Successful Training Contract Application Example - FREE

Purple briefcase
Next City Lawyer
May 6, 2021
[time to read]
min read

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  • shows candidates what a successful vacation scheme / training contract application looks like
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The bolded sentence was most critical for us.  Many of our readers can source winning applications to glance at, but it’s hard to reverse-engineer an application.  You need to identify what the candidate did correctly and then apply the same principles to your own work.  If you copy whole sections, you risk getting caught by law firms’ anti-plagiarism software.  If you paraphrase, you risk sounding robotic and vanilla.  Graduate recruitment teams read thousands of training contract applications each year - do you really want yours to sound like someone else’s?

That’s why we created our Application Database.  It’s the only source of successful law firm training contract and vacation scheme applications with expert commentary from qualified lawyers from leading US, Magic Circle and Silver Circle firms.  Our market-leading commentary is the missing ingredient that can really help you learn how to write brilliant law firm applications on your own.

We hope you enjoy the below free sample of our analysis of a successful training contract application form to Memery Crystal, a rapidly growing commercial law firm in London. We have set out the original student answer first (so you can test yourself on the good/bad elements) followed by our insights. As this is Part 1, we have included only half of the application.

We now have over 80 successful vacation scheme and training contract applications for ~60 different firms available to buy for only £9.99 each.

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Training Contract Application - Memery Crystal

Question 1 - Original Application Answer

Tell us about something you have achieved or are passionate about apart from your academic studies.

“My most significant achievement is when I personally established an adaptive (disability skiing) sub-division of my ski school in Switzerland. It was important to me to do this because I felt that disabilities should not be a barrier to participation. I was solely responsible for fundraising, marketing, insurance and health and safety compliance. I enjoyed taking on this level of responsibility as I witnessed the beneficial impact it had on clients.

I led on fundraising by encouraging the team to run a half-marathon, which secured £2,000 for specialist equipment. We achieved this target 5 weeks in advance of our target, which meant we exceeded our fundraising by 37%.

I also led on the school’s marketing activities. I posted on disability forums and Facebook pages and had friends advertise on our behalf. Having worked as a volunteer instructor with Disability Snowsports UK, there were numerous clients who could vouch for my professionalism and the reputation of the school. I drew on this to demonstrate the professionalism of the school and the experience we could offer. I also reached out to a disability specific UK gym and built a relationship which allowed us to reach a wider number of people.

I was able to effectively build a rapport with accommodation and transportation providers in order to negotiate a significant discount for clients. The outcome was that the client could book with ease and secure a significant discount. The scheme continues to grow in attracting more people every year.”

Question 1 - Next City Lawyer Analysis

Paragraph 1

This question invites a STAR-structured reply: situation, task, action, response/result. Hence, we would recommend splitting your answer in four paragraphs, where each paragraph clearly signposts the next section of the structure. You should also note that this question invites some flexibility: you may write on an achievement or a passion. Make sure you are clear in your answer as to what aspect of the question you wish to address/are addressing.

This candidate does well to introduce and contextualise his answer in the opening paragraph, and he also begins to explain why the example is of importance to the candidate. At times the applicant’s phrasing could have been improved; for example, the candidate could have rewritten the opening sentence to avoid the use of brackets which somewhat disrupts the flow of the answer. Furthermore, a little more background context would have been useful – the candidate could have mentioned what year this was in and why he was part of a ski school. Nevertheless, this paragraph is a decent representation of a ‘situation’-paragraph.

Paragraph 2

First, we would like to highlight that the candidate does extremely well regarding the specificity of his/her writing. We always recommend that candidates use facts and statistics to substantiate their examples and claims. These two sentences, written by the candidate, exemplify this advice when put into practice.

Secondly, however, these two sentences unfortunately do not fit into the overall answer. It is a little unclear as to how the preceding paragraph flows into this one, and what exactly the candidate is talking about. Remember to use introductory sentences and signposting to establish what each of your paragraphs is doing: you need to show whether it is extrapolating on a preceding paragraph or it is an entirely new point. If it is a new point, you will need to demonstrate this with an introductory word or phrase (e.g. ‘additionally’).

Finally, the candidate’s phraseology could be slightly improved. For example, ‘I led on fundraising’ is a slightly strange way of wording what the candidate meant. Make sure your writing is as clear as possible; it is always better to have simpler, shorter sentences than to have long-winded prose. You should remember that law firms will be assessing the quality of your written application, and so any spelling and grammatical errors will count against you, with no exceptions made for international students (see our free guide to getting a training contract as an international student here).

Paragraph 3

This is a decent paragraph in which the candidate has done well to highlight the role played in expanding the service offering of the ski school he worked at. The candidate has also been able to subtly discuss some core competencies, such as entrepreneurship, which helps to augment the strength of their answer.

However, as with the preceding paragraph, the candidate’s phrasing is slightly cumbersome; for example, ‘I also led on the school’s marketing activities’, and ‘a disability specific UK gym’. Regarding the ‘disability specific’ paragraph, the candidate should be very careful in his phrasing. Though this merely comes across as clunky, when discussing more delicate matters, such clunky phrasing can be misconstrued as insensitive.

Finally, the applicant unnecessarily repeated some of his answer in consecutive paragraphs: ‘numerous clients who could vouch for my professionalism and the reputation of the school. I drew on this to demonstrate the professionalism of the school and the experience we could offer’ [emphasis added]. We would have recommended merging these two sentences together to cut down the number of words used, and to avoid unnecessary repetition.

Paragraph 4

Though this is a decent concluding/‘result’ paragraph, it suffers from not having some key terms/events defined or fully developed, respectively. Throughout this answer, the candidate should have made it explicitly clear what the task was regarding setting up this scheme.

While it is implied, the reader is never told exactly what the candidate had to set out and do. Furthermore, who were the clients? Notwithstanding the reader’s ability to infer who the clients may be, it would have been better, once again, for the candidate to be explicit.

Additionally, it would have been good to read about why the candidate was committed to securing a good discount for the clients – though it seems like an intuitive aim, it actually is something of note. Remember, law firms want to employ someone who is focused not only on the needs of the firm but also on the needs of the client.

Finally, the last sentence of the paragraph is a little weak – the candidate would have benefited from adding some statistics to evidence how the scheme has grown and, thereby, what their tangible value-add for his ski school was.

When writing your concluding/‘response/result’ paragraph, make sure you reread your answer to check that your conclusion makes sense in light of what you have written. Much like when you write a university essay, your conclusion should be a summary of what you have written and a distillation of any key findings as a result of your previous analysis. Though law firm applications might seem less formal than such academic assignments, your formality and the quality of your writing should be at the same level."

Question 2 - Original Application Answer

Based on what you know about Memery Crystal; please give 3 reasons why you have chosen us and 3 reasons why we should choose you?

“Clear sector focus

I am drawn to Memery Crystal’s commercial practice because I have a profound interest in businesses and the markets they operate in. I was excited to learn of Memery Crystal’s AIM focus because of the opportunity to learn about clients in different industries and jurisdictions.

I listened to Nick Alfillé discuss at the Open Day on the 19th November how the firm assists the client throughout their life-cycle and read with interest about Pelatro’s first acquisition following its admission to AIM in 2017 as evidence of this. I would add value to Memery Crystal because I would have a genuine interest in the firm’s clients.

Trainee experience

The Open Day reinforced my understanding of Memery Crystal as a firm where the trainee is afforded responsibility from the outset. In particular I am drawn to the one-to-one trainee experience and friendly and supportive approach.

I would add value to Memery Crystal because as a funds paralegal at [redacted law firm] I have been afforded responsibility by way of working as the sole paralegal on co-investments and drafting facility agreements. I have experience working as a team and individually to meet client expectations and contribute meaningfully to the firm.


Memery Crystal is an innovative firm as evidenced by its status as market leaders in medical cannabis and appointment as the exclusive legal partner to the Centre for Medical Cannabis. I am drawn to Memery Crystal because it stays ahead of the curve and is willing to embrace new industries.

I would add value to Memery Crystal because I recognise that innovation is important from a firm perspective and individually. For example, I regularly read around innovation strategies and have taken a keen interest in data sets and how they can assist law firms in the future.”

Question 2 - Next City Lawyer Analysis

Section 1 - Clear Sector Focus

The candidate has split his answer into three clear sections which helps maintain a logical structure and prevents them from missing any crucial information out.

This section picks out a unique aspect of the firm, namely the firm’s focus on companies listed on the AIM stock exchange. Some excellent evidence is provided by the candidate, notably mentioning by name the individual the candidate listened to on an open day and discussing a specific deal.

However, the candidate’s answer could do with improvement when it comes to depth. Most of this section is quite generic and does not go into the details of the firm’s sector focus nor the candidate’s interest in the mentioned sector. Given the limited word count, the applicant should have gone straight into the details of the firm’s sector focus, and then drawn out specifically why he is attracted to it.  This is an excellent opportunity to demonstrate your commercial awareness.  Remember, you must substantiate your claims by providing specific, personal evidence – it is not enough to just assert that you have a ‘genuine interest in the firm’s clients’, you must evidence that interest in the clients of the particular law firm that you are applying to.

Section 2 - Trainee experience

This is a stronger section – the candidate’s use of their previous work experience does well to evidence their claim of enjoying high levels of responsibility. However, much like the previous section, the student would have been better off spending a little more time unpacking what exactly is unique about Memery Crystal’s one-to-one trainee experience. For example, the candidate’s answer would have benefited from the addition of some specific examples or testimonies that evidenced the existence or effectiveness of such an experience.

Furthermore, though the discussion of the candidate’s work as a paralegal is fitting, the candidate could have been a little more specific when describing the kinds of work they completed. Again, you should be as specific as possible because facts and statistics add credence to your answer and better show off your abilities.

Finally, the last sentence of this section is a little ill-fitting with the paragraph it is in. The candidate has used this section to discuss how they work well alone with high levels of responsibility. Naturally, teamwork is essential to working in a law firm, and the candidate felt as though they needed to mention their ability to work in a team. However, the student has “tagged” this teamwork-sentence on and it does not serve the answer well. If needed, you should link your sentences together with introductory words – this will help you properly demonstrate your logical thought process to the reader. For example, the candidate could have written: “In addition to working well in one-on-one settings, I also have extensive experience working in teams. [insert evidence here]”.

Section 3 - Innovation

In light of the demanding question and the restrictive word limit, this is a good section. The candidate has used specific evidence to substantiate his claim that the firm is innovative and has linked that claim back to themselves and why he would fit the firm on those grounds.

The only point of improvement would be regarding the last paragraph: though the candidate gives some evidence for why innovation is important to him, it would have been better if the candidate provided some more personal and specific examples rather than generically stating ‘read around innovation strategies’. This is not a bad example, however, to write this, the candidate would have needed to specify what strategies they read about and why they are interested in those specific strategies. Indeed, the same comment goes for the statement “how they can assist law firms in the future” – instead of stating that, the candidate could have actually specified how such strategies and data sets can help law firms.  Again, this is another opportunity to showcase your commercial awareness by demonstrating that you understand what innovation actually means for law firms.  

We hope you have enjoyed this free sample from our Application Database.  If you want to see more applications and commentary like this to help you secure vacation schemes and training contracts, our reviews of >70 other successful applications for >60 firms are available to buy for just £14.99 each.

You can learn more about how we can help you secure a training contract here.  

  • Our Application Database has >95 examples of successful applications for >70 different law firms for £14.99 each. Each application includes expert line-by-line commentary by our team of qualified solicitors from US, Magic Circle and Silver Circle firms to help you craft your own perfect application and secure a training contract.
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