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The Oracle

Will going travelling increase or decrease my chances of a training contract?

updated on 14 June 2022

Dear Oracle

I’m planning to take some time out to travel before starting a Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE) preparation course next year – how might this affect my chances of securing a training contract in the future?

The Oracle replies

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Whether you’ve gone travelling or not shouldn’t affect your chances of securing a training contract, but like most experiences, travelling can be used as a positive in your applications – depending on what you did and learnt.

For example, you might have been involved in an interesting job or project, or you might have spent time learning about the culture and language of a place you went to. All of this can be used to demonstrate all-important key skills on your legal application forms – such as adapting quickly to a new environment, teamwork and problem solving. Plus, experiences such as travelling can make great conversations at interview or assessment centres!

If you haven’t been travelling, however, don’t worry. All work and extracurricular experience can be used to demonstrate your skills and qualities and there’s no expectation that you’ll have had the opportunity to live out of a backpack for a few months. Perhaps a few years ago there might have been a stereotype that those entering the legal profession have all been lucky enough to have ‘gap years’ before or after university, but that certainly isn’t the case anymore. With diversity and inclusion at the forefront of many legal employers’ minds in 2022, it’s understood that assuming people are able to go travelling is a form of elitism.

For more on diversity in the legal profession, head to the Diversity hub sponsored by Gowling WLG (UK) LLP.

We’ve also previously heard from students who are concerned that taking time out to go travelling will damage their chances of securing a training contract because it shows a lack of commitment to a career in law. This is certainly not the case – recruiters would be concerned about how serious you are if you left the law to do something completely different for several years, but otherwise they’d simply be interested to know more about your travelling experiences if you did have them. And, after the past couple of years of navigating lockdowns and covid-19, we’re sure that nobody would begrudge you for wanting to see a bit more of the world now that you can!

Ultimately, securing a training contract won’t come down to whether you went travelling or not. Success in your applications will be decided by your academic and personal achievements and competence, your skills gained from legal and non-legal work experiences, and your passion for the law. Either way, good luck!

For stories of solicitors who took different paths into their careers at various types of law firm, see the Meet the Lawyer section.