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SQE Training Contracts: How to ace your application

View profile for Katelyn Webster
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Katelyn Webster is currently in her second year of Frettens Graduate Scheme, undertaking the SQE whilst taking on her first seat in our Family Team.

In this article, she sketches out her top tips for those looking to apply and describes her experience as a trainee so far.

Routes to qualification

There are two main routes to qualification. One being through the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE), and the other being the LPC (Legal Practice Course).

The SQE route is significantly cheaper than the LPC and doesn’t take as long, which is why a lot of graduates are opting for it. However, the LPC is still available for those interested.

The SQE prepares you for your first day as a newly qualified solicitor, whereas the LPC prepares you for your first day as a trainee. 

At Frettens, we have our very own three-year Graduate Scheme which incorporates the SQE route and makes it more accessible to qualify as a solicitor. Not only is the course and exams fully funded, but you also get additional study leave, a competitive salary and a host of other benefits.

Read the full list of benefits here.

How to apply for a training contract

Although, I applied for my training contract internally, applying for a training contract internally or externally can take a lot of time and can be draining.  So, I’ve provided some tips below to help make the process a bit smoother and quicker…

The first step is to send your CV and covering letter to our Operations Manager Catharine Snow on

If successful, you will be invited to your 1st Interview which will be conducted by our training principles, Karen Edwards, and Ben Cobbs. You will then be asked to complete a case study, before moving on to your 2nd and final interview.

Best practices

Choosing the correct firm that aligns with your values at the outset of your legal career can have a significant positive influence.

Therefore, in order to ensure that Frettens is the perfect place for you, I would advise anyone applying for a training contract to do some research about the company, our practice areas, and our culture.  

Quick tips

I recommend applying to a small number of companies - the ones that most appeal to you - rather than to hundreds of training contracts. This will allow you to give each application enough thought and customise your CV and cover letter to fit the needs of the company you are applying to.

I suggest taking your time and applying as soon as is practicable when it comes to training contracts, to ensure a smooth process.

Stand out from the crowd

The majority of employers select employees based more on their personality than their lengthy skill list. Talk about your ideas, your successes, and the lessons you've learned along the way with enthusiasm. Prove to them your originality, creativity, and uniqueness!

First and foremost, Frettens is a people business, therefore it's important that you can demonstrate your people skills.

Tips for your Cover Letter

Write a "short but sweet" cover letter, ideally no more than one page. Research the firm and customise your cover letter by including their ethos and how this relates to your values.

Given that I had no prior legal experience, I found creating a cover letter and CV to be very difficult. For this reason, I would suggest anyone in a similar situation to demonstrate a growth mindset.

Lastly, I would suggest ending your cover letter with a call to action, such as "I believe I can be a valuable addition to Frettens, and I hope to hear from you soon".

Tips for your CV

List your most recent qualifications and briefly discuss your older ones. Work experience is listed in order of most recent to oldest. In the event that you lack prior legal experience, highlight the skills you have acquired via different methods and indicate which ones might be useful in the legal industry.  It is important that you allow your personality to be seen, mention any accomplishments and hobbies.

Any other tips: Interview Tips

I believe that reviewing your CV and cover letter in order to get ready for the interview, taking a deep breath before going in, and keeping an open mind are all crucial pieces of advice.  Have a few questions ready for after the interview ends. This will demonstrate your interest and allow you to determine if the company is the right fit for you.

I was given some really helpful advice, one of which was to keep in mind that you were chosen for the interview because you fit the requirements. This is also an opportunity for you to learn more about the role and for the interviewer to get to know you as a person, so it's really important to be yourself!

What’s it like being a trainee?

Being a trainee might be nerve-racking, but it can also be intriguing and rewarding, in my experience. Every day is unique, and there's always something new to learn and I've come to realise that the more questions we ask, the more we are able to learn and grow.

As a trainee, I've had an incredible experience working with the Family Team on a variety of family law-related tasks, and the team have made me feel like a valued member of the group. Several duties have been assigned to me, including conducting research, writing statements, going to client meetings and court proceedings.

I sat down with my colleagues James Privett and Zoe Burcombe to discuss what the graduate scheme at Frettens is like in more detail. You can read that article here.

Or, read an article from Bethany Pinner, who is currently in her first year, where she discusses what her role involves day to day and the support she gets here.

Looking for a training contract?

We are currently looking for ambitious and bright graduates to join our scheme and get qualified!

If you’re great at communicating and able to work well with clients and colleagues, we want to hear from you.

Send your CV to our Operations Manager Catharine Snow on, or find out more first here.

Applications need to be submitted by 30th April 2024.

The content of this article, blog or video is not intended as specific legal advice. For tailored assistance, please contact a member of our team.