Trainee blog November 2014 - How to make your traineeship application stand out
Andrew Gibson is a trainee solicitor at Brodies LLP, working in the firm's corporate department. He has already completed seats in commercial services, personal & family and personal injury litigation. He obtained his LLB from the University of Stirling (studying abroad at Flinders University of South Australia in Adelaide) and his Diploma from the University of Strathclyde.
This is the first in a new series of articles looking behind the scenes at one of Scotland biggest law firms through the wide eyes of their trainees.
Hello and welcome
I’m delighted that the Law Society of Scotland has asked me and a couple of my colleagues at Brodies to become their new bloggers. First of all, many thanks to John Brannigan for his interesting and enjoyable contributions as the previous trainee blogger – I’ve very much enjoyed reading his posts. Hopefully we can continue to inform and entertain you as you embark on this exciting stage in your career.
The trainees at Brodies work in a wide range of departments within the firm and have different backgrounds and past experience. So we hope to provide you with varied posts covering not just our progress and experiences, but also our insight into particular practice areas and some hints and tips on how to get to where you want to be.
The best piece of advice I could give
I was recently asked to speak at a careers event at the University of Strathclyde. I spoke about my route to a career in law, my experience as a trainee so far and passed on my advice to the trainees-in-waiting in front of me. My preparation had me thinking about the best piece of advice I could give a law student – so this is what I’ll use this introductory post for.
At some stage you’re going to apply for traineeships. So are lots of others. At the same time. With the same degree. The same grades. The same Duke of Edinburgh Award. The same week’s work experience with John Smith & Co Solicitors in Auchtermuchty (don’t worry, Google tells me no such firm exists).
Imagine you’re the HR person. You’ve got 500 applications on your desk. I’m serious, imagine it. That’s a big pile.
Many of them will say the same thing. Making the jump from paper to the interview room is a very hard one – you need stand out. You need something on your application that make that HR folk (between sips of strong coffee) think: “Huh, that’s cool”. You have to make your assessor want to talk to you.
Be a bit different
Don’t get me wrong, the grades, your work experience etc are all crucial. But if you can supplement these core requirements with something that’s a bit different, then I think you’ll be giving yourself a better chance.
For me, it was being a Special Constable. People find the police and police work interesting. You just need to check your TV guide to see that. My assessors found that interesting and asked me about it in interviews. Of course that’s not for everyone. But the point is it was different and stood out on my application forms.
I advise that you think of things from the perspective of others. That applies not just to your traineeship applications, but to your future work as a lawyer too.