How can joining a law society improve your prospects of securing a training contract?
For most law students – and many non-law pupils – the main objective during university is to land a training contract, putting them firmly on the path to becoming a fully-fledged lawyer. Along with grades and work experience, another way to show potential employers your enthusiasm is signing up to your law society.
Transferrable skills & extracurricular achievements
Law societies can boost your CV and give you a great subject to discuss in training contract applications. Students who become active society members – as officers on the executive committee or sub-editors for the law journal, for instance – can demonstrate particular skills that are transferable to their prospective training contracts.
Law society activities can help to build indispensable soft skills. Things like criminal advocacy, negotiations, mooting and client interviewing develop skills in teamwork, active listening, argument building and public speaking, which are required by solicitors on a daily basis. Joining the team for Inter-university society competitions will ensure you stand out as a go-getter, with any awards proving your skills and commitment to self-development.
Enrolling as a law society member will give you the chance to make contacts with a range of people in the legal industry, from academics and partners to trainees. With law fairs, opportunities to meet firm employees, and talks on specific practice areas, it’s easy to meet professionals who are willing to share their time and knowledge.
These potential mini-Q&A sessions may not only help guide you towards a career path or employer that really suits you, but can help with application tips or even work experience opportunities.
For students not reading law, networking as an “outsider” can seem overwhelming at first. But attending these events will make forging links less intimidating.
The cornerstone for any successful applicant is the ability to display a grasp and appreciation of current affairs that impact clients’ businesses, as well as an employer’s position in the legal industry. In recognition of this, law societies tend to provide members with shortcuts to pertinent sources of information in the form of newsletters or speaker presentations. A society’s recommended podcasts, newspaper articles and social media accounts are also helpful.
If you are interested in a more obscure area of law –, such as animal rights or sports law – then why not suggest a deliberate focus on this topic to the committee? Or better yet, forming your own specialised society? It should bring like-minded students together, and show off your problem-solving skills to boot. A firm would be hard-pressed to explain why they weren’t interested in an applicant like that.
Exposure to the legal world through pro bono
Finally, law societies that advertise pro bono work – voluntarily supplying free legal advice to those in need – offer students the chance to work on real life legal cases.
When applying for training contracts with real experience under your belt, it’s easier to demonstrate core legal skills like drafting documents and interviewing clients. Recruiters will be even more impressed if the volunteering relates to the firm’s practice area specialism.
There are so many initiatives out there beyond university, so don’t panic if your law society does not offer pro bono opportunities. Why not take the plunge and set up your own society to do this with a little help from your careers service? This would add yet another string to your bow and make securing a training contract almost guaranteed!