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Researching the firm for you

19 January 2023

Where you complete your training contract will be the most important decision of your journey so far as it will form the foundation of your legal career and will shape the type of solicitor you become.

Beginning your career at a firm which doesn’t feel like home to you, could put you off a practice area you would otherwise have really enjoyed and could negatively affect your wider career aspirations. It’s therefore important that you focus on applying to a maximum of ten firms, all of which you really feel you would be able to flourish at.

What is important to you?

The core element of finding the firm for you is establishing what is actually important to you. This can include important aspects of your training as well as your career more broadly, including for example:

  • strength in particular practice areas;
  • strong responsible business and diversity & inclusion initiatives;
  • size of the trainee intake;
  • a good work life balance; and/or
  • good retention prospects on qualification.

These are just a few examples, but to find the ‘right’ firm it’s fundamental to identify what your non-negotiable requirements are. Not only will this enable you to ensure that you’re only applying to firms which, at least on the face of things, appear to be a good match for you, but allows you to more efficiently curate a list of firms it’s worth you taking the time to research in depth. There is no point, for example, doing lots of detailed research about a firm to then discover they can’t offer something you consider to be essential.

Finding the firm for you

Once you know what you want from a firm, and your training contract, you can start thinking about which firms could be for you. There are many resources online to find out about different firms, and trainee life at each, but I would recommend taking a look at the following as a starting point:

  • Chambers Student;
  • LawCareers.Net; and/or
  • Legal Cheek.

Many of these websites will write their review of the firm using annual feedback surveys from the current trainees, so they can be particularly useful in gaining a real insight into life as a trainee at the firm. They will allow you to get key information about some of the most important aspects and easily identify which firms can offer certain things that are important to you.

With a list of firms that seemingly fit your bill, you can then take a deeper dive, beyond just trainee life and the headline facts/stats to learn the ins and outs about what the firm is all about.

The firm’s website is always a great place to start with your more detailed research as you’ll be able to learn more about what the firm offers to both clients and employees.

If you have interests in specific practice areas you can also dig deeper by looking at the firm’s Legal 500 and/or Chambers pages. This can be especially helpful to determine where a firm’s strengths lie and what sort of work they do in particular practice areas (as well as who they act for in those practice areas!). This research can be time consuming, but is definitely worth the investment. You might not be able to use all your knowledge about the firm in your application, but this may pay dividends at a later stage of the process when trying to demonstrate to an interviewer that their firm is the one for you!

Finally, don’t be afraid to reach out to current trainees on LinkedIn. The resources available online are good but sometimes you can’t beat hearing about a firm from the horse’s mouth! Trainees know the feeling of applying and researching all too well, so more often than not they will be happy to help, answer your questions, or just give you an honest insight into the firm.

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