The truth is that they will reject you 90% of the time. However, don't take this rejection personally. Law firms receive thousands of requests for a few places, so they often resort to fairly arbitrary determinations about who an offer should be made to. This group fragmented in the early 2000s and now comprises the five that now form the “Magic Circle”, a term coined by legal journalists.
What do they look for in Linklaters training contract candidates? The deadline for Linklater's first and second year Pathfinder program is Thursday, February 15. Chambers Student, the student's companion for the legal profession, gives the truth about law firms and the Bar Association. Although a rather old-fashioned term, the phrase “the magic circle” has only been used since the late 1990s; before that, prestigious law firms were called the “Club of Nine”, and included Lovells (now Hogan Lovells), Norton Rose (now Norton Rose Fulbright), Herbert Smith (now Herbert Smith Freehills) and Stephenson Harwood. However, at the end of my training contract, it was clear to me that the specific skill set and technical knowledge required to practice corporate law really excited me; and that's how I was able to decide which department to apply for qualification from. There are other firms prowling around in these top-tier rankings, and many more firms lead other London rankings, but few can compete with the breadth of practice strengths that the Magic Circle can offer.
The structural nature of mathematics appealed to me and the fact that you have to reason through your answers has always seemed to have a certain parallelism with the law. Not to be confused with the magician's union of the same name, this is a nickname for a select group of five London law firms that share a focus on corporate and financial work. For those in their first year of college, now is the time to start thinking about gaining an insight into business law. Of the 23 ranking positions in these first two levels, 13 are occupied by firms of the Magic Circle (eight are occupied by US firms and only two by other firms in the native city).
So when it came to applying for training contracts, I was sure that I wanted to practice commercial law rather than, say, criminal law. Law provides you with many translatable skills and you can move into a variety of different professions. But I didn't really choose to specialize in corporate law until I worked as an apprentice at Allen & Overy. We were fortunate to have the opportunity to talk to Tara about her career so far, her ambitions for the future and what it's like to be an associate at an international law firm.