Choosing the right firm to complete your compulsory training contract with is a difficult decision, possibly even more difficult that choosing the right university to study at. Not only will you be investing 2 years with the firm, but they will be investing in you- to them you are considered a future partner of the firm. They are making as much of an investment in you as you will be them. As with any career you must choose a suitable place in which you will feel comfortable and yourself, a place you will be able to effectively communicate with colleagues and clients and a place you will enjoy being at. After all you will be spending plenty of sleepless nights and days as well as 2 years and possibly more with them.
There is no hard fast rule on choosing the perfect firm, however, many firms recommend completing a vacation scheme or attending open days to see if you get on with your future employees and also to see if the firm practices in areas of law you like and can see yourself working in.
My next tip would be to e-mail or call the firm and asking questions. Even giving them a quick google or Linkedin search would suffice, find out the size of the firm, the location, typical hours spent in the firm, practice areas, recent deals and cases the firm has carried out. Researching the firm will allow an insight into the runnings of the firm. It is pivotal that research is carried out on the firm if you intend of attending an open day or vac scheme and indeed in applying for a training contract.
When applying for a training contract consider whether you want a global, national, regional or US firm or local. There are so many options and making sure you pick the right size is important, consider whether you enjoy travelling and would like to go on an international secondment, whether you want to stay in your home country and deal with claims inside that country. Deciding whether you enjoy staying in your home town and living close to family, in that case you may want to consider a local firm, something like your everyday high-street firm. If you are considering a US firm, think about what you have to offer- you will likely be competing with international students too for a place. If you are considering a global firm somewhere with firms in 6 different countries, consider if you are able to speak another language and cant offer language skills, they are very valuable in this multinational world.
Another important thing to consider is whether the firm offers funding for the GDL and/or the LPC. Big firms such as the magic circle firms- Linklaters, Clifford Chance, Macfarlanes and DAC Beachcroft all offer funding. Many graduates find it difficult to find training contracts having paid thousands for and LPC with no guarantee, so it is advised to consider the cost of funding the LPC without a training contract lined up.
When considering where to complete your training contract, you should think about what laws you are interested in. If it’s criminal you should consider your local firms, rather than a commercial firm. However, if you are interested in commercial law and business, then you’d probably be a good fit in a commercial firm/ magic circle firm. If you are more into real estate and property then a national firm would be a good idea to consider also. It’s about knowing the firm and yourself before applying.
I would also advise practicing answers for the applications, think to yourself- why you, what do you have to offer? Many firms get well over 1000+ applications for 30 spaces, so think what makes you stand out. Do you volunteer? Do you enjoy gardening? Do you enjoy fighting for justice? Are you a keen sportsperson? Do you enjoy travelling? Can you speak any other languages? And obviously, be commercially aware. Read articles on the financial times, the economist, legalcheek etc.
It well known that there are more law students/graduates and trainee solicitor hopefuls than training contracts, so make sure that before you apply you consider these things because becoming a solicitor is not only an investment of time, but also money. Do your research and be aware.