To all those aspiring lawyers out there here is some honest advice.
#1 GRADES MATTER
Grades really do matter, law firms have strict requirements starting from A-Levels, so make sure you attain the best grades possible. University grades are the most important, most law firms require a 2.1, some require 2.1’s across the board in your modules, however, they do understand sometimes you can have blips or extenuating circumstances that may prevent you from achieving the best. In this case, call up the graduate recruitment team and talk to them about this, explain your situation and see what they say! I would advise contacting grad rec anyway, just to ask questions and demonstrate interest in the firm.
#2 EXTRACURRICULARS ARE A MUST
Law firms, like universities, like to see extracurriculars as they show a whole-rounded student, who not only studies but excels in other areas. So join the debating society or mooting team, join a sports team. Just utilise your time at university and school wisely, have interests outside of studying. It gives you something to write about on the application forms and your CV’s and it’s also a great way to meet new people and make friends. It shows a bunch of skills law firms like to see, such as teamwork, leadership, initiative, relationship building, communication and motivation.
Volunteering is a great way to boost your CV and gain a bunch of skills. It’s also a way to get legal related experience if you struggle to get a mini-pupillage, vac scheme or legal job. There are plenty of legal related opportunities such as Citizens Advice, the Personal Support Unit, your university law clinic and many more. Do a quick google search and lots will come up!
#5 PARALEGAL YOUR WAY TO A TC
Lots of law firms take on their paralegals to a TC, so your best bet in this current climate in terms of obtaining a TC is to a paralegal. You don’t need the LPC or the BPTC, to be honest, you don’t even need a law degree, just an interest in law and a brief understanding. Send off CV’s to your local high street firms or mid-sized firms, they’re always keen for graduates.
#6 GET COMMERCIALLY AWARE
If you’re interested in a career in law whether at the bar or as a solicitor, you need an understanding of at the bare minimum how a business works and what is going on in the world around you. Read the newspaper, read the BBC site or even Sky News. I prefer The Economist (£12 for 12 weeks!). Just read an article a day on your way to uni or work, just take an interest especially if you intend to work in a commercial law firm!
#7 TAILOR YOUR APPLICATIONS
This is basic and simple. Don’t write another firms name or copy and paste, research a firm and write a well-researched application. I spent a month on one application, excessive I know but the quality of my answers was so much better than those I spent a few days on.
#8 SEND IT OFF EARLY
Don’t wait until the deadline, especially if a firm recruits on a rolling-basis as all the places will be filled way before then and you stand a better chance of obtaining a place.
#9 DON’T GIVE UP
Lots of trainees, and pupils I spoke to sent of 15-20 applications before they received even an interview, don’t be disheartened. There are more applications than places, just pick yourself up and try and try again.
#10 WORK EXPERIENCE
Don’t forget to include even the retail work or bar work you did on your application as they show a variety of skills required to be successful in law such as good with difficult customers and excellent time management. Include even your insight days, open evenings and networking events on your application as they show someone who is dedicated to a career in law and willing to take the steps to achieve it.