Traineeship Application Advice

10 / 06 / 20

Applying for traineeships is not a cut and paste job. While the process is similar for most firms; there is an application process, and assessment centre, and a final interview, every law firm is unique. With that in mind, here are my 5 top tips that I hope will help you secure that traineeship. 

  1. Personalise it!  Many people may say this, but it really is true.  Law firms, especially bigger ones, don’t want to hear that you have wanted to be a lawyer forever.  What they want to hear is what makes you different.  For example, if want to work at X firm because you want to live in Dundee, say so.  This is also good for an interview, as this can often develop into a good conversation whereby you can show your personality more naturally.
  2. Don’t just apply for bigger firms.  Stats show that firms with 1-5 partners have almost exactly the same number of traineeships as firms with 31 plus partners.  The difference is that smaller firms do not receive nearly as many applicants, and often only have one or two stages.  Consider In-house traineeships too, like RBS.  You get all the benefits of working at a massive company while still being a lawyer. The Law Society ‘find a firm’ feature is great for discovering small firms in the area/location you want to work in.
  3. Have patience. Be prepared for rejections, and don’t take them to heart.  Remember, the vast majority of people get traineeships during their diploma year and even later. Use what you learn in different process to improve and also figure out what you want.
  4. Have someone review your application, and then re-review it.  Again, perhaps a cliché but it is so true.  Ask someone who won’t be afraid to point out mistakes or parts of an application they think are weak. For interviews, filming yourself is a great idea.  It means you can look at physical tics or word repetition you may not know you have!
  5.  Be yourself, be confident in yourself.  Usually if you get past stage 1, the firm think you are good enough. The later stages are more about whether you are a good fit for the firm, and the firm is a good fit for you.  If you aren’t yourself, you may end up somewhere that is not right for you. So, make sure you take something away from the application processes too.

And finally- make connections.  Most trainees will be delighted to talk to you about their firm and experience.  It not only gives you a better idea of the firm but if you are invited to interview, you will have some insights to discuss, and be able to mention some of the connections you have already made. Solicitors are active on social media, so create a professional twitter and get following firms and solicitors, it will make you stand out! 

I am happy to chat to anyone about traineeships, and the (sounds weird having anyone and any again) process.  Feel free to get in touch on Linkedin – Duncan Shaw; Twitter – @regcompshaw or email –

Good luck!