How long does it take a law firm to make an offer?
From submission of an application to the final interview, the process of applying for a training contract can span several months. But how long after a final interview can you expect to receive that all-important phone call? Here we take a look at this and your other burning questions about the training contract application process.
The timeline from start to finish
Training contracts come in all shapes and sizes. Likewise, the training contract application process can vary widely from firm to firm.
Many law firms have rigorous application processes consisting of many stages, whereas other (often smaller) firms favour more informal methods of offering training contracts to candidates.
For those applying to large commercial firms, submitting an application is usually only the first step in the process. Applicants successful at this stage may then be invited to take some form of situational judgement test. Many firms ask candidates to sit the Watson Glaser test, for example, to assess their critical thinking.
Situational judgement tests are usually followed by a video or phone interview, and applicants who are successful at this stage are invited to attend an assessment centre for a series of tasks designed to test commercial awareness, knowledge of the firm and motivation for a career in law.
If you’re making a direct training contract application, the assessment centre might be the final stage, but you could also be invited to attend another, final training contract interview. For some, however, the next hurdle will be completing a vacation scheme. These can last between one and four weeks depending on the firm.
Generally, vacation scheme candidates will undertake a final interview at the end of the scheme, after which they may or may not receive an offer for a training contract.
After the final interview
After completing your final interview – whether that’s during an assessment centre or a vacation scheme – how long you’ll be expected to wait for an outcome depends on the firm.
Most law firms aim to let applicants know their decisions as soon as possible to avoid losing talent to other firms, but it’s normal for candidates to have to wait anywhere from a few days up to around one month.
If you were informed that you’d hear back by a specific date, don’t worry if that date comes and goes with radio silence. It isn’t unusual for final decisions to take longer than expected. You can always call or email graduate recruitment for a polite update if the suspense becomes too much.
Receiving the offer
Initial offers usually come via phone call, either from the partner who conducted the final interview, from HR, or from a member of graduate recruitment. Verbal offers over the phone are then usually followed up by formal, written offers. You may receive a contract via post or email around six weeks or more after your initial offer.
How long an offer lasts also varies between firms. Upon receiving an offer, candidates usually have around four weeks to decide whether or not to accept. Having said that, some firms allow applicants more time to decide, pending the outcome of other training contract applications or vacation schemes.
In short, all offer holders have different experiences according to the firms to which they applied. If you apply to a firm with a less formal application process, you might get a decision fairly quickly, while some will have to wait longer.