Securing a Traineeship

12 / 06 / 20

As a former University of Dundee student and member of DULS, I am now a first-year trainee at MacRoberts LLP and really enjoying my experience in the legal world so far. My first seat was in Projects and Infrastructure, in which I was exposed to a broad variety of work, and I am currently four months into my second seat in Commercial Real Estate. Having gone through the process of applying for and successfully securing a traineeship, I have been asked to discuss my experience and (hopefully) provide you with some useful advice. 

I thought I would start off by discussing summer internships. As someone who didn’t manage to secure an internship, I know the feeling of receiving rejection after rejection. While internships provide people with invaluable experience and a ‘foot in the door’ with firms, it is not the end of the world if you do not secure one. More and more, firms are looking for a breadth of working experience, and that does not necessarily need to be legal. I was lucky to do work experience with a number of different law firms. However, in a number of interviews, I was asked specifically about other non-legal working roles I held throughout my time at university. My advice would be to gain as much legal experience as possible, and where this isn’t possible, seek working roles that will improve your skills that are required in the legal profession. 

When it comes to applications, my advice would be to be both smart and efficient in which firms you apply to, and to how many. People may have differing approaches to this aspect of the process, but personally, I selected five firms to which I would apply for a traineeship. In doing so, I was able to really focus and dedicate time to these applications, in the midst of preparing for seminars and writing assignments (neither of which I miss at all). 

For those who are successful in making it to the interview stages, thorough preparation is paramount. I personally found the Careers Service at the University very useful in helping me prepare for the interviews, providing advice and also conducting mock interviews. While I am not an expert in interviewing skills, from my experience I have learned that it is important to have a good understanding of the workings of a firm as a whole, but also from a commercial aspect, in having knowledge of the firm’s direct competitors and its position within the legal market. 

Many firms may also require you to do certain assessments and psychometric testing, whether that be numerical reasoning or verbal reasoning. Again, it is very important to prepare for these tests, and there are numerous resources available online to do such. 

I just wanted to finish this off with the best piece of advice I received during my journey to gaining a traineeship, from a partner in a leading Scottish firm. Having just received another rejection for a summer internship, his advice was to look at every application, interview, assessment etc. as a step towards the end goal. This helped me power through the lengthy process of completing applications and interviews, eventually securing my traineeship with MacRoberts. 

Best of luck to you all! 

Douglas