May 30, 2024

Written By Ella Buckley

Submitting the Perfect Training Contract Application: Advice for Non-Law Students

May 30, 2024

Written By Ella Buckley

So, you’re student in a non-law degree. You’re pretty sure you want to become a solicitor; you’ve researched the process and now you’re looking for your training contract. These are essential to qualifying, but the application process can look intimidating at first.  If you find yourself in this position, fear not! Here’s everything you need to know to ace your training contract application as a non-law student.

What is a training contract?

Training contracts are a two-year period of qualifying work experience. They usually take place at a law firm.

What’s the difference between the Solicitor’s Qualifying Exam (SQE) and a training contract? 

The path to qualification as a solicitor in the UK takes four steps: 

  1. A degree in any subject 

  2. Qualifying Work Experience/Training Contract

  3. SQE1 (an exam on functioning legal knowledge)

  4. SQE2 (an exam on practical legal knowledge) 

You can do your QWE at any time in the qualifying process. You can choose up to four different firms or organisations for your QWE, although many firms still choose to offer two-year-long training contracts.

How do I start? 

The training contract application process is not much different to any other graduate job, although it is very competitive. It is as important as ever to make sure that your application is well researched and thought out. 

Your application might include: 

Take time researching firms and writing your application materials, and give yourself plenty of time to submit your application.

Research is key! 

It’s essential to research the firms you are applying to. Ideas for what to research and questions to ask include: 


Where do I start researching? 

It’s always a great start to look at the firm’s own website, as well as directories like Chambers and Partners and Legal 500, which will give you useful information on firm rankings and recent cases. 

Recruitment events are also a great way of meeting firms and employees in person (make sure you come armed with at least some knowledge about the firm).  You could also reach out to current employees on LinkedIn with any questions.

Writing the Perfect CV 

The average time an employer spends on your CV is seven seconds – here’s how to make yours count!  

Writing a Compelling Cover Letter

Succeeding in Additional Assessments 

As well as the CV and cover letter, you may be asked to do additional assessments as part of your application, such as psychometric testing and interviews. 

A few tips for additional testing include: 

But I don’t have any work experience! 

While legal work experience can be invaluable, plenty of the transferable skills legal employers are looking for can also be showcased in other experience you may have. 

These skills include: 

Make a list of the experiences that you might have had at university – academic, extracurricular, work experience, or hobbies - and the challenges you faced. These can be good for identifying strengths to highlight in your application.

Before you submit your application… 

Seek feedback, even if it’s just to proofread. You could ask your university’s careers service, your tutors or your friends. 

Once you’ve got feedback, make sure you use it. This can be as simple as extending your points, deleting unnecessary sentences, or using different examples in your application responses. 

Submit with plenty of time if you can - make notes of key deadlines so you don’t miss them.  

Follow up!  

Following up is crucial! It is always a good idea to send a quick email to the firm within a couple of days to reconfirm your enthusiasm for the role. 

Some final words of advice… 

And finally…. 

Stay focused and consistent. You may experience many rejections, but all you need is one ‘yes’. Consider every ‘no’ as good practice for your next application. Good luck! 


Non-Law Students