Getting a vacation scheme or training contract at a magic circle law firm is a little bit like dating. Not many of us find it easy, but it's something that we all put up with because of the satisfaction that comes with success.
From playing the long game, making a good first impression, and dealing with rejection, this article utilises the tried and tested principles of finding love to help you achieve application success.
The first step in making magic circle law firms is working on yourself. Just like you would hit the gym and lose some of the fat before dipping your toe into the dating pool, you want to find ways to make yourself appear like a more attractive applicant.
One way you can do this is by getting involved in a variety of different extracurricular activities. Magic circle law firms don't want lawyers who are solely focused on getting top grades; they are looking for individuals who can speak confidently with clients, have ample experience to draw upon, and are interesting people to hang around with.
Although popular extra curricular activities for law students will include mooting and debating, doing these won't necessarily make you better suited for life as a lawyer. In fact, having a slightly strange hobby often provides you with an interesting talking point in interviews and gives you an opportunity to stand out!
Similarly, doing the correct research will allow you to know precisely what you need to do to impress them. For example, if you knew your crush loved playing hockey, it would make sense to try and understand and appreciate the game too. So check out their practice areas, client lists, recent news, and competitive advantages to get a clear understanding of how each magic circle firm differs to one another.
As in dating, get ready to kiss a lot of frogs before you meet your prince or princess. This is not a process that can be rushed.
You see, the applicants that are most successful when applying to magic circle law firms are those that have nurtured their relationships with lawyers and law firms over a period of months.
Start by attending networking events and interacting with them on social media. By showing an interest in the magic circle law firms as early as possible, you are clearly demonstrating a much deeper interest in what they do compared to those who only spent a few hours quickly flicking through their latest updates prior to sending their application.
So ensure you go to on-campus events, attend open days, get involved on social media, follow their news, and understand how they operate as a business. Don’t be one of those candidates that attempts to sell themselves by telling the firm that you’ve always wanted to work there and are excited to apply, yet haven’t shown any prior interest in what they’re doing!
Recruiters in magic circle law firms have truly seen it all.
Feigned enthusiasm can be seen a mile off and is no good for anyone. In fact, even if you did manage to slip through the cracks and get accepted, you wouldn’t last very long as a solicitor. Actually spend the time to determine where you want to work, who you want to work for, and the work culture that best suits your requirements.
When crafting your application, answer the questions as naturally as possible - personalised an thoughtful answers are always more engaging. You have lots to offer and there is simply no need to copy others, exaggerate achievements, or hide your personality. This is not to say that you should try to be too funny or clever, but simply to be true to yourself.
If the law firm agrees to go on a date with you (i.e. you get accepted for an interview), your next job is to make a good first impression.
By this stage the law firm knows you are good: you have decent grades, you have a wide range of interests, and look like you would make a brilliant lawyer. Now you have to convince them in person.
Doing this isn't too difficult if you know the two simple things recruiters are looking for. Firstly, they want to know that you're an easygoing person that can hold a conversation and, secondly, they want to know you are committed to a career in law and to them - again, the similarities to dating are uncanny!
Writing applications and getting rejected with little or no feedback can be incredibly demoralising, especially if you’ve spent hours doing the research and creating numerous drafts of your applications beforehand.
The truth is, you're going to get rejected 90% of the time.
However, don't take this rejection personally. Law firms receive thousands of applications for just a few places, so often resort to pretty arbitrary determinations as to who should be given an offer. For example, Allen & Overy receive approximately 3000 applications for 60 vacation scheme placements each year, which means that only one student in every 50 students will receive a vacation scheme from the firm!
Frame your rejections as their loss rather than yours. Just jeep your head up, stay positive, and keep hustling. Plus, if the magic circle doesn't work out, there's plenty more fish (law firms) in the sea (city)!