Vacation Scheme/Training Contract Application Check List

VS and TC applications can seem really daunting. Often they look like a lot of work and research, and it can feel like a lot f pressure to get them perfect as you know this is the first thing you will be judged on by your potential future employer. To keep it short and simple, I’ve picked my four top points for my application checklist:

  1. Make your application specific to the firm you are applying for

Part of the reason I suggest only applying to between 4-6 firms is because filling in applications is not a generic, cut and paste job. Each application you make needs to be unique to the firm. Generally, they will ask you to fill in your CV information, A Level and GCSE results, and then normally they ask you a few questions that you have to answer. These vary from ‘tell us about a challenge facing law firms and businesses’ to ‘why this firm?’ or ‘why commercial law?

The most important thing when answering these questions is to think about the firm you are applying for. The best answers are ones that link the answer to the firm and to an issue that would apply to them specifically as well as other firms. For example, if the law firm specialises in relationships with China it is worth analysing challenges facing businesses and geopolitics in that region, as it links directly to what that law firm does.

2. Use the STAR method to answer questions about where you’ve showed a particular skill.

Sometimes you will be asked to write about a time you showed a particular skill, overcame a challenge or worked in a team. The STAR method is the most highly recommended structure to use for this because it makes sure that your examples are concise and to the point.

S situation: detail the background information for the background situation you were in

T task: explain what the task or challenge was at hand

A action: explain what you did and how you did, what skills or qualities helped you to do it

R result: discuss how your action enabled you to achieve the task and how successful it was – if it wasn’t that successful or ways you thought you could improve for next time, put that too! Law firms are interested to see that you can reflect on how a task has gone and how you could do an even better job next time. Self-reflection and self-awareness are key skills in all kinds of jobs and situations.

3. Go to grad recruitment events or law fairs to find out more about the law firm first hand.

Often they will give you handy tips for applying and you may even get the chance to discuss the first impression you got of their firm through meeting their recruitment team or trainee lawyers. Trust me, this isn’t like dating, looking keen is a good thing here.

4. Proofread, proofread, proofread.

I hear so many savage stories about applications that have gone straight in the bin because they have a few spelling mistakes or, because they couldn’t spell the law firms name properly! Take some extra time – not the night before the application is due – to check over what you have written. I generally get a friend or family member to proofread too just to be extra sure because a fresh pair of eyes can pick up on stuff you might have missed after reading it for the 100th time. Zzz. Also, check there are no mistakes in your grade inputs etc, or your phone number, email or address. It would be super embarrassing to get accepted only to find that they have been unable to contact you for three weeks until you checked the application portal.


And keep motivated! Don’t fret if you don’t hear anything for a few weeks, so many people apply for VSs and TCs so there is obviously quite a lot for recruitment teams to sift through. It doesn’t necessarily mean it is bad news. But regardless, remember that you are incredible, and that law is super competitive so a rejection is not a reflection on you not being good enough. Don’t don’t let it get you down, and remember that there is always a plan and there is something better for you waiting around the corner, even if it is not what you first planned. Lately I’ve been hearing about exciting new jobs coming up in law firms like legal engineers and innovation apprentices that are modern takes on jobs that need to be part of law firms and businesses to keep them progressing now and preparing for the future. If you are interested in alternative legal careers you can read more about them here:


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