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Tag: trainee solicitor

Get Your Career Off to a Flying Start with Cripps – Apply by 29 February 2024

As a law graduate, the first step in your career is a vital one. It’s important to get broad experience, acquire a good understanding of the law and appreciate the commercial side of the business. Only then can you decide which area to specialise in.As a trainee at Cripps you’ll experience different practice areas covering all aspects of commercial property, corporate and commercial law as well as private client matters. You’ll carry out challenging and interesting work for a wide range of clients from blue chip household names and entrepreneurial businesses to high net worth private clients. You’ll also be supported throughout your contract, and encouraged to express your opinions and be yourself.The recruitment window is now open and will close on 29 February 2024. Apply using the link below.


Time Recording: Everything You Need to Know

Timesheets. A necessary evil for the seasoned lawyer and a daunting prospect for a future trainee. You may not have realised it yet but once you’re a solicitor in private practice, you will most probably have to account for all of your time, in six-minute units.

That’s right. That 18-minute phone call to the Land Registry – three units, 24 minutes drafting an email to your client – four units, an hour’s research on the Companies House website – 10 units. For anything in between, you’ll probably be asked to round it up.

In some firms, you might even have targets as a trainee. For example, you might have to record seven hours (70 units) of time in total per day, five hours (50 units) of which will have to be billable to a client.

Whilst the logic behind time-recording is simple – so that accurate bills can be produced for clients – there’s no doubt that it can be a confusing concept to get your head around when you’re starting out in a law firm.

There’ll likely be one code for the client, another for the particular matter you’re working on and a whole host of other codes you could use for the specific task you have been doing, from drafting to travelling to court to attending a client meeting. There may also be non-billable codes for work such as research or internal marketing activities.

To complicate matters, it’ll take you longer than usual to do everything as a fresh-faced trainee. It might take you two hours to draft that long email reply, but can you realistically charge that much to the client when the email only ends up being a couple of paragraphs long?

You’ll have to use your common sense here and decide what you think is a reasonable amount of time to record. Always discuss this with your supervisor in advance to avoid any confusion on billing day.

As a student, you can make the transition easier by being organised with your time now. This could mean planning that extended essay in advance or making a revision timetable for your summer exams. All of these things will help you start being more aware of how you manage your time.

And when you do start your training contract, remember to record your time as you’re going along. Nobody wants to be stuck in the office on the Friday night before the billing deadline racking their brains to remember what they were doing at 3pm on a Tuesday three weeks ago.

Got any questions about time recording? Get in touch.

What is the SQE and what does it entail?

The Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE) was introduced in September 2021 to replace the old legal education system of undertaking the GDL and LPC.

The SQE is split into two parts: SQE1 and SQE2. Candidates will also need to complete two years of qualifying work experience (QWE) before applying to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) to be admitted to the roll of solicitors.


In SQE1 you will be tested on ‘functioning legal knowledge’, which tests your application of law based on realistic client-based scenarios in multiple choice questions.

The assessments will cover subjects you will have studied on a law degree or a conversion course, as well as the vocational practice areas in stage 1 of the LPC.

SQE1 is split into two Functioning Legal Knowledge (FLK) assessments. These assessments will take the form of multiple-choice papers with 180 questions each, covering all aspects of the SQE1 syllabus.

FLK 1 will cover:

  • Business Law and practice
  • Dispute Resolution
  • Contract
  • Tort
  • Legal System of England and Wales
  • Constitutional and Administrative Law and EU Law and Legal Services
  • Ethics and Professional Conduct (examined in both)

FLK 2 will cover:

  • Property Practice
  • Wills and the Administration of Estates
  • Solicitors Accounts
  • Land Law
  • Trusts
  • Criminal Law and Practice
  • Ethics and Professional Conduct (examined in both)

You must pass SQE1 before being eligible to sit the SQE2 assessments.


In SQE2 you will be tested on six practical legal skills required for practice, including:

  • Interviewing (with written attendance note/legal analysis)
  • Advocacy
  • Legal research
  • Legal drafting
  • Legal writing
  • Case and matter analysis
  • The above skills will be tested across the practice areas of:
  • Criminal Litigation
  • Dispute Resolution
  • Property Practice
  • Wills and Intestacy, Probate Administration and Practice
  • Business organisations, rules and procedures

The exam takes place over five days

Taylor Vinters Virtual Pop-Up Sessions

Thinking about applying for a training contract at Taylor Vinters?

Now you can book a 15-minute online session with a current trainee working at the firm to ask those all-important questions that will help you make up your mind.

A 15-minute chat with a trainee who can answer your most pressing questions and give you a clear idea of what you can expect at Taylor Vinters, and what we’d expect from you. It could turn out to be the best quarter of an hour you’ve ever spent.

Find out more.

What is a vacation scheme?

A vacation scheme is a period of one or two weeks spent at a law firm as part of the training contract application process.  

A vacation scheme is essentially work experience, the difference being that you will be assessed throughout for your suitability to get a training contract at that firm. It’s also likely that you’ll have an interview at the end of the scheme. 

During the scheme you’ll be given real work to do, and you should tackle these tasks as if you were a trainee. Don’t worry if you don’t have any legal knowledge yet; the firm will not expect you to be an expert on the law! Instead, they will be looking to see what your thought process was and, most important of all, that you approached the task with enthusiasm. 

It is essential that you are on your best behaviour throughout the vacation scheme. This applies just as much to your time at your desk as during a social event with your fellow vac schemers. Your prospective future colleagues and supervisors will be watching you! 

Having said that, you need to be yourself too. Of course the firm wants to see if you’ll be a good lawyer, but they also want to see that you’re someone that other people will want to share an office with. If you come across as arrogant, laid back or even too intense, you might give off the wrong impression. Be friendly and engaging, ask questions and take an interest in what’s going on around you. 

Remember that doing a vacation scheme is a two-way process. It’s as much a chance for you to find out if you like the firm as it is for them to work out if you’ll be a good fit. 

Vacation schemes are an integral part of the training contract application process and are very important. Many firms now recruit solely from their vacation scheme so this could be your one and only chance to show them what you can do. 

If you’re lucky enough to nab a spot on a vacation scheme, work hard and take every opportunity to find out as much as you can about the firm. 

Our vacation scheme deadline table has all the dates you need. Start researching now! 

How do I research a law firm and when should I start?

The training contract application process can be quite long winded. Before you commit yourself to it, you will need to be confident that this is a career path you want to pursue. So when should you start your research and how can you  find out which law firm might be the best fit for you?

Early doors

It’s never too early to start researching.

Many firms run open days or insight schemes for prospective trainees. Often there are targeted events for first-year students, regardless of degree subject, so you really can start to learn about a firm as early as you want.

If you’re thinking about a career in law or want to show your dedication to becoming a lawyer, sign up for an open day. It’s the perfect opportunity to learn about the firm and the legal industry more widely. It also shows the firm in question that you’re keen!

Read up

A law firm’s website is a good place to start your research. You can also consult guides such as Future Lawyers and The Legal 500 to find out what a firm’s specialisms, strengths (and weaknesses!) are.

Law/careers fairs

Most universities will have a law or careers fair, usually in the autumn term. Attending one of these fairs is a good way to start your research as there will be many firms exhibiting in the same place at the same time.

Law firms will usually send a variety of people to represent them at the fair. This could be a mix of trainee solicitors, graduate recruitment managers and sometimes NQs.

Have a look at the attendees ahead of time and start narrowing down which firms you might like to speak to. Once you have made a list of which firms you want to approach, jot down a few questions you might like to ask them.

When it comes to filling out an application form, you could mention that you met representatives from the firm at the law fair, so be sure to get their names!

Vacation schemes

If you’re a second-year law student or a final year student in another subject, you can start applying for vacation schemes. A vacation scheme is normally one to two weeks long and is essentially a period of work experience but where you are assessed throughout. There will probably be an interview at the end of the scheme too.

Although this may seem daunting, spending a week or two at a law firm is a great way to get to know the business. It’s also a chance for you to experience life as a solicitor and to decide whether you can see yourself doing it long term.

Some law firms run autumn or winter vacation schemes. The applications for these will usually close in September or October.

Most firms run summer vacation schemes and you will normally need to apply for these by the end of January.

Check our vacation scheme deadline table for exact dates.

Talk Talk

Find out as much as you can from other people. Do you know anyone who works in the legal industry? If so, ask them to meet up for a coffee or a chat.

Of course, not everyone has contacts in the legal industry so you might have to think outside the box.

A friend of a friend, a classmate’s sibling, or one of your neighbours could all be of help. You could also ask your university’s careers service.

Slowly does it

You need to leave enough time to do your research before you start filling out application forms.

And if you don’t get a vacation scheme in your first year of trying, don’t give up! You can continue applying in subsequent years and once you have graduated.

Just remember that every application form or interview is good practice.

Passports at the ready: Dechert international secondments

An overseas secondment is an indisputable bonus of training at an international law firm.  Following a stint abroad, trainees return armed with a newfound confidence and a network of colleagues from around the globe. We spoke with Dechert trainees about the perks of undertaking an international seat.

Dechert’s six-seat training contract ensures that all trainees can expect at least one secondment in one of the firm’s international offices. Recent secondment opportunities have included a financial services seat in Dublin or Singapore, a competition seat in Brussels or a litigation-focused client secondment in Toulouse.

Dublin trainee Rachael McKendry is currently on secondment to Dechert’s London office, whilst London trainee Catherine Adams is three months into a seat in the Dublin office.

Dechert’s global footprint was a huge factor in Rachael’s decision to apply: ‘I wanted the opportunity to work with colleagues in different offices and work on cross-border matters’. Now well into the second year of her training contract, Rachael has frequently found herself working on matters with an international element. ‘On any given day I could be working with colleagues from, say, New York, Boston, Hong Kong or London. It makes the work so varied and interesting’.

The opportunity to move abroad was also an enticement for Catherine. ‘I’m quite familiar with the whole idea of living in a different country. I had spent time abroad during my degree and again after graduating from university, and I was keen for that to continue.’ And her secondment to Dublin has not disappointed, ‘So far, Ireland has felt very homely!’

Despite the geographical proximity of the Irish capital and London, the prospect of moving to an unfamiliar city and starting a new job all at the same time can still be a daunting one. To make the transition as smooth as possible, Dechert has all bases covered. Rachael received details and pictures of her London accommodation in advance, was picked up from the airport and even had a gym membership set up for her by the firm. A few days before starting work, she was also invited to attend a training session and social event at her new workplace. ‘Meeting everyone in a social setting, from partners to trainee supervisors to the trainees themselves, was brilliant. It put me at ease and I felt a lot more confident going in on the Monday already knowing what to expect’.

The Dublin office is an integral part of Dechert’s international network. The bulk of the work undertaken is finance-focused, making a secondment to the Irish office a great option for trainees looking to qualify in this area. This was a particularly attractive proposition for Catherine, who had already completed (and enjoyed!) a financial services seat in London and was keen to build on the knowledge she had acquired. So far, she has found the work to be similar, albeit with a slightly different angle, due in part to its focus on Irish funds.

One of the attractions of a secondment in Dechert’s London office for Rachael was the range of practice areas on offer, in particular litigation, where she is currently sitting. The interplay between the different departments was also intriguing. ‘I already knew the firm was very collaborative from dealing with other offices internationally but it’s so interesting to see how the different practice areas in the London office collaborate and work with each other’. And although the London office is much larger than its Irish counterpart, Rachael certainly doesn’t feel as though she’s been given any less responsibility. ‘As a secondee I feel like I’m on the same level as all the other trainees, which is great because it gives me the sense of being able to contribute just as much’.

Similarly, in Dublin, trainees are afforded high levels of responsibility from the get-go thanks to the close-knit teams. ‘Here I’m given an overview of the matter, what my tasks will be and I’m trusted to go away and complete them’, says Catherine. The people aren’t bad either: ‘everyone’s been really friendly and welcoming even though I’m only here for a short time. It’s been easy to get to know everyone quite quickly – I’ll be sorry to leave!’

If the professional experience isn’t enough of an enticement, the opportunity to get to know a new city might be. Rachael is making the most of living in London’s vibrant Smithfield area and finds plenty of time to explore the capital at weekends. ‘I’ve had a lot of visitors dying to come over; it’s amazing how quickly Christmas rushes in when all your weekends are full’! Catherine agrees: ‘my house is like a hotel at the moment’!

So has moving abroad for four months brought with it any challenges? ‘Nothing has caught me out’, says Catherine, ‘the only thing is that I’ve always lived with someone so living on my own was a bit of an adjustment’. Rachael has found the transition equally problem-free. ‘I didn’t know too many people in London but that really hasn’t been an issue at all here. I’ve made so many friends, be they trainees or other members of the team’.

Both are agreed that trainees should jump at the chance of undertaking an international secondment if they are offered the opportunity. To sum up: ‘I’ll take away a better sense of Dechert’, says Rachael. ‘Although it’s never lost on me that it’s an international firm, having now experienced more than one office, I’ve seen that culture of collaboration at work. I’ve seen how people can transition between different offices seamlessly because it is so international’.

Dechert’s London office recruits ten trainees a year exclusively through its vacation schemes. Applications for the spring and summer vacation schemes are open now and close on 31 January 2020. Click here to apply.