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Ask the Experts

Welcome to our monthly updated section featuring Q&A sessions with our regular panel of top UK law firm representatives, who'll tackle any topic to do with graduate recruitment, applications, interviews, training contracts, vacation schemes and much more. If you have a question we haven't covered, just drop us a line, or tweet us @TheLex100, and we'll keep it in mind.

Make the most of opportunities to attend Open Days and Careers Events. Introduce yourself to the law firm's representatives, particularly the graduate recruitment officers. Aim to find out as much as you can about the firm and their application process from them. Build up a good rapport with them and they may well then remember you when they receive your application.

At Shearman & Sterling our small trainee intake means that we don’t interview a large number of candidates. We review application forms carefully, meaning that by the time you are called to interview, we are fairly certain you have the capability to be one our trainees and we want to find out more about your potential, personality and motivations for applying.

One of the most frustrating mistakes we regularly spot on application forms is the misspelling of our firm name! Attention to detail is an important part of being a lawyer, and to ensure your application makes it past the first review, double check it doesn’t contain any spelling and grammatical errors (brush up on your apostrophes and practice/practise!). It goes without saying that you really cannot afford to get the firm name wrong!

A superstar application form is thoughtful, relevant, and genuine. Each section of the application form should showcase your unique strengths and personality:

• Interest & Achievement Section - Include your best examples to give the greatest impact rather than including everything. Show diversity through these examples, for instance, working as part of team, working individually, one off experiences and ongoing interests so you can demonstrate your ability to be agile and adapt to new environments.

Our training contract application form is in cover letter format and is designed to help you showcase your talents. We ask for information about you and your education, as well as a 1000-word cover letter that tells us why you want to be a lawyer, and why at Ashurst in particular.

The majority of applicants tend to have some kind of commercial experience e.g. work experience or a university project that is relevant to their application. The tricky thing is how you can communicate that in such a way so that it is relevant to the role. You need to ensure that everything you include can be seen as useful experience for the job you are applying for. Getting this across in a concise and engaging way is important, especially when you consider there is usually a strict word limit on the application.

Meet the experts

  • With 25 offices in 15 countries and a number of referral relationships, we offer the reach and insight of a global network, combined with the knowledge and understanding of local…
  • Norton Rose Fulbright is a global legal practice. We provide the world’s pre-eminent corporations and financial institutions with a full business law service. We have more than 3800 lawyers based…
  • Shearman & Sterling is one of the global elite of law firms; with 18 offices worldwide we are a full service corporate firm who excel at offering complex, cross-border advice.…
  • Taylor Wessing is a full service global law firm working with clients in the world's most dynamic industries. Our focus is on the industries of tomorrow: Technology, Media and Communications;…