10 Top Tips for Law Firm Applications

October 4, 2021

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4 min read

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Applying for law firms can be a daunting process. However, it is likely that you already have lots of the skills and qualities of a successful candidate, it’s all about communicating them.  Follow these ten tips to make sure you show your best self in your application and stand out from the crowd!

1) Take your time

To ensure your law firm applications stand out from the crowd, it is important that you take your time writing each one and give answers that are tailored to each individual firm. This will be much easier to do if you are applying to a select number of firms, rather than opting for a scatter-gun approach across a huge number of firms. Therefore, before you begin any applications, spend time researching potential firms and narrowing them down until you have a manageable list of firms you like. It might be helpful to organise your research into one document or spreadsheet (who doesn’t love a spreadsheet!), so that you can easily compare different firms as you narrow down your choices.

2) Do your research

Once you have your list of firms, you need to carry out more in depth research for each one. Find out which areas of law they specialise in, where they work, who their clients are, how they offer their services and their core values and ethos. This will allow you to show in your application that you have taken the time to get to know the firm before applying, and that you have really thought about why you would be a good fit for them and they for you.

3) Use your experience

An answer becomes instantly more engaging and impressive when you back it up with a relevant example. If you have lots of experience in law already, great! Make sure you include this in your application, using it to show your interest and explaining what you learnt from each experience. However, plenty of non-law experience can be really useful too. For example, if you want to demonstrate that you have a strong work ethic, then your summer job at a local cafe or your position on a University sports team may well be relevant.

4) Be concise

In most cases, less is more. Whoever is reading your application will have hundreds to sort through, and so you want to make their job as easy as possible. Don’t make them work hard to decipher your meaning from long and convoluted sentences. Get to the point, make it clear, and they will instantly like you and your application all the more for it.

5) Don't lose your style

This being said, it is still important to write in a formal and impressive style, especially in longer responses or cover letters. Remember, many of your tasks as a lawyer may involve producing clear, concise and well-written documents, so you need to show that you have those skills. Get the balance right between concision and style, and your application will stand out from the crowd.

6) Let your personality shine

Don’t be afraid to show some personality in your application. It can be easy to feel intimidated by the formality and the competition and, as a result, to give answers that you think they want to hear rather than ones which reflect who you really are. But remember, they will be reading hundreds of applications which give the same impersonal answers. If you want them to spend time reading your application, you need to capture their attention. Tell them about things you have done, which you don’t think many other people will have done, like unique work experience, founding a society or doing something valuable for a charity you care about. Show them why you are interesting!

7) Network with the firm whenever you can

This is a good way to help your application stand out. If the recruitment team already recognise your name, from your participation in insight events, Linkedin connections, emails asking specific questions about the firm and the application process or social media engagement, they are more likely to pay close attention to your application. It’s certainly not everything, but it can always help.

8) Save your application answers

If you are called to an interview, you might be expected to discuss and even defend elements of your written application. The firm might want to know more about a specific experience that you have mentioned, or may challenge you on a response to a question which requires your judgement or opinion. The interview might be held months after you submitted your application, so it will be very useful when you are preparing for the interview to have a copy of everything you have already submitted. This way, you can refresh your memory, anticipate the questions they might ask and start to think about how you might respond.

9) Check, check and check again

With such high levels of competition, something as simple as a spelling or grammar mistake could be your downfall. Take the time to proof-read and if you can, ask others to proof-read your answers too. If you are submitting them via an online form, there might not be a spelling or grammar check function, so consider writing them in Microsoft Word, and then copy them across once you are happy.

10) Don't give up!

Law firm applications are highly competitive. You will probably receive more rejections than acceptances, but this does not necessarily mean that there was something wrong with your application. So often, these firms will reject people they wanted to accept, because they simply didn’t have the space. You have to maintain a strong sense of self-confidence throughout the process, and not let rejections get you down. Ask for feedback if they offer it, learn from things that go wrong in interviews, and continue to improve and persevere until you land the role that you deserve!

Report written by Elizabeth Ambrose

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