is indeed very vast and you should not narrow the scope of your search too much. To provide a practical example, I attained conveyancing experience during my studies and decided that I wanted to become a Conveyancing Solicitor. Fast-forward a year or so (and with some encouragement to instead pursue my advocacy skills), I am now a Trainee within a Court Department and thoroughly enjoy appearing in court on a regular basis.
How do I write my application?
You’ve selected a traineeship that you wish to apply for and now you are faced with the application form itself. This can be a daunting part of the process – the application form can appear quite overwhelming at first and you are challenged with questions beyond simply academic knowledge and rather of practical, commercial experience.
However, see this as the opportunity to sell yourself. It may seem silly, but it is a very common criticism of applicants that they do not sell themselves nearly enough. You have worked hard and attained all these achievements – do not be shy in narrating these. Employers will read hundreds of textbook answers, so be honest, be yourself and think outside of the box. While your university results are important, every applicant will have a law degree; detail what experience you have and what it is that sets you apart from the rest.
Read the firm’s website and any blogs they have posted. Ensure that you tailor your application to each firm and to each type of traineeship that you are applying for. Again, it may seem like stating the obvious, but have a second (and a third!) person re-read your application critically and do not leave writing your application until the last minute.
Though it may seem challenging and the volume of applicants is scary, you will secure a traineeship and be on your way to qualifying as a solicitor. Every solicitor has been through this process. Just remember to be yourself, employers appreciate this – and, after all, there’s no point in being someone you are not! Get ahead of the curve, think outside of the box and be pro-active.
For more information on current traineeships and other job opportunities within TC Young, please click here.