Facing Rejection from Training Contract Applications

There is no doubt that the traditional route of applications for Vac scheme/ Bar/ pupilage taken by many aspiring lawyers can be both mentally and physically draining, more so when applying to commercial city firms where the competition is even more fierce and rejection more ruthless.

Given the number of rejections us Law students face on a regular basis, it is not surprising to see how we still continue no matter the caseload, hours, clients we take on. Is it our way of compensating for the amount of debt we now lie in or is it how the law industry is designed for us to navigate ourselves in? To create resilient, robust and efficient lawyers.

Regardless, I have not been immune to rejection myself and it is at that moment when you’re receiving that phone call or email informing you of your unsuccessful application where you begin to seriously re-evaluate the past few years of sweat, blood and tears you have ploughed into applications and studying. At that moment, it is only you that can lift yourself back up again and remind yourself why you should keep going.

To summarise, I have devised some strategies that you can perhaps use to help with initial rejection and those initial thoughts racing through your mind where you’re reminding yourself of every reason to stop.

1. New opportunities? In the end, it is all about perspective. No matter how you look at it, each rejection will have some good in it. Didn’t get the Interview? Maybe that firm wasn’t the right fit for you. Perhaps try and get some feedback so you can improve for an interview with a firm you might like a little more. Furthermore, you can divert your attention to doing things that might improve your applications; invest time into your grades, seek out volunteering opportunities or engage in extra-curricular. Regardless, one thing is clear you need to improve your application.

2. Are you strong enough? Get through this and congratulations, you now have what it takes to be a lawyer. Crumble now and you’ll never make it. Slight exaggerations but, If you give up so quickly over a minor setback and you will never make it. Life isn’t a bed of roses and you need to systematically teach yourself to bounce back in the face of adversity. That’s how you make resilient people and arguably, it is the most important quality needed in a lawyer or an entrepreneur. Our whole career will be based on tit-for-tat combat. You won’t last a second in the courtroom if you cannot learn to act positively and in a constructive manner in a difficult situation. Stress is an inherent part of the profession, so learn to deal with it now to ensure a smoother transition.

3. Everyone has been in your shoes… Those who seem to be succeeding were once in your position. They just learnt to deal with it quicker and not let failure/ rejection stop them. Everyone has had to work hard at some point in the process and they only learnt to work hard when they were faced with rejection. This included dealing with rejection in a constructive manner brush up on your application, writing and speaking skills.

4. Maybe they’re the problem? You could have the most amazing academics or experience and still not get an interview with a firm. The thing you have to remember is that every firm is different they all want different things in a potential applicant. Some firms place an 80% weighting on academics whilst others place that on work experience. Maybe you had the most amazing CV but they felt that you wouldn’t have been able to develop your skills as well in that firm. Think of it as maybe they didn’t fit YOU.

Image by Valeria P © Creative Commons



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