It’s a tough market but you can make it.
Opting for a career in law is one of the most demanding yet intellectually and financially rewarding paths a student or recent graduate can take.
So how do you get there? One, be direct and succinct – smart people don’t need big words. Two, learn about the industry and what makes each law firm unique.
You need to see this as your pitch. You have 300 – 1000 words to convince the recruiter that you should be in the 5% of the people who make it to the interview. Congrapps has a database of 400+ previously successful cover letters and research has shown that those who failed were the same. All successful candidates on the other hand were different in their own unique way.
Be yourself and embrace your experiences and passion. At the end of the day, the law is an inclusive profession where background and prior experiences don’t matter as much as in Banking for example. It’s all about “why law”, “why X firm” and “why you”. Be honest and straight to the point – it’s not an exam or essay writing.
For those in the process of applying for a Vacation Scheme or Training Contract to a law firm in London, this question should ring a bell. It is the most obvious question law firms ask during both the application stage and the interview. Since you will have to answer this question more than once in your life, the team at Congrapps reviewed successful Training Contract applications and listed some of the reasons current trainees chose a career in law.
(1) One said, because of the relevant transferable skills developed up to that point (backed with past experiences). Transferable skills in that regard can be time-management, ability to perform under pressure, multitasking, prioritising or being proactive;
(2) Another was intrigued by the challenge associated with a career in law and working in a fast-paced environment (this apparently reflected the applicant’s personality and was backed by examples). This observation tends to be true. A law firm is indeed a fast-paced environment — that fast-paced sometimes you forget to sleep. However, if you decide to use such a general and cliché statement, you need to be able to back it up with solid examples.
(3) The most original answer had to do with the opportunity to create long-lasting client relationships (e.g. as opposed to one-off cases in criminal or family law);
(4) Another applicant mentioned the challenging nature of structuring M&A transactions as it appeared from open days and workshops he attended.
(5) Lastly, one mentioned the variety of work. It was mentioned explicitly that not a single day is the same.
Here is an extract of a candidate’s successful Vacation Scheme application with Latham & Watkins:
Why do you want to become a commercial lawyer?
“My enthusiasm to practice as a commercial lawyer derives from the consistency, excellence and trust required in order to build long-lasting client relationships. In commercial law, law firms act as business advisers who understand the strategy and guide clients throughout the whole spectrum of their business operations. Contrary to other areas of law where reputation is built through the provision of legal advice with regard to isolated incidents, in commercial law, a lawyer's success is judged by his ability to create and maintain long-lasting client relationships.
In addition, I am intrigued by the contractually heavy nature of commercial law. Within the operating framework set by legal rules and established case law, commercial lawyers are mainly guided by market practice. Accordingly, they are required to be proactive in order to come up with innovative and flexible solutions that address clients' current needs as well as future externalities. The challenging and intellectually intriguing nature of the above features mirror both my personal and professional development goals and motivate me to pursue a career in the field.
Lastly, my professional background allows me to compare a career in commercial law to other law-related career paths. Having experience working in start-ups, research and in-house positions, I am confident that opting for a career in commercial law constitutes a well-informed decision that perfectly reflects my personality and professional ambitions.”
In his response, the candidate demonstrates a great understanding of what commercial law actually entails, makes the distinction between the various types of law and options students may have and concludes with a vague and cliché statement (i.e. challenging and intellectually intriguing nature of commercial law). In this instance, it works well as he has already demonstrated his understanding of the work and because he connects it with his experience and career ambitions.
Want to see more verified successful applications? Click HERE to view successful Vacation Scheme and Training Contract applications for 69 different law firms, including the Magic Circle (Linklaters, Allen & Overy, Freshfields, Slaughter & May, Elite US, Kirkland & Ellis, Latham & Watkins etc. as well as many other UK and regional firms.
Click here to View