Since the onset of the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006, discrimination on the ground of age is now unlawful, and many law firms have now modified their recruitment practices to ensure that they become an age-neutral process. At Lewis Silkin, for example, we have been keen to ensure that our application forms don’t just focus on what people have achieved at university. Whilst academics are important, we place a great emphasis on competencies such as initiative, teamwork, persuasiveness, communication as well as previous work experience, and evidence of demonstrable interest in the subject matter. We welcome applications from career changers and mature students as we feel their previous experience combined with their heightened commercial awareness can be a great asset to the firm. The fact that over a third of our current trainees had previous careers prior to joining us is testimony to this. My advice therefore is to be selective about the type of firm you’re applying for, and to take your time. Application forms aren’t something that should be rushed or churned out in high volumes. It’s definitely a case of quality rather than quantity here. Identify what it is that attracts you to wanting to work for that particular firm – is it the size, location, type of work offered or its commitment to recruiting a diverse trainee intake for example? In my opinion, the firm’s websites can often be quite telling here. Secondly, once you’ve narrowed down your options, do your homework – research the firm before you apply. This could be anything from having a chat with one of the partners over the phone, to attending one of the firm’s open days/evenings or work experience schemes. Finally, find out what you can do to improve your technique going forward. Get feedback from the firms to which you have previously applied, and ask them specifically what criteria theyre looking for. Armed with this information, you should hopefully be in a position to not only fully apply the skills/experiences you have gained, but to use them to your competitive advantage.