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CV Tips for Training Contract Applications

Written by: Evie Courtier
Published on: 24 Aug 2023


  • Whether you are a recent graduate seeking your breakout role or are already working in the legal sector, applying for training contracts can feel like a daunting task. In the competitive world of law, how do you ensure your CV stays at the top of the pile?

    In this article, we will share our top tips on what to include in your CV to help you to secure a training contract.

  • Personal Statement

    The personal statement should be 4-5 sentences (around 150 words) long highlighting your expertise, demonstrating how your skillset aligns with the role. The personal statement is the first port of call on your CV; make it short, succinct, and tailored specifically to the job advert in question.


    “A recent law graduate, with a first class honours degree from University of St Andrews. Gained work experience as Assistant to a Barrister within [name of chambers], I honed my analytical and research skills, applying theoretical legal knowledge to deepen my understanding of the profession as well as liaising with clients. Through my experience, dedication and skillset I aspire to join [name of law firm] to learn from seasoned professionals, contribute to impactful cases, and develop my skills as a trainee Lawyer”


    Follow your personal statement with a list of hard, technical skills and accreditations unique to the training contract. Your skills section is for hard skills that demonstrate you as a strong prospective trainee, moving away from soft transferable skills, such as ‘team work’, ‘communication’, and ‘interpersonal skills’.


    "Quantifiable Skills:

    • Legal research: aptitude with various databases, case law, statutes, and legal precedents
    • Case preparation and management
    • Client interaction
    • Negotiation skills"

  • Work Experience

    Any experience you can demonstrate will bring value to your CV, whether it’s a summer internship, experience working as a Paralegal, or acting as a guest contributor to a legal blog. Legal experience of any duration is beneficial, so even if it was just shadowing a lawyer for a week, it’s still worth mentioning.

    If you’re lacking in work experience, highlight how you have shown an interest in the law in other ways, by attending law fairs or networking events. Voluntary work within a government body or even attending court as a member of the public will all help to showcase an interest in the legal sector.

    It’s fine to mention non-legal work experience (including part-time jobs), as long as you can demonstrate the transferable skills gained from this experience - give specific examples of how your studies and work experience have developed your skills.

    For example, if you had a part-time job in a shop, you can demonstrate how you have gained financial literacy, organisation and time management skills whilst in the role.

    Within your work experience section, ensure to mention any other accolades and accomplishments. Achievements, whether law-related or not, are still important to include. These could be awards, prizes, scholarships or commendations from either school, work or extracurricular activities.

  • Education and Qualifications

    As a recent graduate, your educational achievements are your key strength. List your qualifications in reverse chronological order, from your degree all the way through to GCSEs. Make sure to include the name of the institution, the dates you attended, the qualification and the grade.

    If you’re currently studying for the GDL or LPC, this should be at the top of your list, with the date you’re due to qualify.

    Any details of your undergraduate studies, such as specialist modules related to law or a law-related dissertation may be worth including if you didn’t do an LLB.

  • Structure and Format

    Ideally, your CV should be no more than two sides of A4, laid out in clear sections. Use headings and bullet points to coherently list details of your achievements, skills, experience etc.

    On occasion, some firms require candidates to structure their CVs in a certain way, so make sure to do your research and follow any required formats.

  • Change it Up

    In order to have the best shot at securing a training contract, it is recommended that you tailor your CV according to the specific contract in question.

    Do plenty of research into the firm or company and what the training contract entails. If there are certain values or cases mentioned on the firm’s website, you could allude to an interest in this area of law in either your personal statement or cover letter.

    Candidates who demonstrate a true interest and enthusiasm for a firm and their specific training contract are more likely to succeed than those who have applied to training contracts in bulk without any variation in their CV.

    Finally, proofread your CV to make sure that it is free of mistakes and inconsistencies. Do not be afraid to ask for help – it’s always beneficial to get a friend or family member to have a read through, or alternatively submit your CV for a free review with TopCV.


We hope you’ve found these tips helpful and wish you luck with your application process.

For more career advice, discover the dedicated Law Graduates section of the TotallyLegal blog.