Before you even think about filling out the online form, you need to research every firm to which you are applying. You can check out firm profiles here on AllAboutLaw, and each firm will have a specific website of its own for graduate recruitment.
But your research shouldn’t just be conducted online. You should visit law firms, attend open days, and speak with graduate-recruitment team members and current employees of the firms in which you are interested. Maybe you’ve even completed a vacation scheme with one or more of the firms you are targeting. Some critical factors to consider while doing your research include location, office culture, atmosphere, practice areas, and long-term career prospects (not just short-term advantages).
You may think you have answered each question thoroughly before moving on to the next. However, if you are prone to skipping around or were interrupted mid-application, you’ll need to go back and double-check to ensure that you haven’t forgotten anything. Because the structure of each firm’s online form will vary, don’t get into the habit of copying and pasting the same responses into every application. Many firms require a personal statement asking you to provide a detailed explanation of why you are applying and what makes you suitable for that particular firm. Before you answer these types of questions, ensure that you’ve explored the culture, philosophy and professional capacity of each firm so your values will match theirs.
Be sure to answer the question being asked. Back up your points with measurable data, and describe your experience at university, work, extracurricular activities or personal achievements, keeping your examples as recent as possible. If you are asked to write about a compelling news story or a current issue in the legal industry, demonstrate your knowledge of current affairs and the legal press. Consider your audience—a recruiter, partner, or human resources employee—as you craft your responses. Be prepared to expand on your answers during an interview.
Your spelling and grammar
Spelling and grammar errors have thwarted many an online application. Draft your answers in Microsoft Word (not directly on the form), proofread carefully, have another person to check your work, and utilise online spell checkers. Keep an eye on word count, as some firms consider the word limits listed on the application to be a way to test an applicant’s ability to write clearly and concisely. Avoid writing passively. Instead, use the active voice and action words like produced, organised, gathered and provided, avoiding terms like assisted, helped and worked. Try to use all of the space offered, but take care not to exceed the requested word limit. Read and re-read; checking what you have written. Remember—once you hit the submit button, there’s no going back.