Andrea Gallo is the HR officer at Accutrainee, which is based in London. He has been working for Accutrainee for two years.
First, Accutrainee is not a law firm – we don’t offer legal services or vacation schemes. Instead, we focus on offering unique training contracts where our trainees go on secondments and work in both law firms and in-house teams, experiencing many different areas of law.
Throughout the two years, we fully support the development of our trainees with, among other things, a dedicated mentoring programme. Each trainee is assigned an Accutrainee mentor, who is an invaluable resource throughout their training, offering support and guidance at each step.
It’s also important to note that candidates can apply for a training contract or qualifying work experience with Accutrainee at any time of the year as we’ve done away with frustrating deadlines! Trainees start their journey with us in any month of the year. If a candidate’s application is successful, their training contract could start within a couple of weeks!
The selection process is straightforward. It includes a cover letter, CV and candidates are required to answer a few questions about themselves. At the next stage, candidates attend a HR interview and if successful they will be invited to an assessment centre. Once successful, we will add candidates to our pool and will start matching them with secondment opportunities based on their preferences.
We kept onboarding trainees and starting new training contracts throughout the pandemic – the selection process was not once put on hold, although we switched to remote interviews and assessment centres due to lockdown.
Candidates should prepare for the competency-based questions, work on their presentations and be prepared to answer questions on what they present on. They should be ready to explain their action plan and strategy for securing a training contract in the interview.
That means showing that they have at least thought about the type of firm, culture, size and area of law they might be interested in. Candidates should demonstrate that they know what it takes to be a good trainee. We look for candidates who show they have a passion for the profession and are determined to succeed.
Diversity and inclusion are very important issues for the entire legal profession. Accutrainee launched in 2012 with the goal of removing existing barriers to help candidates enter the profession, offering them an innovative and ground-breaking way to qualify as solicitors. We were driven by the clear need to diversify the trainee pool and create opportunities for graduates in a market where it seems increasingly difficult to do that. At the same time, we wanted to ensure that legal service providers had access to a diverse talent pool.
In terms of diversity, 42% of our current trainee cohort identify as Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic, while 65% graduated from universities outside of the Russell Group.
In early 2021, we also launched the Accutrainee scholarship programme, providing candidates from minority backgrounds with the opportunity to have their solicitor examinations funded, while completing their Qualifying Work Experience (QWE) with our clients. The programme was launched with the intention of helping candidates achieve their dream of becoming qualified solicitors. The candidates are also fully supported by the quality development programme at Accutrainee.
Ironically, in the past nine years since Accutrainee’s launch, the model we introduced to the legal profession mirrors the SQE’s QWE. The QWE offers trainees more flexibility than the previous route to qualifying in terms of gaining their two-years’ experience at different firms; however, this flexibility has already been implemented at Accutrainee and is what we have been offering candidates since we launched, paired with our expertise in training, nurturing and mentoring trainees.
Therefore, I think it’s safe to say there can be no other organisation more familiar and experienced in helping candidates through the new SQE route and in particular, QWE than Accutrainee. For us, it’s business as usual.
Our focus is on helping future lawyers gain quality QWE through our secondments to not just help them successfully pass SQE 2 but to develop into outstanding solicitors.
But perhaps what’s most exciting is having recognised the inevitable confusion the SQE will create, we have been working hard to develop a dedicated platform which will act as a one stop shop for all aspiring solicitors guiding them through their qualification journey, answering their questions, helping them record, monitor and assess their QWE and even helping them to secure opportunities to complete their QWE. Anyone who wants to find out more about our exciting new platform should sign up to our newsletter.
Candidates who do not write a bespoke cover letter let themselves down. It’s important for candidates to explain the reasons why they’re applying to that specific firm. For example, what is it about Accutrainee’s unique model that appeals to them? It’s also crucial to demonstrate excellent attention to detail, so avoid any silly mistakes and typos in the application.
Candidates can also talk about their passion for law – for example, what inspired them to pursue this career. They should outline their goals, what they want to achieve from a career in law, highlight their skills and explain how they feel they can be applied to a trainee role.
All lawyers should be able to demonstrate commercial awareness. In the application, candidates can talk about what they have done to improve their commercial awareness (eg, seminars, activities, articles they’ve read or experiences they’ve had). We will assess commercial awareness during every stage of our selection process.
We do attend law fairs. The goal is to give candidates a sense of our uniqueness. So, we use law fairs as opportunities to not only explain our unique model – including the diverse opportunities, secondments in-house and with law firms, as well as our mentoring programmes – but to also offer advice on making a successful application.
We always bring our trainees along to these events because it’s so important for candidates to hear first-hand from someone who has gone through the process and is now doing the training contract.
Accutrainees must be ready to hit the ground running as they will be seconded to different firms and in-house legal teams where they will be given unusually high levels of responsibility.
If meeting new people, experiencing different environments and challenges sounds exciting, then Accutrainee is the right place for you! You will benefit from top-quality work, diverse experiences and dedicated support throughout.