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Submit a CV and fill out some application questions or a cover letter. These tend to include your goals and aspirations, as well as your outstanding qualifications and work experience. This does not need to be legal experience. In online applications, there is sometimes also one short question to complete, where we will be looking at your motivations for becoming a solicitor apprentice. Pay attention to the word count: it is there for a reason. Ask someone to proof read your application. When you’ve spent so much time on it, it can be easy to miss mistakes.
Some of the largest law firms also add an online immersive assessment as part of the online application which will probably contain scenario-based, numerical and verbal questions that aim to test areas like your adaptability, digital intelligence, applied intellect and creativity. These assessments may require you to give answers by video as well as inputting information by keyboard – the applicant provides a video response to a series of pre-recorded questions. A good tip on one law firm website is to have a calculator, pen and paper to hand before you begin.
Face-to-face, phone, or virtual interviews withlegal and/or HR professional at the employer. The larger law firm interviews tend to take place in two stages. The first interview may be documents-based and the second scenario-based. In a documents-based interview (sometimes called a ‘case study’), you will be asked to review some documents and then discuss points arising. Some law firms send out written or video instructions in advance to help level the playing-field. In scenario-based interviews you are asked a series of questions based on scenarios you may encounter, so, in this case, as a solicitor apprentice working in a law firm. The interviewers understand that you will likely have no experience of offices, they are simply looking for potential.
Every legal firm we consulted mentioned an additional recruitment phase at an assessment centre. This centre typically features various components such as a group debate, an interview with a firm partner, and an examination which evaluates capabilities essential for studying law. Furthermore, there is a chance to connect with existing solicitor apprentices and learn from their journeys. Collectively, these activities provide employers with a deeper understanding of your legal insight, communication abilities, and teamwork proficiency.
Dos and don'ts when applying for a solicitor apprenticeship
- Include any relevant work experience, for example, a retail job you have at the weekend or any internships you’ve done.
- Show your wider knowledge of the industry, like podcasts you’ve listened to or relevant YouTube channels you follow for research.
- Look at the company specialisms, for example financial, commercial or property law to discuss in the interview. It shows your understanding of the sector.
- Be generic. Tell the employer why you want to work for them specifically. For example, their values and projects they’ve worked on.
- Don't forget to say something memorable about yourself; it will make you stand out. This could be anything from the fact that you work night shifts to earn money, to explaining how you regularly play jazz piano in a hotel.
- Try and fit examples in where they don’t work. If an example doesn’t fit with the question, you’ll need to think on the spot in an interview.
What are legal and law apprenticeship employers looking for?
Skills are important, especially in client-facings law and legal roles. Legal professionals need to have the ability to retain complex information, stay calm under pressure, and have a keen eye for detail. Things you may have learned from project work, creative hobbies, or extra curricular recreational sports.
Although it's unlikely you will have any direct legal experience, employers will still want to know about your professional and personal background, and how the skills you've picked up, such as communication, organisation, commitment and resilience, are transferrable to a high stress legal environment. For instance, the pressures of working in hospitality in a busy seasonal period will build skills in time management, efficient multitasking, and maintaining composure under pressure.
What better way to display transferable legal skills than an insight into your hobbies and interests? For example, if you’re a keen reader, you hold the ability to focus and retain large quantities of written information, or if you're a sportsperson, you're ability to perform under pressure could be a star quality.
Working outside the classroom is a great example of your overall character, and if that's in a legal environment, even better. However, if you're involved in a sports team, you volunteer for a professional service, or you've undertaken recognised schemes like Duke of Edinburgh, it can be a perfect display of your commitment to achieving a difficult goal.
Law and legal firms are not expecting you to know the legal system inside-out. However, what they are expecting is a candidate who has thoroughly researched the specific apprenticeship, and the responsibilities it entails. So, make sure you do your research before applying, and if there's a contact on the application form, be sure to drop them a line and ask any questions that may have arisen during your research.
To give you a head start, we surveyed a number of law and legal firms to assess the types of interview questions they might ask.
- Can you describe the specific aspects of our six-year solicitor apprenticeship programme that motivated you to apply, and how do you see them aligning with your career aspirations?
- Reflecting on the research you've done about our firm and the legal industry, what unique challenges do you anticipate facing during your apprenticeship and how do you plan to tackle them?
- Tell us about a time when you had to demonstrate exceptional initiative in an academic, work, or extracurricular setting. How would you apply that initiative within the context of this apprenticeship?
- The apprenticeship is a substantial commitment. Can you provide an example of a long-term commitment you have made in the past and how you maintained your drive and motivation throughout?
An example of a cover letter section
From an early age I've been interested in the legal profession. What started as an obsession with UK and US courtroom dramas has since expanded into a keen interest into real-world aspects of law. My passions lie specifically in the area of property law, helping to ensure that transactions, exchanges, and contracts are correctly prepared for clients.
While I have worked in retail part-time over the past three years, I have gone out of my way to uphold policy documents and ensure that both the company and its employees are adhering to regulations whilst delivering a best-in-class service. This trait has led me to become a trusted source of knowledge, often providing training for other members of staff and regular stock check responsibilities across the business.
- Long-term Interest in law: Applicant has always been captivated by the legal world, a fascination that's grown from watching courtroom dramas to a focused interest in property law.
- Practical experience: In their retail background, they have been proactive about legalities, ensuring policy compliance and delivering top-notch service, showing their grasp of legal frameworks.
- Skills application: The applicant has modestly suggested they've become the go-to person at work for policy knowledge, training staff, and managing stock, indicating leadership potential and readiness for more structured legal training.
- Commitment to self-improvement: They have demonstrated a self-starter attitude by seeking out opportunities to educate themselves and others on regulatory practices, suggesting a commitment to continuous learning and self-improvement that's essential for the ever-evolving field of law.