Training Contract SelectionPublished on: 16 September 2020
After all the late nights, coffee and frantic searches of your workshop notes trying to recall the cost consequences of failing to beat a defendant’s Part 36 offer, the obligatory LinkedIn graduation posts, you finally wave farewell to the academic period of your legal career. Then, if you’re anything like me, the search to secure your training contract begins.
You hunt for the upcoming application deadlines, subscribe to all the latest commercial awareness newsletters you can find and join the ranks of your fellow graduates in the search to find the golden ticket that is your training contract.
When I began applying to firms, I soon found it was the norm to be subjected to abstract assessments concocted by Messrs Watson Glaser. I was presented with endless multiple choices to assess my verbal and logical reasoning, each one an attempt to obliquely determine my suitability through a series of ones and zeroes. I began to see my career in law as a never ending list of lettered and numbered choices and my future employers as statisticians, reviewing every remark I made and running it through a system which processed my character and whether it was ‘optimal’, according to current industry trends.
That was until I applied to Lanyon Bowdler. For the first time in my search for a training contract I found a firm that was interested in me. Rather than being asked what order I would respond to events in a hypothetical situation, they wanted to know who I was and what I could do. I sat down and, for what felt like the first time, prepared my application based on my background and skillset.
To my excitement, I received an invitation for an interview. I say ‘interview’ but the whole process felt like a chat with genuine people who wanted to get to know you. I was fortunate enough to be asked back for a second interview where my practical knowledge of the law was assessed, although not through abstract scenarios which were run through an algorithm and scored as a percentage – as had been my experience before – but through talking about a case study with real lawyers who had years of experience and who understood there was more than one answer to a situation.
As a mature candidate, having completed my LPC at 32 years old, I had a great deal of practical experience on my CV, which the interviewing partners were keen to discuss and which would not necessarily have translated through the impersonal approach adopted by a majority of firms.
Lanyon Bowdler’s Approach
The personal approach that LB takes in selecting its trainees is its greatest strength. You meet the partners early on; they talk to you, on a personal level, and see what sort of candidate you are for themselves. I remember, during my first interview, being told the reason the firm takes this approach is because they aren’t picking faceless trainees who just check boxes and don’t have any stake in the work they perform, they’re choosing future associates and partners.
I’ve found this ethos to be true in the work I had the privilege of completing during my training period. From my first seat I was involved in high level work which, admittedly, at first was daunting but I always had a direct line to my supervising partner and other experienced solicitors, so I was never put in a situation where I was out of my depth.
The team at LB wants to develop you to be the best solicitor you can. I found, during my training, that I was exposed to all aspects of life in practice; I was encouraged to take part in networking and business development early on and discovered that life in practice is more than just drafting, note taking and research. I was taught about the importance of making connections with clients and seeking out new business; not to just rest on your laurels and expect work to come to you.
At every point in my training I felt as if I were put at the centre of decisions, I was able to meet with partners regularly and have a say in which department I would gain experience in next. I felt I was able to shape my training to suit the career I wanted, and was actively encouraged by the firm to do so.
After all the time, effort and care which had gone into my training I felt I was ready to take on life as a newly qualified solicitor and was delighted to be given the opportunity to do so as a dispute resolution solicitor at Lanyon Bowdler.
For more information, please visit our training contracts page.