in Training Contracts, Pupillage and Work Experience

How many firms should I be applying to for a training contract

Potential trainee solicitors often worry that they are either applying for too many training contracts or too few. It is one area that people seek assurance on.

This is how we deal with it:

Firstly we ask what degree classification the person has – if you have a high 2.1 or 1st and went to a good university (I could write another article on the latter!) with straight A’s at conventional A levels, a consistent academic background from a ‘good’ school, a good mix of leisure interests, eg; captain of your local hockey team and work experience/vacation placements in a legal setting, you will probably find you do not need to apply much further than the big London firms and regional practices who advertise everywhere and anywhere. You will probably obtain interviews fairly rapidly. So the answer here would be probably a first wave of about 10, followed by more if required.

However if you got a 2.2, or have an inconsistent background, perhaps as a mature student, and dont really fit into the standard requirements of the larger practices or commercial firms, you will probably have to widen the net – if you are set on trying for the Magic Circle and commercial firms, you may have to do over 50 just to get one interview if that. If you are open minded about where you should be looking, you will also make a load of applications to high street firms. It is not unusual for someone with a 2.2 or 3rd to perhaps make over 100 applications, and if they are looking in the wrong place to then wonder why no interviews or responses have been forthcoming.

You have to be aware of who you are, where you are looking to end up, and what you have that a firm will be wanting. If you do not have sufficient skills or background to offer, chances are some or all of your applications will be a complete waste of time.

Similarly do not restrict your applications if the first wave get nowhere. Keep going. It can take a long time to get a response. 100 applications is fairly normal. 10 applications is fairly abnormal!

See our Legal Careers Shop for details of our Guide to Getting Work Experience and a Training Contract – free of charge to download.

Jonathan Fagan

Jonathan Fagan LLM FIRP is Managing Director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment. He has been recruiting solicitors and legal support staff for law firms and in house legal departments for over 20 years and handles roles from junior fee earners through to partners and law firm sales/purchases. A non-practising solicitor on the Roll since 2000, he is also the author of a number of legal career books, which are available at You can contact Jonathan at