Back to overview

The Oracle

I wasn’t offered a training contract this summer – what now?

updated on 06 September 2022

Dear Oracle

This summer I applied to 30 firms for training contracts and had two interviews, but wasn’t offered a training contract – what do I do now?

The Oracle replies

Reading time: three minutes

Don't be too disheartened. The legal job market is more competitive than it’s ever been before and there are hundreds, if not thousands, of prospective trainees in the same position.

Number of applications

First, let's check that you're being as strategic as you need to be. Thirty applications is quite a lot – are you sure you spent enough time thoroughly researching and tailoring each one? As a general rule, the candidates who apply to only a handful of firms tend be the candidates who meet with success.

Read this feature to see how you can demonstrate the key skills for law in applications.


In terms of your interviews, have you thought carefully about your technique? Did you ask for feedback? If not, you should ask for it now as recruiters are the best people to help you improve your applications.

For more help on preparing for applications and interviews, see this four-step training contract application master class and this 26-step guide to each stage of the process.

Don’t forget to check out LCN Says for how to fail your training contract interview in five easy steps so you know what not to do.

What next?

There are several facets that make an excellent application aside from flawless spelling and grammar.

Now is the best time to refocus – and perhaps redouble – your efforts. It's the season for law fairs and firm presentations, many of which will adopt a hybrid model. Applications are also open for many vacation schemes. See the LCN Diary for upcoming events.

Read this feature for a non-exhaustive list of law firm open days and insight schemes 2022-23

Make sure you attend law fairs and talk to lawyers and recruiters. Try to get an understanding of exactly what recruiters are looking for. The new edition of The LawCareers.Net Handbook will soon be available online and at your course provider's careers service, so make the most of this free, comprehensive resource.

Read up on how to prepare for law firm insight days and presentations.

Don't be afraid to reapply to the firms that didn’t progress your applications. Candidates often wonder whether that's good practice – but not only is it acceptable, many firms also welcome reapplications. It shows commitment, perseverance and, hopefully, improvement. That said, make sure you have supplemented your CV with more experience and knowledge by the time you reapply.

In addition to firm research, you may find it useful to do a bit of self-reflection. Did 30 different firms all honestly make for a good fit with your personality and specific ambitions? When applying to firms, be sure to know your CV and what you want. After understanding what you have to offer and what you yourself want from your working environment and career, you should then be able to identify firms that have these key criteria in common with you.

Researching law firms is such a crucial part of the process – read our tips to get you started.

Also check out the four areas of knowledge you need to get a training contract.

Finally, ask firms for feedback on any unsuccessful applications. Not all will oblige, but graduate recruitment teams are often more than willing to provide you with a full breakdown of your performance, which will no doubt be useful if you do choose to reapply to the same firm the following year.

Improve your application skills by reading this guide to writing the perfect cover letter, CV or application form.