How many law firms should you apply to?
Even before you begin applying for training contracts, you must work out which law firms you are going to apply to, and then how many. With so many amazing law firms to choose from, sometimes it is difficult to narrow it down. While it’s difficult to give a precise number, here are a few factors which may help influence your decision.
Avoid sending too many applications
While you may think sending out as many training contract applications as possible ensures you’ll get a place somewhere, this is actually not the case. Many people have applied for 20, 30, 50, even a 100 law firms with the same idea and been rejected by the vast majority. The reason being is that if you send too many, you won’t have the time or the energy to put the effort into each one. Even if you think you’ll have the time, you’ll struggle to balance several applications with all of your other responsibilities and will burn out quickly. This will lead to poor applications as you won’t have been able to devote the time necessary to each one.
If you have a list of several firms that you are struggling to narrow down, it’s a good idea to find out what makes each firm you are applying to different. While all of your favourites may be high in the rankings, they will all have things that set them apart. It’s a good idea to work out what is most important to you: what seat options are you most interested in, what size company would you prefer, are international or client secondments important to you? From these criteria it should be easy for you to reduce your list, so you are not too overwhelmed when applications start.
Avoid sending too few applications
While it’s good to be selective and not apply to every firm that appeals to you, avoid sending too few applications (less than five). Even though you’ll have more time to devote to each one, applications are extremely competitive with hundreds or thousands of applicants for a few places. Thus, there is a possibility you may not get any of the training contracts you apply for.
If you are struggling to find other firms to apply to, this suggests that you need to be more open minded about where you wish to work. Many applicants are solely interested in the bigger law firms in the city due to their prestige and reputation; however these are not the only ones available. High street firms tend to give you more responsibility, a greater likelihood of promotion and more flexible working hours. However, if you have your heart set on working in a large firm in the city, it would be advisable to organise your time wisely so that you can apply for your dream training contract.
There are a few circumstances in which it is advisable to apply to a few more law firms than average. If you have a large gap in your studies (without extenuating circumstances), a 2:2 or below or poor grades in some of your exams, it may be best to send in a few extra applications. Due to the competitive nature of training contracts, many law firms automatically reject those with low grades. However, be sure not to do the reverse of this and only apply to a few because you have good grades. There are so many other applicants who have amazing grades so the real focus should be on your application as a whole.
Applying for training contracts can be a long and stressful process; however you should avoid making it more difficult than it needs to be. Make sure you don’t apply for too many to avoid burnout, but apply for too little and you might find yourself with no offers.