What are recruiters looking for?



Law firms (for solicitors) and chambers (for barristers) recruit applicants who are able to demonstrate a host of desirable skills. A tremendous amount of time and resources are spent on the development of legal trainees and therefore graduate recruiters seek to hire students with real potential. Although it would be naive to assume every employer is searching for identical attributes, it is inevitable that certain discernible qualities are necessary to succeed in the legal profession. These will be discussed in more detail below:

It is very important to begin the process of learning more about the legal profession by attending the annual Law Fair at the University. There are assortments of legal firms present and they vary in the type of law that they practice and the style of candidates that they seek. This is a brilliant opportunity for you to interact and engage with recruiters and trainee lawyers who were in a similar position not so long ago. You are also able to ask questions which is crucial to being sure about your career choice. It is an invaluable opportunity network which means securing contacts who could end up putting in a good word for you once you’ve submitted an application. It can also increase your commercial awareness by understanding more about the market that that firm is working in. You can also get a feel for that specific firm and their culture which will inform your choice of where to apply. It is important to note that graduate recruiters are interacting with hundreds of students across the country so try to have ‘meaningful conversations’ that make an impact; this requires doing thorough research beforehand!



Attribute Considerations





Intellectual ability


·       A minimum entrance requirement for securing a training contract is an upper second class degree (2:1) and 340 UCAS points at A-levels.

·       During the application process employers ask students to disclose grades from every module throughout the length of their degree.







·       Being able to work as part of a team is very important in the legal sector since various departments are required to share their expertise on an issue and increasingly the work is of a global nature.

·       The work of lawyers is becoming more specialised, and as such a considerable amount can be learnt from your colleagues.




Interpersonal Skills


·       Successful lawyers are usually personable and able to work effectively with an array of people through cultivating, building, developing and maintaining relationships.





Communication Skills


·       Client care is very important in the legal sector and there is an emphasis on being able to communicate clearly and effectively through a range of mediums.

·       Being able to speak on the level of the individual you are interacting with is vital (for example when explaining the legal position to clients).



Attention to detail


·       Drafting contracts can be an important part of a lawyer’s work and the incorrect position of a single word could alter the emphasis of a clause and the adversely affect the outcome for a client.




Commitment to Law


·       Securing legal work experience is almost always necessary to demonstrate commitment to a legal career as competition is so fierce.



Open Days/ Insight evenings/ Networking Dinners


The open days, insight evenings and networking dinners provide students with a unique opportunity to experience the culture of the law firms that they are interested in. You are able to gain a more comprehensive understanding of a firm, their application process and inside information through first-hand interactions with employees. These types of opportunities usually require you to fill in a simple application explaining why you would to attend the events and what you hope to obtain from the experience. It is important to note that law firms are increasingly keen for you to interact with them prior to completing an application for a training contract or a vacation scheme, so these opportunities are a great way to get your foot in the door!


Employer-led workshops


The Law Society run a plethora of events, as well as working closely with The University of Leicester Careers Development Service to increase the number of events. We organise workshops led by graduate recruiters/trainee lawyers from law firms. This is yet another great way to engage with law firms, gain an exposure to the legal sector and enhance your skills within just a few hours. There are also specific events organised exclusively for non-law students. It is a good idea to regularly check the university careers development website and book yourself into sessions as spaces are limited and offered on a ‘first come’ basis, as well as keeping up-to-date with Law Society publicity on our events too.


Vacation Schemes


A vacation scheme is paid, formal work experience within a law firm, typically lasting from 1-3 weeks. Most firms offer vacation schemes to second year law students and final year non-law students, but this can vary so it is important to check the specific details for the firms you are interested in. The application process for vacation schemes is often very similar to that of the ones for training contracts; and this is because a large percentage of students are offered a training contract upon completion of a vacation scheme after an interview at the end. The deadlines for the vacation scheme are around a similar time to the training contract. A vacation scheme offers valuable insight into the life of a trainee solicitor and allows you to get a clearer understanding of what a training contract could be like at a firm. Recruiters are increasingly using vacation schemes as a ‘long interview’; throughout which they a get to know students, test their ability, gauge their potential and see how they fit in their firm. Essentially, by seeing students in a working environment, law firms are able to ascertain how they would perform as a trainee.


The application process


Often the first hurdle for students aspiring to become lawyers is to secure a training contract. However, it is very unlikely that you will be able to secure this without having pursued several of the work experience avenues detailed above. Training contracts are highly competitive and, as mentioned above, they often involve a similar application process to vacation schemes. Typically the application process is as follows:

  1. Online application
  2. Online Watson-Glaser Test (psychometric test)
  3. Online Video Interview
  4. Assessment Centre Day
  5. Partner Interview

It is important to note the application process varies firm to firm and therefore independent research should be conducted.

The Watson-Glaser test is of significant importance because many law firms disregard your application unless you score above a certain percentile in this test. Therefore it is important to attempt online practice tests prior to the initial application submission.

Competency based interview questions are being replaced with strength-based questions which are harder to prepare for, this may be worth investigating further if you are serious about applying. It is allows for a more honest answer due to the nature of the questioning because they are harder to prepare for, and therefore being aware of your skills and experiences to back that up is key.

Typically on the assessment centre there is a case study session during which students are provided with a scenario, and they must decide on the best course of action; this is either in a group or individually.


For more information, please contact our Director of Law for Non-Law, Maryah Saeed (ms809@student.le.ac.uk)