Often the first piece of advice graduate recruitment will give you is to really research law firms and to apply to the ones you can truly see yourself at.
It’s important to remember that it is a two-way process: while you may be eager to secure a training contract, firms are equally as eager to attract candidates. This is a good reminder that the process of finding a law firm is largely about you and what is right for you.
Getting to know a firm
Firstly, it is important to do some background research on firms before you apply. Researching online can give you a good insight into law firms and their culture. Law websites like the Law Society, LawCareers.net, allaboutlaw.co.uk and targetjobs.co.uk are all great resources for general traineeship advice and to see who is recruiting. Platforms like the latter three regularly produce blogs with various tips and pointers and often have features with different firms. They help highlight what, and who, is out there. Furthermore, subscribing to their email updates for notifications of traineeships and general legal information can be useful.
However, it is important to note that often online research does not give the full picture or allow you to really get the feel of firms. While networking may at first be a daunting task, it can be invaluable at the beginning of your qualification journey and throughout your career. Law fairs provide a vital opportunity to meet the people of a firm and hear first-hand what it is like working there. The stands help demonstrate a firm’s brand and speaking to their employees can highlight what the firm values.
The culture and values of a firm
‘Culture’ and ‘values’ are buzz words when firms promote themselves and it is understandable why. They tend to reflect the core intentions of the firm and how they wish to both carry themselves and operate. It drives recruitment and enables a firm to foster their desired environment throughout their offices. It can be the difference between a happy or unhappy place to work. A firm’s culture sets the tone of the office: how employees interact and communicate with each other; the dynamic between different levels of seniority and the additional hours expected from employees.
Insight evenings are often the best place to witness a firm’s culture without working at the firm. Not only do they provide you with top tips for applications, they also allow you to hear from the people behind the firm. They are often a good opportunity to see the office and how the culture is reflected in their space. Importantly, they allow you to introduce yourself to the firm and build relationships. As a result, insight evenings can be a stepping stone to securing a vacation scheme and witnessing the firm’s culture in greater detail. A vacation scheme will enable you to truly get a feel of the firm; the type of work you’d be given as a trainee and the atmosphere of the office.
A good fit for you?
However, again, it is important to remember it is not just about the firm, it is about you and how you will fit into their culture. An environment that suits your way of working and learning is important, especially for a training contract. With so much to take in and experience, feeling happy, supported and valued at work is key.
In my case, seeing the values Shoosmiths promote being implemented throughout was vital. The approachability and friendliness of individuals I met throughout my application process helped me feel comfortable, even on an assessment day! Hearing from trainees who are genuinely happy with both the quality of work they are given and the atmosphere they work in, for me, was crucial. The Shoosmiths culture ensures you are given countless opportunities to learn and progress with the knowledge that support is always there when needed.
Ultimately only you will know what firm is right for you, but in order make this decision it is important to research a firm and get a real feel for their culture.
For more advice on researching a law firm and finding the right one for you, read Amy’s blog post.
If you’d like to apply for a training contract at Shoosmiths, click here.
For anything else you, you can contact the graduate recruitment team via twitter or email.