We know that a training contract is the last bridge you have to cross from your academic life into life as a solicitor. If you were playing a game it could be likened to the last boss in the game – please don’t ask where I got my analogy! A training contract is and will always be a full-time programme, and usually lasts for two years. If you are not already aware getting a training contract is hard work.
Why is a training contract cover letter important?
During your training contract, your law firm – it’s mostly law firms that offer one – will train you and expose you to their various practice areas. A training contract (TC) is the best time that a law firm gets to mould its future solicitors in the shape and form they want to. To ensure that only candidates that have the potential to fit into their culture, most law firms – if not all – employ a process where they receive applications from candidates seeking to embark on their programme. For most firms, there is a requirement that a cover letter is included in the application. Some other firms might not ask for the document ‘cover letter’ but through other spaces/boxes on their application forms, they will ask for the information that is usually seen in a cover letter. Consequently, your cover letter is significant to landing a TC because it allows you to display who you are on paper to the firm. It’s one of the factors that helps the firm to determine if they like you enough to call you for the next stage of the application process.
Does the question then arise if it’s this important how do you write one?
How to write a training contract cover letter
When looking at the cover letters of their future trainees most law firms if not all will expect that the applicant has covered certain essential points. They are:
- Why Law or why do you want to be a solicitor
- Why the firm
- Why you
I call these the three Whys. Depending on your style you can choose the order you want to cover this point. I’ll now explain how to write each section
Why Law or Why Do You Want to Be a Solicitor
When reading your cover letter and you have not explained to the recruiter why you have chosen the law practice you might as well wave your chances of success goodbye. While law firms may seek to be seen to be employing eccentric staff, no law firm will employ someone who has no idea or why he has chosen the law profession. Law practice is a profession that is quite taxing and demanding, as such people seeking to participate in the profession must show dedication and commitment to the course – this is where the section comes into play. When answering this area you need to show why you chose the law profession and not some other noble profession. You need to also show what drives you in your quest to become a solicitor. You need to give valid and engaging reasons as to why you want to become a solicitor. Since we are talking about notable reasons we’ll like to say that you should avoid saying something like ever since I was a child I’ve always wanted to be a solicitor or ‘ever since I was in my mother’s womb I have been excited about becoming a solicitor or any variations you can think of. Gone are the days when a law firm recruiter looked at such a cover letter and said ‘wow give that applicant a TC’ – that is if such days ever existed.
Why the Firm
Every law firm is unique not just in name but in personnel. Every law firm is unique not just in personnel but in practice areas. Every law firm is unique not just in practice areas but in what makes them tick. If you fail to identify this uniqueness in one way or the other your cover letter will most likely fail. And if your cover letter fails no matter how well other aspects of your application may be then the application will also have to fail. One of the reasons people find it difficult to get a TC is a result of this factor. Their section dealing with the law firm is bland, vague and can be applied to another law firm. The rule of thumb is if you can substitute another law firm’s name with the one you are writing to in your cover letter you need to re-write that section.
To excel in this area you need to research the firm thoroughly. Are the firm’s practice areas in line with why you are choosing to become a solicitor? There’s no need to write to a top corporate firm when you have clearly stated that the reason you want to become a solicitor is to help people that have been involved in accidents and the like; your application will not be received with enthusiasm. The reason for this is not that they don’t have that practice area but the reason is that you do not share their uniqueness. Research the firm’s training contracts. What sort of support will you receive? Will you be thrown into the deep end or will you be given time to find your feet? Are they leaders in certain practice areas? Do they have a particular niche? When writing, avoid waffling. For example, what is the use of putting their revenue into your cover letter?
Do not confuse this with the ‘Why Law’ section. This section has to deal with you displaying your traits that will appeal to them. To make it easier you can call this the work experience section – though it’s not entirely descriptive of the work involved here. In this section, you should be describing your characteristics as to what they are looking for in a candidate. Every law firm that has an online application TC process will always state what they are looking for in their trainee solicitors, and what they look for will vary dependent on the firm. You must research and use the keywords/attributes that the law firm used. Excellent candidates have been known to miss out on the next stage of the TC application process not because they were not excellent but because the traits they displayed on their cover letter were different from what the law firm was looking for.
The best way to write this section is not to come out and say I am ‘curious’, ‘I’m analytical’, ‘I’m a team player or whatever the firm is looking for. The best way to engage the recruiter is to provide/explain a situation or an example (it could be from a work experience or your education, and the like) where you displayed the said attribute.
Example of a great training contract cover letter
At Congrapps we offer you some of the best resources to help you land a winning training contract cover letter not by offering to write one but by giving you access to past winning ones. The following cover letter was successful as the candidate passed the various stages where the cover letter was needed. Certain aspects have been taken out and changed to protect the identity of the owner.
Graduate Recruitment & Development Manager
Dear Ms DCC,
Further to your advertisement on http:www.lawcareers.net, I would like to apply for your training contract position starting in March 2022. I graduated with First Class Honours and finished as the Valedictorian from the LLB at Cambridge University. After my Master’s at Cambridge, I subsequently moved to Spain to participate in Law School, which I completed successfully, and I was called to the Bar in 2018.
A few years ago I became curious about the connection between capital markets, financial independence and the law. Subsequently, after I gained my degrees I started learning how to trade as an investor. Through autodidacticism, I gained an understanding of the factors that may affect the profits/losses of an investment and how to effectively read the financials of stocks.
With the knowledge, I gained and will acquire I am excited to become a commercial solicitor because of the intellectual and practical challenge of combining extensive legal knowledge, financial research, and market consideration when advising clients as to what would be necessary for successful transactions. The fact that I will be indispensable to the success of my clients drives me forward.
Consequently, I am applying to AVC because I believe that my development as a good commercial solicitor is assured. This belief is inspired by the level of support that is available at AVC through the Graduate Recruitment & Development team, Learning & Development team, Supervisor mentoring, Trainee Partner scheme, and the training given for specific practice areas. In addition, going by precedent it strongly appears that as an AVC trainee, I would be exposed to quality work. For example, I noted that trainees have been involved in different high-quality work such as contributing to the successful sale of Baker’s Group, the merger of Towers Watson and Willis Group, managing different projects, securing financing for different projects, assisting on carve-out deals, and researching international laws on equal pay and child protection laws for clients.
Secondly, I have chosen to apply to AVC because of its commitment to an inclusive and diverse culture. I believe that AVC’s standout culture would encourage a positive, friendly, and creative working environment which I would fit into seamlessly.
Thirdly I am applying to AVC because I believe that I possess the skills necessary for a successful training contract at AVC and the skill to attain any lacking competence if there be.
As a result, I believe that the starting point for a successful training contract must be the possession of strong intellect – and this I possess. My academic excellence is reflected by my grades; during my LLB, I attained eight first-class grades in all the eight qualifying modules. This excellence was rewarded with the Valedictorian award, which provided me with the opportunity of presenting the valedictory. My academic record was also acknowledged by Havard University when it offered me a place in its Masters of Corporate Law program.
Furthermore, I possess the soft skills necessary to help solve clients’ issues. For example, in my role as a Bar Supervisor, I have effectively persuaded several disgruntled customers as to why it is sensible for them to pay for their consumed meals and drinks while ensuring that they know and believe that they are treasured. By using a creative approach and taking the initiative when dealing with customers I have saved the business thousands of naira and gained customer loyalty.
While I may not be the perfect candidate, I do believe that if given the platform to train at AVC I will help shape the future of AVC – and its clients.
Apply the above principles and you will be able to set your cover letter apart. Further, for a small investment, you can access hundreds of successful cover letters at Congrapps. Why not invest?
Charles is a writer, practising lawyer and personal trainer who loves learning and developing himself. He graduated from Middlesex University, London with eight first-class grades in the second and third years of his law degree, and received a postgraduate offer from Cambridge University. He loves strength training, boxing and encouraging people to succeed in their pursuits (legal ones)
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