Insight from a solicitor-turned-legal journalist, writer and author
Top lawyer’s top tips applying to law firms
Aspiring trainee solicitors applying for training contracts frequently fall at the very first hurdle by sending off a sloppy application and CV. And this is unforgiveable.
“A carefully crafted CV is an indicator of good judgement, a vital quality in a lawyer.” So writes top family lawyer, Marilyn Stowe, writing in the current Solicitors Journal (‘Just the job’ SJ 155/23) (I’m not giving the link as it’s for subscribers only but your law library should have it). She talks about the CVs she receives on spec – and frankly, how awful some of them are.
The result it a concise piece on how not to apply to her law firm – the principles of which, of course, apply to all applicants to any law firm, whether you are applying for a training contract or senior solicitor position.
The anecdotal evidence is clear – many aspiring lawyers are singularly lacking in the realm of common sense when it comes to applying. But if they take note of her tips then the chances of employment with a firm will increase.
In short, avoid long personal experiences of the law; read and follow law firms’ guidance on how to apply; address it to the correct person only; avoid being too personal (favour Mr/Mrs/Ms instead of first names). DO send a covering letter with your CV. A well written, signed letter, preferably in fountain pen. Avoid the mail shot look. If your application gives the distinct impression that it could have been sent to a hundred other firms then don’t waste your time – or theirs.
Avoid irrelevancies in your CV: Ms Stowe isn’t interested in what sports prizes you won in your early school days. And nor will anyone else.
Do include relevant, concise details about your professional and academic achievements, and your personal qualities. But for goodness sake, avoid slagging off a former firm.
Quite frankly, I do think that if aspiring solicitors (or, indeed, qualified lawyers) need spoon feeding with this then they’re not cut out to be lawyers. But at least their applications will be rejected, paving the way for those who have the brains and the common sense to submit a thoroughly researched and properly written application.
Marilyn Stowe’s Blog: www.marilynstowe.co.uk