Studying law: Part 3

An image of a work experience graphicWork Placement

Lastly, work experience; this is highly significant went studying Law! It is important to secure any kind of legal placements to demonstrate to law firms that you have the skills and experience, and not just an excellent academic record. If you want to become a solicitor, then it is advised to apply to vacation schemes which are usually a two week paid work placement, allowing you to observe the firm that you applied to and receive an understanding of what it is like to work there. Or if you want to become a barrister, you could complete a mini pupillage, shadowing barristers. They are not compulsory but securing any kind of legal work placement could be very helpful in determining whether you want to become a solicitor or barrister. If you feel that you don’t need to apply to any vacation schemes, then after completing your qualifying undergraduate law degree, there is the option of completing the Legal Practice Course (LPC) which is compulsory if you would like to become a solicitor or the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) if you want to become a barrister. The procedure to apply to one, especially to City law firms, are very long and difficult to secure as it is very competitive.

Commercial Awareness

An important aspect that law firms are looking for is commercial awareness; it’s about how extensive your knowledge is about the world of business. So reading the news, especially The Economist or The Financial Times, and discussing recent changes in the commercial world during your work placement interviews, will illustrate to the firm that you are aware of the current affairs and are dedicated to expand your knowledge within that firm.

 A long long process?

An image graphic of the word successUnfortunately, it is a very long process to becoming a solicitor or a barrister. Some find it difficult to find any vacation schemes, training contracts or mini pupillages and therefore, go into different pathways. They feel that after studying, law isn’t for them and they simply cannot see themselves working as a solicitor or barrister because of the competition and the pressure. Others find work first as a paralegal after graduating, and then decide to complete their LPC. This way, when applying to training contracts, they are able to discuss their work as a paralegal in depth and the skills that they gained. The expectations of law firms are very high, so you must work extra hard and give extra effort to ensure that you secure a place after your training contract. Therefore, it is important to write coherently and clearly in your application forms, linking your skills to the ideal person that the law firm is looking for. Be precise when discussing your previous work experience; you can link part-time jobs and discuss how it increased your commercial awareness. Little mistakes have a significant impact, to an extent that your application can even be rejected. It is always important to remember, that there are thousands of students applying to work placement/jobs so ensure that your application is unique; researching the firms history and their previous and current clients they dealing and dealt with always demonstrates in depth research and your dedication to be accepted in that particular law firm.

For now, working hard from day one is critical. Just ensure that law is definitely want you want to study; it is a lot of money and it will take some time to become a solicitor or barrister, but always remember to never give up. Thinking positively will guide you to a more successful path.

This post by Sonja Jounus