Step 2: Assessing your employability

What does it take to be a lawyer? What are recruiters looking for, and have you got the experience and skills they want?

Step 2 Resource book

Our resource book provides a comprehensive guide to those qualities legal recruiters are seeking in candidates. Legal experience, academic qualifications and transferable skills are all important and you need to consider how you ‘match up’ to the requirements of your chosen profession in the sector of the market in which you wish to pursue a career.

Step 2 Weblinks

Below is a list of key websites which will provide you with useful information to help you assess your employability

  • The Bar Council:
    Website of the Bar Council, the representative body of the Bar.
  • The Law Society:
    The representative body for the solicitors’ profession. This site contains links to various membership group, information about practice areas and legal developments. This site also houses the Find a Solicitor database
    The National Recognition Information Centre for the United Kingdom provides the only official source of comparison information on international education and qualifications.
  • Ucas:
    The central application website for entry to higher education: includes information for prospective students and advice on qualifications

Step 2 Workshop

The law is a competitive profession to enter, our online workshop will introduce you to the skills and qualities required in law and sought by legal recruiters.

You can also read the transcript here.

Step 2 Activities

Our skills form allows you to find the evidence from your own experience which shows you have what it takes to be a lawyer. It also allows you to assess how strong your abilities are, and identify actions you may need to take to enhance these before making applications.

Download our skills form here

Step 2 FAQs

Assessing your employability

Are mature students disadvantaged?

Is it difficult to get a training contract with a 2.2?

How much does your first year versus your second year of your degree count when applying for training contracts?

What do employers look for?


Q. Are mature students disadvantaged?

A. We have many mature students at the University and, depending on what you have done before the change to law, you can even be better placed than younger counterparts when it comes to the training contract or pupillage market. For example, if you have worked in a relevant related sector - for instance in insurance and you are now seeking to go into insurance litigation, or in medicine and interested in clinical negligence, you will clearly have relevant experience, and possibly contacts, that are likely to be of interest for recruiters with specialisms in your area of expertise.

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Q. Is it difficult to get a training contract with a 2.2?

A. It is hard to generalise, as some candidates with a 2.2 may have genuine mitigating circumstances, which a firm may take into account, or be an outstanding candidate in all other respects (eg have an impeccable previous academic record, postgraduate qualifications, and/or have spent years in a highly relevant industry sector of interest to a firm).

That said, having a 2.2 usually impacts in the following ways: firstly it can restrict the type of firms you apply to (many big City firms require a 2.1 and As and Bs at A level), so you will need to target your firms carefully. Secondly, you would be well advised to work on ‘beefing up’ the other areas of your CV such as relevant work experience and thirdly, you may need to be more flexible and dogged in order to achieve your goal. 

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Q. How much does your first year versus your second year of your degree count when applying for training contracts?

A. It will depend on the type of firm you are applying to. If you are targeting large City firms, they will look closely at your 1st, 2nd and 3rd year results, as they want to see consistently strong academics, but by no means all firms will be looking in such detail.

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Q. What do employers look for?

A. In general terms (and each employer may vary) academics are often first in many employers’ minds. They will also be looking closely for commercial awareness and transferable skills (communication, team-working, problem solving and so on). They also want to see some evidence of a commitment to a career in law, usually provided through recent relevant work experience. Finally, a number of employers who have given talks at the University recently, have also stressed their interest in seeing “something different” about a candidate that sets them apart from the rest.

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Step 2 In brief

Download our ‘in brief’ guide for a summary of the key points you need to consider when assessing your legal employability.

Practice areas

Information on different areas of the law: what it covers, what it's like in practice, current issues, and further information.

Case studies

University staff pass on their experience of what it's like to work as a lawyer in practice.