Magic Circle law firms refer to the leading solicitor law firms in the UK. These firms include Clifford Chance, Allen & Overy, Freshfields, and several others. Getting a training contract interview at one of them is a tremendous step in your legal career. However, actually going for the interview can be quite daunting. We spoke to 5 of our law tutors at Über Tutors who advise on writing Vacation Scheme and Training Contract applications, and provide bespoke interview preparation.
Here are their 5 top tips for anyone undergoing a training contract interview at a Magic Circle law firm.
1. Do your homework
First of all, research the firm to shows your interviewers that you have chosen their firm for a reason. The Magic Circle law firms and chambers are very similar but at the same time also different. Our law tutor Shalina, therefore, recommends that when asked, you take some time to show that you understand how your particular interviewer differs from their competitors and their position in the overall market. Your interviewer will definitely appreciate someone who can give a nuanced answer.
Nonetheless, expect to be challenged. It is unlikely you will know all the answers in your training contract interview since Magic Circle firms and chambers are top for good reason and only hire top candidates. Just remember to take deep breaths, and to remain both calm and confident!
2. Build your commercial awareness
Shalina knows this is somewhat of an awkward buzzword but that doesn’t make it any less important. Commercial awareness is not something you can cram in a week, so our law tutor Margarita suggests that you regularly read up on financial news, keep updated with the work of your interviewer and be fluent in legal jargon.
For example, do you know what business and legal issues may arise in a mergers and acquisitions (M&A) deal which lawyers must know about? Since most international law firms regularly work on M&A deals, they will likely ask a question like this in a training contract interview. We wouldn’t want your lack of in-depth understanding let you down. If you don’t know how to prepare an answer for this question, get in touch with the right people. Our law tutors, for example, provide in-depth coaching all the time.
To further build your commercial awareness as you prepare for your training contract interview, banks, consultancies and law firms often host open events on current issues. This is a great way to get the industry outlook on topical issues and maybe even forge great connections.
3. Prepare good questions that show your interest
Don’t just ask generic questions. Most Magic Circle firms will tell you ahead of time who will interview you. Seize this opportunity to look up the person thoroughly, have some idea about their area of practice and try to ask a question that is related to that area and sparks their interest to show that you have done your research. It also gives them the chance to talk about their practice area, which, if they have been working in it for several years, is most likely their passion and something they enjoy talking about. As our company director always advises: “Remember, your answers are really about them, not you.”
4. First impressions really are everything
Our law tutor Akeem reminded us that people will make a quick judgment, so make those first few seconds count. Dress to impress (within reason) and keep good eye contact throughout the interview. Keep your energy levels up and show that you are enthusiastic and a great addition to the team!
5. Be confident
This should go without saying but what Shalina doesn’t mean is to simply show an air of false confidence. She wants you to remember that the firm who invited you thinks you have the necessary credentials on paper, so the training contract interview is about showing that in person. Unlike what others may advise you, interviewers know all the tricks in the book, so being confident also means being confident in things you don’t know. There is nothing worse than pretending that you know about a complex topic and being caught out. Therefore, if you are unfamiliar with a topic, admit that you’re not necessarily aware of everything. Then go onto demonstrating what you do know. It demonstrates integrity and shows them what kind of trainee you would be.
Get in touch
This is a list of points to consider when going for a training contract interview at one of the Magic Circle firms and chambers. What you need now is practice, practice, practice, which we can help you with at Über Tutors. Our Training Contract consultations are in high demand and our service has proven to be a priceless investment as we have had great success in placing students in top UK law firms and barristers’ chambers in London and around the world.
So, contact us today by calling 02030867311 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. We would be more than happy to help you gain the necessary skills it takes to write an application for a Magic Circle firm and learn the necessary interview skills. If you are interested in law tutoring more generally, read about how it could boost your degree here.