Mitch Parry, Trainee in the Russell-Cooke Solicitors, real estate, planning and construction team.

An ‘R to E guide’ for Russell-Cooke training contract applications from a third-seat trainee

Mitch Parry, Trainee in the Russell-Cooke Solicitors, real estate, planning and construction team.
Mitch Parry
5 min Read

Third-seat trainee Mitch Parry shares his insightful tips for navigating the Russell-Cooke training application process. Each letter of ‘Russell-Cooke’ serves as a guide, offering valuable advice to help you stand out and successfully embark on your legal career.

The current application cycle for vacation schemes and training contracts is in its final four weeks. Whilst the process may be a daunting, and sometimes demoralising experience, you should take comfort in the fact that every qualified solicitor once embarked on the same gruelling application process.

For those struggling to start, or for the many now adding the final touches to their application to Russell-Cooke, this article aims to provide you with some useful guidance to produce a successful application and receive that elusive training contract offer. I hope these tips are valuable and I wish you the best of luck in your application.

R | Research

A starting point for all applicants. Appreciate what Russell-Cooke specialises in, the culture we uphold and how we attract and maintain clients to ensure that your future career matches your expectations and ambitions. Russell-Cooke is nationally recognised in a number of diverse areas so a genuine curiosity in these various areas of law, whilst not determinative for a successful application, will evidence that you are a good match for the firm.

U | Unique

Our senior associates read hundreds, if not a thousand, of your applications between them every year, so ensure that you make your application stand out. Networking with members of Russell-Cooke will allow you to gain personal insights that are not publically available. The trainees at Russell-Cooke are more than willing to share their experiences with you if you reach out to them.

S | Sell yourself

Do not worry if you do not have legal work experience or have not represented your country at a sport, most applicants won’t be in this position. Instead evidencing how you have effectively worked in a team in your part-time job or communicated successfully with people from different backgrounds whilst volunteering are equally, if not more, impressive experiences to boast. Russell-Cooke can easily teach you the law; it is more difficult for fee-earners to teach you practical skills like how to converse with clients, so explain why Russell-Cooke and its clients should trust in you to handle their legal matters.

S | Story

If I can give you one tip for your application, it would be to tell your own story. What is your motivation for becoming a solicitor? It is unlikely that you knew what a solicitor was at ten years of age so do not pretend that you had your heart set on being one as early as secondary school. Explaining how your life experiences to date have shaped your decisions will ensure you sound authentic and enable you to convey yourself successfully when our training partner, Rebecca Fisher, asks you to elaborate at interview.

E | Expertise

Are you passionate about specialising in an area of the law? If so, explain why this is the case but also let us know that you have an open mind and are willing to try new areas of the law. Ensure that your application appreciates that a seat or newly qualified role may not be available upon qualification in your desired seat so you are easily adaptable. Russell-Cooke has a plethora of training contract seats available so you will be provided with ample opportunity to find your niche and master the skills needed to be a solicitor regardless of where you finish your journey.

L | Locality

Where do you want to work? Are you longing for a career in central London or is the hustle and bustle of the city too overwhelming? You may be unsure where you want to work, and if so, Russell-Cooke’s offices in Holborn, Putney and Kingston-Upon-Thames offer a variety of office cultures for you to explore and choose which is right for you. 

L | Learn

Very few applicants will be successful in obtaining an interview at first attempt, never mind securing a vacation scheme or training contract with Russell-Cooke. It is therefore important that if your application is unsuccessful you request feedback so you can reflect and be successful next time. It is unlikely that you are a bad candidate; instead you may not be the right candidate at that time or maybe you didn’t portray yourself as well as you could have done. It is important not to take rejection to heart. Russell-Cooke will provide invaluable feedback if you reach the interview stage of the application process.

C | Commerciality

Commercial awareness is not necessarily about being an expert in all areas of upcoming technology. Rather it entails appreciating how your client will be affected by recent changes in the law or the wider world and how you will advise them as a result. For example, how would the potential decrease in Inheritance Tax (IHT) impact the taxable estates of Russell-Cooke’s clients or what is the effect of the ever substantial increase to mortgage rates on investment landlords?

O | Organise

Everyone at Russell-Cooke appreciates that we will not be the only firm you apply to. Decide which firms interest you and be selective in which you apply to; prioritising quality over quantity to ensure that you tailor each application to firms that have similar profiles. This will prevent you submitting artificial applications that will likely be unsuccessful. For example, if the deciding factor for you in choosing a firm is the opportunity of an international secondment, Russell-Cooke probably isn’t the firm for you given we are a London firm.

O | Outreach

In the event that you do spend a week with Russell-Cooke on our vacation scheme, I urge you to take the opportunity to speak to as many people in the firm as possible. Working in the office is much more enjoyable when you have something in common with the people you work with, so showing that you are able to communicate with individuals from all levels in the firm illustrates you match the Russell-Cooke’s culture. You also never know who you might meet along the way – someone may even put in a good word for you if you impress them.

K | Keen

During the application process show your willingness to get involved in all areas of work you are involved in, regardless of what they entail and who gives you them. My training contract at Russell-Cooke has taught me that you never know what tasks you will enjoy so having predispositions towards the team you are placed in for the vacation scheme is not advisable. You may even be inspired to explore a niche area of the law you never knew existed.

E | Easy

Your final interview is upon us but do not worry, take it easy and relax (which I know is easier said than done). Partners at Russell-Cooke are human beings and the firm prides itself on its non-hierarchical structure. I remember the three partners in my final interview being interested in why I was suited to Russell-Cooke through a casual chat rather than forensically examining whether I could recite the intricacies of the law to them. The fact you have reached the final interview proves you have the potential to be a trainee so take confidence from this and showcase your attributes one last time.

Applications for the 2026 Russell-Cooke graduate training are open until 16 February 2024

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