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Half of law students not confident about getting a training contract

More work needed in teaching 'soft skills'

6 August 2013

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Nearly half of law students are not confident about getting a training contract after university, a survey has found.

Forty-seven per cent said they were considering other careers as a backup despite almost half claiming they began planning for a legal career before university, according to the survey carried out by careers website Target Jobs.

Most of the 600 students asked were happy with the quality of their degree (over 50 per cent), but felt unprepared when it came to skills like client handling, advocacy, team work and networking.

This lack of 'soft skill' training in universities was highlighted by the LETR in May, which placed on emphasis on students learning management skills at an early stage in their legal education.

When choosing training contracts, salary was not a major factor with students placing type of law, firm reputation and location higher in their list of factors.

Students hedged their bets however when it came to predicting their future salary. Almost 15 per cent said they expected to earn £31,000-£40,000 in their first job after graduating. 24 per cent gave a salary expectation of £21,000-£25,000, while 22 per cent said £16,000-£20,000.

In a parallel survey, Target Jobs spoke to 281 recent graduates about their experiences since starting work. Over 60 per cent of recent graduates felt their degree prepared them 'quite well' for work, with almost a fifth saying it prepared them 'very well'.

When it came to researching potential employers, students largely cited legal career sites, read a firm's website or use their university's career service. Thirty-five per cent said that career fairs were the most important form of employer contact.

Fewer than a quarter of students followed firms on social media, yet 40 per cent said they would like to engage with them.

Target Jobs spoke to 600 students. 74 per cent were female, and 81 per cent were studying law or a related degree with the other 20 per cent expressing interest in a legal career.

About a third were final year students with slightly more graduating in 2014 and 2015.

Recent graduates of up to two years, currently trainee solicitors, were also approached, via their firms, to take part in the graduate survey and 281 completed it. 64 per cent were female and 62 per cent had graduated in law. 90 per cent were in the first two years of work after graduation.

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