At the recent The Future of Legal Education and Training Conference, one of the biggest topics of discussion was the introduction of a new ‘super exam’ and how qualifying as a solicitor is set to change in the UK.
Until the two-stage exam (SQE) is introduced in 2020, securing a PRT (previously referred to as a Training Contract) is still the most popular route to qualifying in the UK and the applications alone are time-consuming and sometimes confusing.
With PRT application deadlines approaching, this guide provides tips for completing applications and insights into what top law firms are looking for in their next trainees.
We hope the information provided will help your application stand out.
The information has been produced with feedback gained from internal recruiters at top tier law firms as well as drawing on expertise from lawyers in the Robert Walters legal team.
Get to the point
Many high calibre candidates let themselves down in job interviews as well as PRT applications by making this common mistake. Recruiters have a huge amount of applications to get through and so it is vital that you answer questions concisely. Don’t answer the question you wish they had asked but tell them what they want to know as effectively as possible. Appreciate that recruiters don’t want to search through your answer to draw out what they need to know.
Research, Research, Research
It’squickly apparent to a recruiter if an applicant hasn’t done their due diligence when it comes to researching a firm or has simply copied and pasted an answer from a previous application.
Look at a firms’ ethos and core values and interpret that into your own answers. What are their recent success stories? Who are the key players at the firm? Don’t re-hash their own marketing information back into your answers but give genuine consideration to how the firm operates differently to their competitors and what makes them stand out.
Prove your commitment
Some candidates are fortunate enough to secure a PRT whilst still studying their LLB or a qualifying law degree. However, most candidates will secure a PRT based not only on academic merit but experience gained as a paralegal.
As a legal recruiter, I talk with candidates on a daily basis about the London market and experience they have gained at different firms in a variety of different sectors. Each role gives a better understanding of what area of law you want to specialise in and this will show in PRT applications.
Not only does gaining paralegal experience show a commitment to a career in law but also demonstrates experience in a professional legal environment.
Highlight your strengths
Top tier firms look to attract the candidates who have not only an outstanding academic record, but who can also point to personal experiences which demonstrate their drive to succeed.
Giving examples like this in your application can help you stand out compared to other applicants even if some of your academic results are not of the highest level.
Don’t just list off different part time jobs you had at University, but give specific examples of difficult situations you encountered, how you dealt with them and how you would approach these types of situations in the future.
The best applicants will show that they are well rounded individuals who can draw on different experiences from their career.
One of the best ways to support your PRT application is to connect with the firm prior to your application. This can vary from engaging with the firm on social media to attending open days and seminars at a local university.
Before engaging with a firm online, make sure you have a professional presence and an up-to-date profile.
Leading firms are always on the look-out for the next generation of top talent and will often host seminars and talks about recruitment so make sure you get involved.
Robert Walters have been successfully placing paralegals into top tier law firms for many years. To find out more about the London paralegal market or if you are currently looking for a new paralegal position, please call James for a confidential discussion 0207 509 8092 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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