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I wasn’t offered a vacation scheme – what now?

updated on 03 May 2022

Dear Oracle

All my vacation scheme applications have been rejected. What do I do now?

The Oracle replies

Reading time: four minutes

Getting rejected from vacation scheme or training contract applications is, unfortunately, very common and completely normal. But this doesn’t stop the rejection letter from hurting when you receive it!

As tough as it seems, you must be able to accept this rejection, take any feedback on board, and come up with potential alternative future plans. This final step is definitely the hardest, as it has long-term and possibly life-changing consequences.

If you’re facing this period of rejection with another year of university still in front of you, then you can take a deep breath and know that you have another possible round of applications to complete (and hopefully be successful in) before you graduate.

While this rejection may ultimately mean you have a gap year between your degree and studying for the Legal Practice Course or Solicitors Qualifying Exam, this can often be a good thing.

A year is often just the right amount of time to find alternative work and/or travel without feeling panicked because you’ve not secured your dream legal job yet. The rejection you’re facing now is still going to be hard to swallow, but it means you have a free summer in which to strengthen your applications for next year.

Need some motivation? Read this LCN Blog on how to handle rejection: ‘Rejection rejection – you are in control’.


Consider volunteering to help to develop your teamwork skills, get a summer job to help demonstrate commitment, or write to smaller and more local law firms to enquire about shadowing experience they might be able to offer you.

Read this LCN Says to find out the skills you could gain from volunteering for pro bono work.

If this rejection means you will be graduating with no imminent legal career plans already in place, the main emotion you’re likely feeling right now is panic. Graduating without an internship or  job offer is scary, but it’s an experience shared by many people – law and non-law graduates alike. You’re not alone!

Read this Feature: ‘Application rejections, illness, CV gaps: advice from aspiring lawyers going through the process’ to hear from aspiring lawyers, whose route into law was delayed because of the pandemic.

Alternative routes

Now is a good time to research alternative legal paths to the traditional solicitor and barrister routes, as well as other potential career options which use similar skills. The opportunities – both within and outside the legal sphere – are endless and having a chance to re-evaluate your options is rarely a bad thing.  

Interested in alternative legal career options? Read this Oracle post to get some inspiration: ‘The Oracle: What career choices do I have with a law degree?

If you’re still passionate about re-applying for training contracts in the future, consider applying for paralegal positions. While some firms may limit these roles to qualified paralegals, many still offer paralegal-type roles for those holding just a law degree or relevant experience.

Check out LCN’s Jobs page for paralegal vacancies or visit our legal apprenticeships page for paralegal apprenticeship vacancies.

These roles can also have the huge advantage of being flexible if this is important to you – ad hoc paralegal placements such as those facilitated through Flex Legal are a great way to test the waters and see if the legal life really is for you. Not only does a paralegal job give you some great experience to talk about in future applications, but it also often allows you access to internal training contract application processes.

To find out more about being a paralegal, read this LCN Feature: ‘Paralegal work: a guide for future solicitors’.

Bethany Barrett (she/her) is an LCN blogger, LPC student and future trainee solicitor at Addleshaw Goddard