We know it can be a daunting task when faced with submitting applications for vacation schemes and we want you to be able to perform to the best of your ability. That is why we have put together this (not exhaustive, but hopefully helpful) set of tips to aid you when it comes to completing your application form with us. It is worth noting that whilst this is tailored to the Mishcon application it may also be useful if you are applying elsewhere.
Should you be applying to us?
Ideally you will have spent time before you even begin looking at application forms filtering down your chosen list of firms. To do this many candidates start by looking at the practice areas which interest them most and end up with a long list of firms which operate in these fields. You may then want to filter on things such as location, firm size, salary etc. Once you have a shortlist you should continue to further narrow down based on other factors such as the growth of the firm, the culture, the length of hours generally worked by trainees, the opportunity to get involved in pro-bono work etc. – basically anything which is important to you in your working life.
You want to be very confident that any firm you apply to is one where you could thrive and you should be using all of the resources at your fingertips to ascertain this as best you can. It is actually very obvious to employers when candidates haven’t gone through this process.
A huge part of being a lawyer is being able to communicate effectively and succinctly. This is important in both your verbal and written communication. The application form is testing the written element so do not disappoint – in order for your form to be considered it needs to read well. Ask someone else to read over it for you. They can tell you if there are any portions which don’t make sense or have typos, spelling mistakes etc. – and they don’t need to be familiar with the world of law to do this, so parents and housemates are perfect as a second pair of eyes.
Read the questions properly and answer them fully.
It sounds obvious but many questions will have multiple parts to them so you need to make sure that you break the question down and answer everything that is being asked of you.
In this section you should make sure to include any paid work experience you have undertaken. We have had candidates in the past who have excluded non-legal related work as they feel it won’t be of interest to us. Please don’t ‘self-censor’ in this regard – make sure to include it. If you don’t have space in the work experience section you can add it at the end of the form in the ‘additional information’ box.
Make your application stand out.
Most graduate recruiters are at this moment bracing themselves for a long season of reading application forms. Every year there will be a business related news item which 90% of candidates choose to talk about in their application form. The European Referendum and Brexit has been written about by lots of candidates before you. As a result, this topic quickly becomes extremely generic to those reading the responses. Don’t fall into this trap on your application form. Try to think of answers that will really grab the attention of the person reading. It may take a little more thought and time but it’s likely that doing this well will pay dividends when it comes to your application success rate.
This is particularly important when it comes to our ‘choose an issue’ question. This question may be slightly different to ones that you have come across on other application forms and whilst we do provide guidance on the form itself, many people don’t tackle this question as well as they might otherwise do with a bit more thought.
Spell the name of the firm correctly!!
So many applicants spell our name incorrectly. Attention to detail is a very important skill in the world of law – check, check and triple check this.
Lastly, we want to say that we really appreciate the time taken by each of our applicants to complete our application form. That is why we read each one individually and don’t use any form of automated filtering. It takes us a while to read through all of them so we really appreciate your patience in waiting for a response from us. Please note that we do recruit on a rolling basis (we don’t wait until the deadline to begin reviewing applications), so the earlier you apply, the earlier you will hear back about the status of your application. Last year we received nearly 400 applications in the last few days so do be aware that if you wait until that time, it will take longer for us to come back to you.
Thanks for reading!