Application advice for a non-law student

Dear Oracle

I'm in my final year of a non-law degree and have yet to take the GDL – will recruiters take into consideration that someone like me will not have a textbook understanding of the law, or is the application process harder or different in any way for non-law students?

The Oracle replies

Don’t worry, being a non-law student does not put you at a disadvantage when applying for training contracts - many law firms are just as interested in recruiting trainees who have not studied law at undergraduate level. As a non-law student, it takes more initial effort to understand the industry, battle legal acronyms and appreciate the unique timeframes of the legal recruitment cycle, but once you have done the necessary research you will be in a good position to apply for vacation schemes and a training contract.

Recruiters do not expect candidates who are only in the middle of their non-law degrees to have the same knowledge as, for example, applicants who are currently studying the LPC. Some firms run separate assessment days and interviews for non-law applicants and these will of course not be exactly the same as those for law students and graduates. It is therefore important to demonstrate your strengths, as firms will be looking for personable people with good communication skills, intellectual ability and common sense.

Developing commercial awareness will also be important, but this does not mean that you need to understand all the technical details of how law firms and businesses operate - it means that you should keep up with business news so that you are able to offer considered opinions when it comes to interview or a business scenario at an assessment day.

Ultimately, the application process presents the same challenges to you as it does for a law graduate – you need to conduct detailed research to learn about the profession and identify potential employers to which to apply. Your lack of technical legal knowledge will not be disadvantage at this stage, as recruiters are looking for candidates with potential and good key skills, such as academic aptitude, communication and team work.

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