We receive a lot of questions every day. Here are answers to the most common ones.
For all questions about application form editing and interview coaching, please use the contact form.
I’m a student / I have no relevant background – what should I do to get into law?
Get a relevant vacation scheme or experience at a local firm / the Citizens Advice Bureau / any company that has an in-house legal function. It doesn’t have to be at a prestigious firm – even an unknown high street firm will give you a huge leg-up if you can write “Legal Assistant” on your CV / application form.
Do I need to have studied law at A-level / university?
No, but it helps because you then have a demonstrated interest in law. Having said that, most large law firms recruit about 50:50 law:non-law students each intake. If you have a particular interest in another university subject or (like a lot of candidates) come to law having already begun your studies, you’ll need to provide some reasoning for your choice of degree subject.
What university courses/modules should I take?
Specific classes matter much less than work experience.
Law, EU Law, finance or economics-related classes are good to demonstrate interest and gain some knowledge, but if you are spending hours deliberating whether to take a particular advanced class or do a Master’s, please stop because it doesn’t matter.
How much do vacation schemes / work experience matter vs. activities and grades?
Work experience is much more important. If you have a poor degree result you’ll have trouble getting interviews through official channels, but beyond that a “good” vs. “better” academic record doesn’t matter for 99% of firms.
Someone with a 2.1 who can write “Vacation scheme” on his or her CV will beat the person with a first who only has experience working in a pub or supermarket.
What is the best type of internship to get?
The closer it is to the kind of law you want to practice, the better. If you’re just starting out in your job search a range of legal experience (even one day or one week stints) is advisable, as much to educate you about the different kinds of firms as to enhance your CV.
Is a Master’s degree worth it?
It might be. If you went to an unknown / overseas university and are particularly interested in a specialised legal Master’s from a top-tier university, a Master’s could be a good investment.
Avoid generic “Business Studies” or “Advanced Legal Studies” type courses – they aren’t worth your time.
What about a Ph.D?
No. If you happen to be pursuing a Ph.D and want our help in switching to law, get in touch.
If I’ve already graduated / am working, can I do a vacation scheme?
Yes, though most firms target university students who have limited work experience for these. It never hurts to ask, though, so you might as well see what turns up and focus on smaller places that might be more receptive to the idea.
How high a university grade do I need to get into law?
A 2.1 and above from most universities is fine. A 2:2 is iffy, and with a 3rd you will not get in via a formal recruiting process.
How much do A levels matter? Do I still need to list them?
You do need to list them. Larger firms will list requirements – typically ABB – other firms won’t. If you have extenuating circumstances that mean your grades were lower than you might otherwise have achieved, you’ll need to contact firms’ HR departments before you apply, and explain your circumstances.
I’m from outside the UK – how should I list my grades?
If you’re applying in the UK you may want to list your grades in your local grading system and convert them to the UK system, or include the former only and explain the grading system of your home country briefly on your application.
Can you rank firms / specific types of firm?
No. In the City of London, the so-called Magic Circle and US firms are probably the most prestigious “names” to have on your CV, but there are plenty of other firms with a range of practice areas, locations, international offices and more. You need to do plenty of research to find out where you’ll fit in best.
If you really want rankings, check out RollOnFriday’s Firm of the Year survey results, the Lex100 or Chambers and Partners.
What if I don’t get a job at Clifford Chance? Will my life be ruined?
Unless you are 100% set on a particular firm / practice area it doesn’t matter.
There are literally hundreds of excellent law firms out there, and there’s nothing stopping you moving around after qualification.
Ok, but there must be some downside to not working at a top firm.
Your exit opportunities are more limited – you will need to work hard to demonstrate the relevance of your training / experience post-qualification.
I’m a career-changer. What should I do?
The most important part in interviews is your “story” – you need to be able to demonstrate concisely why you are looking to move and what skills you can bring to a legal career. We have worked with writers, Ph.Ds, bankers, scientists and more – you can do it.
How can I actually ask my contacts for help with recruiting or for a specific job or internship?
“Thanks again for speaking with me the other day. With recruitment season approaching, I wanted to ask you how I could best position myself for an interview with your firm.”
Should I go to information sessions / law fairs at a university even if I don't study there?
Yes – show enthusiasm. Recruiters travel all over the country to attract the best candidates. Put yourself in their sights.
How can I follow-up with my contacts / recruiters / lawyers I’ve met?
Ask a specific question or make a specific request, and keep it short and to the point. Aim to stay in touch at least once every 2-3 months, but don’t write just for the sake of writing if you have nothing to say.
Should I start in London? What region is “best” to start in?
Most people would say that London is “best” because you get more flexibility if you want to transfer elsewhere later on – whereas doing the opposite, transferring in from another region is more difficult.
What are the differences in salaries / hours / exit opportunities between different locations?
There are salary differences between London and the regions, typically to reflect the lower cost of living (and renting office space) in the latter. See the websites of particular firms you’re interested in for details of starting salaries.
How can I politely turn down offer(s) I’ve received elsewhere?
Just tell them that you appreciate everything, enjoyed meeting their team, and appreciate the offer, but you’ve decided to accept an offer elsewhere. Email is fine if you don’t feel comfortable doing this via the phone.
What if I’ve already accepted an offer elsewhere? How can I renege on it without burning bridges?
You can’t. This is like saying, “How can I break up with my girlfriend / boyfriend without anyone getting upset?”
Just tell them that you appreciate meeting their team and receiving an offer, but that your plans have changed and you have decided to accept an offer elsewhere.
How much should I spend on clothes for summer internships / full-time jobs, and how much do I need?
No-one cares what you look like as long as you’re presentable. You do need to wear clean, crease-free clothes every day. Whether or not as a male you need to wear a tie will depend on the firm – take your cue from people already working there.
Why did you create your company and this site?
We saw a gap in the market. Many sites feature information about working in law, but none actually offer would-be lawyers the detailed information and services we do.
We also all felt that existing solutions for CV / application form reviews and interview coaching were inadequate.
Can you write my application / cover letter for me from scratch?
How long does an application form review/CV review take?
We offer both of these as either three working days or (for an additional fee) 24 hours. The three working day / 24 hour period starts when we have received all the documents/information we need from you.
Working days are Monday to Friday, though we're usually contactable on the weekend if you need us.
Yes - see here.
Why did you leave the industry?
Not every lawyer stays in law for life – law can be a stepping stone to other opportunities.