I'm an American applying to some MC firms and have some questions....


Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am a final year undergraduate student attending the University of Michigan - Ann Arbor here in the US, and I am applying to some of the Magic Circle firms for a training contract in 2013. I have had several jobs in both finance and the legal industry (specifically, intellectual property patenting), and have a pretty decent grade point average. I have strong extracurricular activities, and I am a Honours student majoring in History and Classical Civilization. I am dead-set on a career in corporate law in my future, and I have heard great things about a lot of the firms in the UK.

HOWEVER, I have not had the experience of a vacation scheme, I was not educated under a British system, and I did not attend Oxford, LSE, Cambridge, or any of the other big UK schools. I like to think that UofM in Michigan over across the pond is a pretty good school, but I have no idea how it compares with schools in the UK or if this is not advantageous toward my application.

At any rate, I have a few questions. First, for a lot of the applications, my scores, classes, and examination results are required. If anyone from abroad (meaning outside of the UK) has applied, how do you handle this? There is obviously a massive conversion issue here, so I don’t know whether to convert my material or to just reference a University transcript instead. Secondly, I am not sure what the difference between CV formatting is for applicants between nations, so I’m worried that my CV might look or contain drastically different material on it then what the firms desire. If anyone has a template that has worked, I would be much obliged.

Lastly, if anyone has any other advice on how to stand out as an international student in the ‘application wasteland’ for these firms, I would be very appreciative. Thanks!


The good news is that law firms over here in the UK - even Magic Circle firms - are particularly keen to expand the range of people/personalities they hire into their firms right now. Gone are the days when only white, middle-class guys from Oxford or Cambrdige universities would only be hired by the top firms - now everyone has a chance.

This means that I should have though the fact you are applying from the US and have attended a US university would have no bearing on your application. Graduate employers in the UK have pretty accurate means of comparing international grades with standard UK grades (for both A Level and degree level) - as long as you have top grades you shouldn’t have a problem.

With regard to your CV - the UK standard for a CV is two pages (I believe the US standard is one page). There is a very good CV explanation on this site - http://www.wikijob.co.uk/wiki/example-cv-resume-template - which will help you create a UK style CV. If you want professional help, this website also offers a CV writing service for less than $100 which may be helpful - you can find this service by clicking on the top level banner at the top of this page).

If I was in your situation applying for roles in the UK, I would call the graduate Human Resources teams at several of the firms you want to apply for, before making your application, and work things through with them. I would have thought that each company will have slightly different processes when it comes to accepting applications from overseas and this level of attention to your applications will no doubt be useful.

I’m one of the founders of WikiJob (this website) and I’m interested to find out how your discovered WikiJob, which is primarily a UK website. How did you come across us? Do American students use WikiJob fairly regularly, or are you an anomaly?!



Thanks for the information! I have emailed their recruitment team with more specific questions, but on second thought I think you’re right - it would behoove me to call their HR department directly. Truth be told, I actually found this site while browsing for another position. I was researching some information on McKinsey & Company’s Business Analyst position at one point and your site is the second Google hit for info on the interview process. Also, anything about training contracts for solicitors, and a lot about the big UK firms in a Google search pulls up this site, which I have found to be extremely useful. Im willing to bet that quite a few people from across the pond are using, or at least referencing, your site.