“Who would be your ideal dinner guest?”, “If you were a superhero, who would you be?”, “If we caught you daydreaming at work, what would you be daydreaming about?” These are just a few of my personal favourites from a vast number of seemingly ludicrous questions that I have been asked since commencing the quest for that elusive training contract in the City.
It is unfortunate for me, along with the thousands of others of potential trainees that are in the same situation, that we are forced to give a dignified response to such questions, as we all want that training contract so badly.
I started my applications whilst undertaking the Graduate Diploma in Law. All fresh-faced and optimistic, I applied to a vast number of firms, from the Magic Circle to the niche boutique firms, spending my time copying and pasting my nonspecific, wishy-washy answers to each firm’s questions. With no legal work experience under my belt, it was impossible to answer questions such as “What area of law are you particularly interested in?” or “What sets our firm apart from our competitors?” Needless to say, the generic rejection emails rolled in, reflecting my hopelessly generic applications.
On completion of the GDL, I had fortunately managed to secure a number of work experience placements at both commercial firms and in-house legal departments. The placements were invaluable, not only for gaining an understanding of the inner-workings of a law firm and its particular departments, but also for the advice that I received from peers who had been through the same process that I was currently stumbling through. I came out with a renewed sense of hope and focus going into my LPC year.
If you take nothing else away from this blog and any of my future blogs, take this. The training contract application process is long and gruelling; there is no getting away from that. There will be times in which you think that a law firm is making a mockery of you with the questions that they ask. Nevertheless, do not treat each application as one and the same. Each law firm is different, and the application process is the firm’s way of acknowledging that you have appreciated this fact. As frustrating as it may be, research into every nuance of every firm is essential; the application should take days, not hours. If you take this on board, firms will want to interview you. Believe me.