Firms are increasingly talking about candidates who are ‘well-rounded individuals’. Gone are the days where simply getting good grades, and being able to present yourself well, was enough to land a coveted training contract spot. Without extra-curriculars, it is hard to show that you are more than just your grades (which firms still expect to be impeccable…) on an application form. With January exams coming to an end, the start of the new term is a great opportunity for you to explore some of these new activities!
1. Law-related activities
This one is the most obvious. Of course it will look impressive if you are an active member of your university’s law club, or if you have taken part in the mooting competition. It shows that you have been planning a career in law throughout your degree, whilst also giving you the practical skills needed to be a lawyer.
2. Public speaking
Firms need to know that they can place you in front of clients, and you won’t crumble at the thought of having to speak to a room full of people. Anything which encompasses public speaking, from acting to helping present events with any other society, can show this skill.
3. Quick thinking
Lawyers have to be able to think on their feet, and provide solutions quickly. Firms realise that this is a skill which will be mostly developed during a training contract, but if you can show basic aptitude for this, you will go far. Good examples of extra-curriculars which can demonstrate this are debating, acting and even activities which may involve tight deadlines, such as writing for a university magazine.
The most common way of showing an aptitude for this is through being part of a sports team. But if sports are not for you, being part of a musical group or committee of another society will also work well.
This can apply to just about any activity, as long as you lead an element of it in some way. This could be in a president or captain role, or just as leading one aspect of the activity - for example if you are part of the hiking society and you once organised and led a hike.
6. Anything which you genuinely enjoy!
A genuine passion for something shows through. While your law degree should still be a priority, spending time relaxing doing something else that you enjoy will be worth your time - not just because everyone needs a break sometimes, but also because enjoying an activity will mean that you are more easily able to discuss what it teaches you (even if you do not realise this directly!).
You may notice that these headings are not based on physical and specific extra-curriculars. This is because what firms are really looking for are transferable skills. Whilst legally-centred activities are always appreciated, if you can talk about the skills gained through another activity and how they will help you as a trainee, then firms will still be impressed. At the end of the day, they do not expect you to be a robot, and showing other interests will make you seem more personable, as well as giving you a topic to discuss during an interview.