Coping with Rejection

By Laura Wellbelove


Firstly, I just wanted to reassure you that no one is alone in this process. There are thousands of individuals out there in the same boat as you, battling on through the many applications and rejections.

Every law student and/ or graduate will face some sort of rejection at some stage. This is because unfortunately, we have chosen one of the most competitive industries so have our work cut out for us. I would be very surprised to meet anyone who has never been rejected from a law firm before achieving success or that training contract we all dream of.

It is therefore completely natural and human to struggle with rejection. In my opinion, anyone who does not initially feel anger or frustration by receiving a rejection is not normal. I have received over a hundred of legal rejections through the years (training contracts, vacation schemes and legal roles), and whilst I can deal with each new rejection better now, I still feel overwhelmed at first.

So, if you are feeling down or upset after being rejected, remember it’s okay to feel that way. You should not worry about your emotions. What you should be focussing on is how to learn to cope with rejections and progress in moving forward. These are completely key to us all prospering through the vigorous application stages, and to become contempt with our lives. As I will tell you one thing, whilst we all aspire to become the next generation of talented lawyers – our career does not and should not dominate our lives. We should therefore focus on things, which make us happy.


I think that it’s important for us all to create some sort of coping mechanism/ process for when we are dealing with rejection. This is vital for our happiness and to then grow stronger in further upcoming applications and opportunities.

For me, I like to begin by actually taking in the disappointing news. We can all read emails at the speed of lightning these days, but when the information sinks in, that is when it begins to hurt. That is why I think that taking the time to actually understand and process what we have read is important. We need to let the fact we have been rejected by our dream firm sink in.

At this point, we need to take a step back – take some time to ourselves and focus on the positive attributes of our lives to help our frame of mind. Go on a run (this is my first line of defence), read a book or have a laugh with your best friend. By distracting ourselves with happy things we will avoid going into overdrive and all the frustrating statements we say to ourselves; ‘I not good enough’, ‘I am such a failure’, ‘I hate my life’. We have all been there, including me and it is not helpful in the slightest to think this way. Just think to yourself for a moment, yes you will be angry by the rejection but at what point will producing these negative thoughts help you move on and grow to become more positive? By distracting ourselves temporarily, we will be in a better frame of mind to plan and move forward from this rejection. We become how we think. So, if you think positively, you are more likely to have a more positive outlook in life and in the work you complete. This is the next important point I want to touch on.


Before I go onto ways we can move forward from rejection, I wanted to stress something important. One thing I have learned in the years through speaking to people is that every one of us is different – we are all on our own pathways. Whilst some people may have success early on, everyone’s time will come, it may just be when we least expect it. So, whilst it can happen, do not compare yourself to other people’s journeys. Instead, focus on your own and be excited by the steppingstones that your life will provide to you.

Now, back to the good stuff. After you have taken some time to yourself to re-energise and refresh your mind, here are some things you could do. Through your legal network (which I would recommend growing to help you), try to find someone you can count on to read your application to see if they can give you any feedback. This can be the best go-to early on in application stages, as the chances are if you do not make it to an assessment centre – you will never get any feedback from a firm. Asking someone for help will firstly help you to improve in future applications, and secondly, it will most likely make you realise that you have already done a terrific job. The chances are is that there is nothing wrong with your application – firms just receive hundreds of applications, so the odds are against us.

You may also want to pick up some legal/ non-legal volunteering work to help spice up your CV and provide you with new transferable skills you can use in your application. Any work will show your determination to learn new skills and grow as an individual.

Another good thing to do would be to set yourself weekly and monthly goals. Ask yourself, how many applications do you want to complete in a certain time period? Find a realistic number and set some goals. You may wish to spend more time researching firms or attending webinars to give you further insight into law and life as a trainee. Setting these goals will increase your productivity, and it is also very satisfying ticking-off tasks once you have completed them – it gives you a minor sense of achievement.

I hope this has been helpful for you all. If I could add one last thing, it would be to constantly remind yourself of how much you have already achieved. Maybe write down these things as a daily reminder. We all deserve time for ourselves – so reward yourself and relax once in a while. You are all doing a great job. So, stay strong and I promise you, your time will come.


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