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How to go about applying for a Training Contract at Lanyon Bowdler

We are now approaching the time of year when the deadline closes for applications for training contracts. Training partner Colin Spanner and current trainees Lynsey Cater and Louise Howard answer questions on what Lanyon Bowdler look for in a trainee and what to expect.

Why Lanyon Bowdler?

As a firm Lanyon Bowdler is modern and very client focused. The firm provides a full range of legal advice throughout Shropshire and Herefordshire, as well as nationally. Having previously been winners of Lawcareers.Net’s Trainee Solicitor Award for ‘Best Recruiter – Small Firm’ in 2009 (also winner in 2004 and nominated 2007 & 2008), the firm was nominated in the Best Trainer category of these awards in 2010.

The firm is recognised as Investors in People and our commitment to training and development was acknowledged in 2009 when we won the Training Award at the Midlands Business Awards. 2010 also saw us win the Law Firm of the Year (5 - 15 partners) at the Birmingham Law Society Legal Awards.

How many trainees do you take on?

At Lanyon Bowdler the policy is to offer two training contracts each year. As a training contract lasts two years, we therefore have four trainees at any one time, with two joining in September each year.

How many applications do you receive?

Each year we are inundated with applications for training contracts. This is especially so as not many local firms regularly take on trainees. This year we received 270 applications for a contract in 2011.

When is the closing date?

All positions for 2011 have now been filled. Applications for 2012 need to be submitted by 31 January 2011.

What do you look for in potential trainees?

To begin with, good academic records, and not just at degree level. We look back as far as GCSEs and A Levels. It is also important that a potential candidate is local to the area, or has connections with it, as we do like to retain our trainees. Hobbies and interests are also of relevance, as someone who has taken a year out or done some voluntary work shows that they have made the extra effort – this may give them an advantage over someone with identical qualifications.

What areas of law do trainees have ‘seats’ in?

Trainees usually spend six months in a department so that over the contract period they gain experience in four areas of work, one of which will be contentious. Lanyon Bowdler has a wide range of legal departments and where possible, trainees are given a choice of seats.

What can I expect if I am invited to interview?

Lynsey Cater said “when I was interviewed there was a two stage process but no presentation. I was asked questions which were aimed at the particular stage I was at and what I was studying at the time.”

Louise Howard’s experience was “a first general interview which included talking about the details on my CV, (I was so nervous I couldn’t remember what A-Levels I had done and had to be prompted), and legal questions. The questions were tailored to the stage of my training, for example I hadn’t yet completed the LPC so they concentrated on areas of law I would have covered on the CPE. The second interview included questions on current affairs where the interviewers clearly wanted to hear you talk and see how you reasoned about a particular situation.”

What can I expect if I am offered a Training Contract?

The SRA requirement is that once a training contract has started, the trainee needs to keep a training record which must be completed throughout the two year period and submitted to the training principal at the end. It should record all the tasks completed whilst being a trainee and includes information such as – who the task was completed for, what the task was, what skills were used and what was learnt from it.

There are also the compulsory modules of the Professional Skills Course to complete. These cover client care, finance and business skills, advocacy and communication. There are a further four elective modules which you chose according to what areas of law you are interested in…….and just when you think all exams are over, there’s a finance exam!

What happens then?

Lanyon Bowdler has an excellent record of retaining its trainees. The range of areas of law covered by the firm offers great opportunities for those wishing to train in law.

Lynsey Cater is now a fully qualified solicitor and working in Lanyon Bowdler’s Commercial Property Department and Louise Howard is currently in her last seat and due to complete her training contract in September 2011.