HOW TO APPLY TO A LAW FIRM: TIPS FROM CLIFFORD CHANCE, HEWITSONS, AND SHEARMAN & STERLING LLP FUTURE TRAINEES
Ladies, application season is upon us! The months of blood, sweat, and tears churning out essays, sitting through long lectures, and burying your head in your books have led up to this moment. We at WCAN understand how daunting the process can be, so we reached out to 3 incredible women who have been through the application process and have been successful (securing training contracts with the likes of Cliifford Chance LLP, Hewitsons LLP, and Shearman & Sterling LLP) to give you some advice on how to apply to a Law firm!
Our first interviewee is Raifa Rafiq, who graduated with an English degree from Queen Mary University, and took the GDL route to Law.
Although she studied English at university, Raifa found herself interested in Law, and from her first year at university she set about finding opportunities to draw her closer to her goal of becoming a Solicitor.
From her first year of university, she ensured she planned the steps she was going to take to reach her goal. Her first point of action, attending different open days held by law firms, including Clifford Chance and BLP.
Raifa explains that at these open days, she took the time to network, and make herself likeable to future colleagues, “By attending networking events, you make yourself visible to the firm, for example, Clifford Chance keeps a record of students who’ve attended their networking events through the email sign-up." At each event, she signed up to the mailing list. This meant that when looking at her application, the company can see she’s frequently engaged with them, presenting her as an eager and favourable candidate.
Before securing a training contract from Clifford Chance LLP, she managed to get on to MacFarlane's Vacation Scheme, a brief 4-day scheme at Clifford Chance, and their winter vacation scheme for non-Law students (which, unfortunately, no longer exists). To boost her CV, seeing as she wasn’t from a law background, she engaged in several extra-curricular activities.
When asked about her top tips for securing a training contract, Raifa explained:
We caught up with Motunrayo Adeeyo, a Law Graduate from the University of Warwick.
Motunrayo had always pursued a career in Law, as a Barrister, however she changed her mind in her final year, wanting to become a Solicitor. In her first year of university, she secured a vacation scheme with Hewitsons LLP, a 1-Day shadowing experience at the Criminal Justice Centre, and a mini pupillage at the Senate House Chambers.
During her second year, she secured more summer work experiences. She was offered 4 mini pupillages, and decided to do 3 (Senate House Chambers, St Mary’s Chambers, and St John’s Chambers). To boost her CV, she engaged in extra-curricular activities, for example, becoming a university Campus Ambassador, and the BPP Campus Ambassador.
At the end of her pupillages, she decided she wanted to be a Solicitor, so she applied to different Law firms. In her final year, she was offered a training contract at Hewitsons LLP, an offer she deemed lucky to have had, given much of her experience had been mini pupillages.
When asked about her top tips for securing a training contract, Motunrayo explained:
Lastly, we interviewed Jeniz White, a law Graduate from the University of Leicester.
Jeniz had always pursued a career in Law, as a Solicitor, and strongly believes networking and work experience are key to a successful application. Having obtained a breadth of work experiences (seriously, check out her CV), Jeniz secured a training contract with Shearman & Sterling LLP in her final year of university.
Much like our previous interviewees, Jeniz stresses the importance of securing vacations schemes and how reputable it makes a candidate look to a Law firm. Firms like MishCon de Reya LLP offer 100% of their training contracts through their vac schemes, other firms, around 80-90%.
When asked about her top tips for securing a training contract, Jeniz explained:
In summary, here are the key messages from the ladies (plus a few of our own):