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The Oracle

Started LPC, but no training contract in sight

updated on 16 September 2013

Dear Oracle

I've just started my LPC. This summer I applied to 20 firms for training contracts and had three interviews but didn't score - what do I do now?

The Oracle replies

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

First, let's check that you're being as strategic as you need to be. Twenty applications is quite a lot - are you sure that you spent enough time thoroughly researching and tailoring each one? It is generally better to make fewer applications so that you are able to spend more time on each one – it’s crucial that every application is thoroughly researched. One recruiter we spoke to summed it up by saying that each application should be a love letter to that particular firm.

In terms of your interviews, have you thought carefully about your interview technique? Did you ask for feedback afterwards? If not, you should definitely ask for it now as recruiters are the best people to help you improve. You should also check out our advice on phone interviews, plus our tips for tackling the partner interview stage of your training contract application.

Now is the best time to refocus - and perhaps redouble - your efforts. It's the season for law fairs and firm presentations, and the application systems for work placement schemes are open. Visit the LC.N Diary for listings of the major fairs and presentations. Make sure you're going to a few law fairs and talking to real lawyers, especially those at the firms you're applying to. Try to get an understanding of exactly what recruiters are looking for. The new edition of The Training Contract & Pupillage Handbook will soon be available at your course provider's careers service, so be sure to pick up a copy.

Finally, don't be afraid to reapply to the firms that rejected you. Candidates often wonder whether that's good practice but hear this: not only is it recommended, many firms in fact welcome reapplications. It shows commitment, perseverance and, hopefully, improvement; ideally you'll have supplemented your CV with more experience and credentials by the time you reapply.