Law Career Guide

Application Dos and Don’ts

Whatever role you’re applying for, it’s important that throughout the application you don’t forget your reason for applying.

We’re looking for passionate and ambitious people to join our firm, and we want to know why you want to pursue a career in commercial law. What was the first thing that sparked your interest? Was it a podcast? An article? Or something you saw in a documentary? The application process is all about building a coherent narrative around why you want to be a lawyer, and what you have done to work towards your goal. 

At A&O Shearman, we value all kinds of qualities, experience, and skills, but it’s about how you can communicate all these things that makes all the difference to your application. 


Make sure your application is grammatically correct. Check, check and check again to make sure every comma and capital letter is in the right place. Try to get a friend, family member or one of your School/University Careers Advisors to check it for you as well.

The work experience section of your application will play a big part in getting you through to the next round. Tell a story. There’s no word limit on this section, so use it to your advantage.

Whether it’s heading up a society, working in hospitality, or doing volunteer work – tell us about all of the experiences that have shaped you, and how. Always make the link between what you have learned from those experiences and how it is relevant to a career in law. It shows that you have thought about the transferable skills you have gained and also that you have done your research and understand the role and firm you are applying to.

Demonstrate proactivity and motivation to develop your knowledge of the legal industry. Have you attended firm events or completed shadowing alongside your studies? If so, highlight these efforts. A lot of universities host this sort of activities but if yours doesn’t most law firms will run events at their offices or virtually, mainly during the autumn term – take every opportunity to attend those.


Ignore the skills, responsibilities, and achievements you’ve made, no matter how small. Call them out in your application and link them back to a career in law. We value transferrable skills whether they were learnt in a classroom or out in the real world.

Forget to split your write-up into sub-headings. Keep things organised and that way, you know you’ve ticked everything off. 

Overlook your academic history. Tell us the grade you received for each module of your degree as well as your overall grades. 

Here are some Application top tips from our A&O Shearman colleagues:

Don’t be afraid to read your application out loud a few times. It’s a great way to make sure a reader wouldn’t struggle to follow your answer.

Kuba Roszyk

Get your family and friends to review and provide feedback on the clarity of your answers. You only have a short amount of words to showcase who you are and you want to make sure this comes across as early as possible! Start the form as early as possible so you have time to review and revise your answers.

Saranya Barthe

Get your personality across. Talk about your interests and hobbies with passion to make your application more memorable and present yourself as a more interesting candidate. This can be a regular hobby or interest, but just ensure you’re clear as to why you’re passionate about it. Be concise by focusing on a few well-developed points rather than lots of less detailed points.

Max Brankin