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Atticus - My Christmas present to you

26/12/2012

26/12/2012 My Christmas present to you

So my first term of law school is over, the holidays have begun and Christmas is upon us. I’m a big advocate of having ‘proper breaks’ and so I’m very happy to be giving up all work between now and New Year to spend quality time with family, friends and sofa. However, the last few days have been exceptionally busy, as once again it’s Vacation Scheme Application Time. I know I’ve gone on about this a fair few times in my blog so far (if you’re bored of me in writing, pity those who share a house with me), but this is honestly because they’re really important if you want to become a solicitor (see here for more). And as this is prime time for filling in your application forms, I thought I would give you a Christmas present – my five top tips for the vac scheme process.

1. Research is absolutely vital
You would never write a uni essay without some idea of what you were talking about (I hope). So similarly, don’t try and attempt a form without researching the firm you’re applying to. This might sound obvious, but it’s so tempting to just crack on with the difficult bit – and trust me, understanding the firm’s practice areas, recent deals and general statistics will make answering the questions far easier. This also means that applying scattergun to hundreds of firms is not a good idea, as your answers will be noticeably generic.

2. Read the questions
Again, seemingly obvious advice, but this is so easy to forget and your omission can be spotted a mile off. Firms know you like cutting and pasting, that’s why they deviously alter the wording of questions to catch you out. So before you launch into a pre-prepared answer, just doublecheck you’re actually addressing what the firm are asking you to address.

3. Check for typos (again, and again, and again)
I know, I know, you’ve heard this all before – but hear me out on this one. I proofread. I get my mum to proofread. I leave it for two days. I repeat the above process. I finally send off the form. And yet, last year, when reviewing an application for an interview, I admit I noticed more than one typo. And ok, I did get past the first round, so it obviously wasn’t seen as a heinous crime. But who knows, the person reading your application might be less forgiving/more observant than mine…I wouldn’t want to take the chance.

4. Having other experience helps
What I mean here is that vacation schemes are hard to get onto and having some sort of experience that shows an interest in law really helps. So try and find a local solicitors’ firm you could spend a day or two in, or ask around and see if a lawyer is willing to be shadowed. I’m sure you can get a vac scheme without this, but having a week’s casual experience really worked for me, as it gave me something else to write about on my form or talk about at interview.

5. Clear your diary
This is probably the most important piece of advice and applies to those applying for training contracts as well. Don’t book your holiday until you find out about your vac schemes – you’ll need to be free in July for those. And if you are truly serious about getting a training contract, it pays to be in the country for most of August and September for interviews. 

Merry Christmas!

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