How I secured a training contract

Like many, Oliver started his journey into the legal world unsure of where it might take him. Here he describes his career to date and provides an insight into how he was offered his training contract at Shoosmiths.

The focus of the first year of my degree was simply getting to grips with the law, familiarising myself with the jargon and most importantly passing the exams. Consequently, the mere idea of a training contract had not even crossed my mind. Around the end of January of the second year of my undergraduate I decided to start my applications. To my surprise, most of the application deadlines were almost over and applications themselves were rather time consuming. I ended up rushing every application and hopelessly applied the same base template for every firm I applied to. Consequently, the inevitable happened – rejection, after rejection. Nonetheless, vital lessons were learned.

I adventurously applied to a national law firm in Cyprus where I managed to secure a work placement for 10 weeks during the summer. After developing a relationship with one of the Partners, I evidently impressed them with my religious work ethic and positive attitude, as this led to a further weeks’ work placement with a London Firm. At the beginning of my penultimate year, I researched all the firms which best suited my character (and aspirations), made a list in order of my interest and the key dates. Shoosmiths was unsurprisingly at the top of my list. I made tens of applications for insight evenings and vacation schemes. I also attended a workshop with Shoosmiths where I was able to gain a superior insight into the firm and rekindle relationships from the law fairs. Using knowledge from my research, correspondence with trainees, workshops and insight evenings, I began to individually tailor my applications. Crucially, quality is far superior to quantity. It is vital to illustrate how and why the firm is unique, but also why you want to be a solicitor at that specific firm. After several reviews from myself and others, I started submitting the applications. There was a stark difference in the responses I received.

I was accepted onto several vacation schemes and invited to a few assessment centre interviews. When I received confirmation of securing a vacation scheme for Shoosmiths, I knew this was my golden opportunity to shine. From the moment I arrived and throughout the scheme I seized every opportunity, demonstrated an eagerness to learn by taking initiatives and embraced the culture through my actions. I felt challenged, valued, excited and by the end of the scheme I knew this is where I wanted to spend the rest of my career. Whereas with some other firms, I did not get that instant gut feeling.

I was subsequently invited to an assessment centre interview in Shoosmiths’ Birmingham office. The assessment centre was an opportunity to illustrate how much I had learnt about the firm, my appreciation of the amazing people within the firm and that I honestly lived the firm’s values. I also tried to convey that I was impressed by Shoosmiths’ ambition and wanted to help contribute to that ultimate goal.

Before beginning any application, ask yourself: why is this firm for you? Is this going to align with your future goals and personality. When crafting each individual application try to be as accurate, genuine and honest as practicably possible. If you receive a response not to your favour, take that as experience, knowledge and ask for feedback. It is important to convey that I was declined by some firms, not because I was not good enough, but simply as we were not the best fit for each other. That will be the case for many of you, so do not get disheartened.

I want to stress the vitality in you growing your commercial awareness, as it is an evolutionary process and certainly will not become natural to you overnight. It’s critical to appreciate economic fluctuations, to identify how the firm fits in as a provider of legal services and how they fit into the bigger picture of the market. Know their competitors, who its main clients are and the types of work it undertakes. Work at it every day in the types of phrases and concepts you use, which will make you a better writer, analyst, communicator and solicitor.

If I were to surmise why I was a successful applicant, I would say it was because I demonstrated enthusiasm, motivation and unremitting commitment to establishing a career with Shoosmiths. I believe in Shoosmiths.

For further inspiration on how to embark on a career in law, have a read of Steph’s route to becoming a trainee here or read Jess’ top tips to having the right attitude to achieve success.

Applications for a summer placement 2020 and training contract 2022 are now open on our website.

If you have any questions you can email us at [email protected] or have a look at some frequently asked questions here.


This information is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given. Please contact us for specific advice on your circumstances. © Shoosmiths LLP 2024.



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