Securing a training contract: Benjamin von Maur, QM Alumnus shares his top tips

When did you start applying for vacation schemes and training contracts?

“I came to QM as a Senior Status student. Given that the Senior Status LLB programme lasts only 2 years, I was in effect a penultimate (or second year) law student already during my first year at QM. As I was unfamiliar with the training contract recruitment procedure followed by most UK law firms, and because I was primarily focusing on my studies, I unfortunately failed to dedicate enough time and thought to my vacation scheme applications during my first year. After failing to secure a vacation scheme with a UK law firm for the summer, I decided to write as many training contract applications as physically possible – 50 in all.

Were these applications successful?

“Well, of the 50 applications I was invited to only 3 interviews. Since I had a very strong academic background as well as professional work experience in the management consulting sector, I was convinced that the low return was the result of the generic application forms I had submitted – I knew that I failed to communicate that I was truly interested in their work, their clients and their culture.

So how did you manage to secure your training contract with Eversheds?

“In my final year, I went to the QM Law Fair and various other firm presentations where I was able to find out more about the firms. I also learned about their Open Days and started attending these. I then attended numerous Skills Sessions organised by Careers & Enterprise, where firms come onto campus to provide insights and tips on how to tackle application forms, interviews and assessment centres. All this allowed me to demonstrate in my application form that I had gone the extra mile to do my research and that I was genuinely interested in the firm’s work and culture. I only wrote 15 applications in my final year.”

How long did it take you to write your applications?

“I spent about 6 hours just to answer (including research and proofreading) the question “Why are you applying to X firm?”. But it must have been worth it, because I was invited to 4 interviews – a better return than when I had put in 3 times as many applications!”

What do you know now, that you wish you’d known when you were an undergraduate?

  1. The first vacation scheme application is as important as a training contract application
  2. That I have experience which is valuable – the Skills Sessions with law firms helped me to realise how many things I had done in my life which I could talk about in application forms
  3. How to market this valuable experience – again the law firms’ skills sessions helped me to understand how to sell my experiences to them in their language

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