A career in Law is difficult enough as it is without all the barriers that are currently in the way. Lets try and cover a few basic things to consider along the whole journey, and I’ll go into a bit more depth into each area if people would like to hear more of my thoughts.
1. Before you start a law degree, get some work experience.
This one goes without saying. Experience of the job itself is the only thing that will tell you whether it is the career for you. If you’re at school and want to give it a try, why not call your local solicitors and see if you can shadow a solicitor for the day? Not all firms will be able to accomodate work experience, but you won’t know if you don’t make the call.
Another thing to consider is the type of firm to do work experience at. Try and get experience at a range of sizes and areas of law. You’d be surprised at how different each firm of solicitors are, even if they look exactly the same on the outside.
2. If you aren’t sure about law, remember you can do a conversion.
Law firms are always looking for diverse applicants who can show that they are different. Don’t feel tied down to a Law LLB, there are so many other options! Many universities will now offer Law with a language if you have an interest in Spanish/French/German etc. With these degrees you usually get an opportunity to spend a year studying abroad too (added bonus!). If you still aren’t 100% on a law degree, why not choose something else? The GDL (Graduate Diploma in Law) is another option – finish your degree and convert to a Law degree. It might even make you more attractive to a potential employer!
Don’t feel that you have to do a Law degree straight away, there are options available!
3. If you’ve started your degree, keep applying for work experience!
The more experience you can get the better, and it will only serve to guide you down the path that suits you best. Smash those first year modules and apply to vacation schemes wherever you can! (also, if anyone tells you first year doesn’t count – distance yourself from this person. Your training contract applications will be sent off in 2nd year. Guess what set of grades will be the only ones you have to put down…)
4.Don’t give up if you haven’t been offered a training contract. Many people, including myself, started as a paralegal or legal assistant. Find yourself the right firm, who invest in their employees and train them from the start, and you might find, as I did, that you might be promoted internally!
5. Be prepared for long hours, especially in the city.
This goes without saying, but the bigger the firm, the higher the expectations of you will be. You need to be able to deal with vast amounts of pressure and prepared to go the extra mile.
That being said, don’t think working for a small firm means you can take your eye off the ball. If anything, being in a smaller firm can mean you’re even more under the spotlight. If you want to be successful, you have to want it. A career in Law really isn’t the kind of job that you can walk into and expect an easy ride. Whether you’re acting for multi-national companies or clients who live round the corner from you, there is a high standard to be maintained, especially if you want to make a name for yourself in your respective field.
I’ll leave this one here for the time being, but let me know what you think about the above and if you have any questions to ask. One final point to end on though and something to take into consideration when you’re at uni – take the time to enjoy yourself. Socialise, join societies, meet new people and stay in touch with them. Trust me, you’ll miss it when you start your career!