Online Applications

Welcome to the first step of securing a Vacation Scheme or Training Contract! In this blog you’ll find my top tips when it comes to online applications.

Keeping track of deadlines

My top tip for keeping track of application deadlines is to create a spreadsheet/table/equivalent which contains the name of the firm, the deadline, and the link to the online application. This was you can keep track of which firms you’re applying to, have applied to and what deadlines are coming up!

Have a work experience ‘filler’

Although the application forms for firms vary, to make the process as efficient as possible, I recommend having a word document (on Word/equivalent) which lists all of your work experiences. Write around 300-500 words for each one explaining the tasks you completed, the responsibilities you were given and what you learned. It’s much easier to edit and keep track of the word limit.

Most applications I’ve completed have a word limit in the box and I’ve never seen one with over 500 words per experience. I would also write this is prose as opposed to having bullet-points because it’s much easier to change from prose to bullet-points than the other way around, should the application form specifically ask for bullet-points. Use bullet points if the word limit is on the lower side (200-300 words).

Once you have this document, you can easily copy and paste your paragraphs into the appropriate part of the application form. This saves you having to re-write the same content for each firm’s application or having to open multiple application forms to copy and paste from there.

Skills-based questions

If the application form has a set of questions for skills, plan your answer carefully.

Common questions are based on:

  • Organisation
  • Time management
  • Capacity management
  • Teamwork
  • Innovation/creativity

I always find it quite good to have a couple of examples written up and then you can choose your strongest one to put in the application. Where possible, try and avoid using the same work experience example so try and use different ones for each skills question if you can.

Firm/position based questions

You must carry out research on the firm or position you’re applying to. There will typically be questions on:

  • What made you interested in commercial/family/criminal law?
  • Why have you chosen this firm?
  • What qualities do you think makes a good solicitor?
  • What values do you have that make you suitable for this firm?

Commercial awareness

You must demonstrate a level of commercial awareness in your application. The firm may ask you directly in questions such as “what do you think are the biggest challenges to the legal market?” or it may be something more broad and general. Commercial awareness can also be used when answering questions like what areas of the law you’re interested in and why you’re pursuing a career in commercial law.

If you’re not sure what commercial awareness is or how to develop it, click on the button to take you to my commercial awareness blog and find out!

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Good luck!

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