Trainee Blog: Applying for a Training Contract without legal experience

Whilst it is helpful to have legal experience to include in your training contract application, it is by no means a pre-requisite. It is important when applying to remember that a firm will recruit candidates on their skillset and approach - your work experience is only one factor they will consider. Below are some key tips for those candidates who are concerned that they have little to no legal experience to include in their training contract application.

Transferrable skills

Transferrable skills can be practised and developed in all types of work experience, it does not have to be solely law-related. Whether working as a paralegal or working part-time in a restaurant, you will likely have to deal with conflicting priorities and learn to work in a pressured environment.  When completing training contract applications or taking part in an interview, it is essential that you are able to demonstrate these skills and link them to the key attributes that a successful solicitor must possess. Simply giving an example of an experience you faced will not demonstrate the skill. It is important to identify what you learnt from that experience and how you would apply those skills in the position of trainee solicitor.

Showing an interest

Where an applicant has no legal work experience, firms will be eager to see that the applicant demonstrates a keen interest in the legal industry and that they fully understand what a training contract consists of.  Be sure to research the specific industries and sectors that your chosen firm operates in and read articles the firm has published highlighting the work they have done in each of those areas. Not only will this improve your understanding of the type of work that firm does, but will also demonstrate a willingness to develop your knowledge and learn about the firm.

Non-work experience

If you have a lack of legal experience, it would be prudent to engage in the legal world outside of the workplace. This can take various forms and does not have to be not particularly time consuming. Useful and common examples of this include attending court for a day or signing up to various pro bono schemes that are widely available. For those commercially minded applicants, there are a host of other ways to get involved. There are often lectures and seminars held on various topics, including legal practice updates as well as sector specific commercial seminars. With the recent increased focus on remote working, these talks are now more accessible than ever. Such experiences will improve your understanding of the legal industry in the absence of any legal work experience.