Before applying for a firm’s vacation scheme or training contract, you need to do some research. This is important for two reasons:
- If recruiters see that you haven’t engaged with or found anything out about the firm (besides the information they put online) they’ll most likely reject your application. Firms want to see that you’ve taken the time to thoroughly understand who they are and what they do before you apply.
- Research will help you to identify whether a firm could be for you or whether you should apply somewhere else.
We suggest using the set of questions below (originally from The University of Law) as a starting point when researching a potential employer.
For a more in-depth guide to researching law firms, read our Feature ‘How to research law firms when applying for vacation schemes’, which runs through the key places you should be conducting your research.
This episode of the LawCareers.Net Podcast is all about researching law firms and includes tips from graduate recruiters at firms, including RPC, Osborne Clarke LLP and Baker McKenzie.
A lot of the answers to the below questions can be found on the LawCareers.Net directory pages – just search for the firm name. And don’t forget that you can use our training contract search tool to narrow down your options based on various criteria.
- Name of firm
- Age of firm
- Number of partners
- Number of offices
- Category (eg, corporate, national or high street)
- Main practice areas
- Deadline for applications
- Identify some recent cases/deals.
- What do these cases say about the firm/organisation?
- What did the organisation do?
- Who were their opponents?
Place in the profession
- Who are their competitors (eg, in practice areas or location)?
- Who are their main clients?
- What’s the ethos or culture of the organisation?
- Does it have a mission statement or guiding principle?
- What’s the organisation’s reputation and what’s this based on?
- Has anything happened to the organisation recently (eg, merged or become an alternative business structure)?
- Are there likely to be any major changes soon (eg, looking to merge)?
The firm and you
- What are your career prospects at the organisation?
- What are the retention rates?
- Where could you go if you decided to move on after qualification?
- Have you met any employees of the organisation?
- Have you asked anyone else in the legal profession their view of the organisation?
- Is the firm somewhere you can imagine yourself working?
- Do your values align with the firms?
To find out even more on how to research firms thoroughly, read this feature: How to research law firms when applying for vacation schemes.
We hope this is a useful place to start. To perform well during the application process (and particularly at interview) you must understand what makes the firm tick and that'll require many hours of research – in various forms.
Armed with information, you can then work out what you still need to find out and can ask some probing questions of the recruiters and lawyers you speak to.
The key to law firm research is unearthing the reasons as to why it’s an attractive place for you – something only you can decide when you’ve taken the time to thoroughly research the firm.