After our recent talk with Callum, we wanted to get him back in to find out a bit more about him and how he ended up in Law! For those who don’t know, Callum is currently our Knowledge Management Assistant (alongside some busy hobbies!)
After doing University events it’s interesting to see the pressure put on students to do things in a certain way – so we wanted to find out more about why Callum has taken a different turn!
So, you’ve always wanted to do Law?
I started to take an interest in law when I studied History, English Literature, and Religious Studies at Comprehensive. Law felt like the right combination of what I had enjoyed in those subjects – problem solving, being analytical, and writing. I went onto study Law LLB at University of Exeter. I loved my time there. Not only was it a great place to learn, but I started to learn how the skills I enjoyed, like problem solving, worked in an academic and practical landscape.
At university, that’s where I realised that commercial law was what I wanted a career in. I enjoyed doing an optional module in Company Law because it was an opportunity to see how the law can be used to bring a company into existence and used as a vehicle for a collective goal. From here, I started to realise that I enjoyed the range of factors affecting companies, such as environmental and political pressures. There are always new questions to answer which I knew I wanted to be involved in because I enjoy solving problems.
By the time I realised that a career in commercial law would be right for me, I was behind the bandwagon. Whilst others were applying for vacation schemes and training contracts in their second year, I was more focussed on getting the grades I needed. It was only in my third year that I decided working in commercial law was what I wanted to do.
So… you left, got a TC and had the LPC funded?
I left university without a training contract in hand – as is the ‘traditional’ route. This meant I had to carefully think about my next step as I did not have the LPC funded.
I decided that in order to improve my chances of getting a TC, I would work and study part-time. I didn’t know at first that you could get funding for the LPC if you did it as part of an LLM. I only found this out after some work experience at a law firm where a trainee explained to me it was possible.
So, straight out of university, I went into a paralegal role at a personal injury law firm whilst starting my LPC in September 2018. Now, I obviously work at Geldards as a knowledge management assistant!
Are you glad you decided to take this ‘untraditional’ route?
Definitely. It depends where you go to university, but Exeter was quite demanding in terms of going the “normal route” of doing a vacation scheme, then TC, then doing your LPC full-time before starting your TC. Whilst that works for some, I was more concerned about getting the grades I wanted than worrying about job applications. I did make a few applications, but I didn’t give them the attention or value they deserved.
What studying and working part-time has allowed me to do is build the crucial skills I need to land a coveted TC. For example, when I worked as a paralegal, it was great to learn how to manage and meet client’s expectations and work in a team – both important skills for a trainee. Equally, working as a knowledge management assistant allows me to build my commercial awareness and research skills because I often research on client matters. Recently, I’ve done some data protection research for the commercial team, assisting a client design and manage a mobile application. It was great trying to solve if the client could process data in the manner they wanted to as it was a challenge finding the answer given GDPR’s infancy.
I didn’t have these skills straight out of university – so I’m glad I have spent time building them as I think it makes me a much stronger applicant than I would have been in my second year of university.
Although this route of studying part-time means it might take me longer to qualify, I don’t worry about that because I’ve built up the skills I need to do the job well. Also, the average age of a qualifying solicitor is 29. That’s not something you’re told at university!
What about outside of work?
I’m currently doing the Aspiring Solicitors ‘Commercial Awareness Competition’ which is a competition designed to improve your commercial awareness. The first rounds were basic knowledge like what does a ‘share’ mean, and who is the president of the USA, but as the rounds go on the questions ask more of your understanding about how external events can affect the firm and its clients. I’m looking forward to participating in the semi-final in London! You can read more about it here: https://www.aspiringsolicitors.co.uk/commercial-awareness-competition.
I enjoy my football as well. I play in Geldards 5-a-side team. We were pretty proud to reach the semi-final in a recent tournament – beating a few rival firms along the way!
So what next?
The aim is to finish the LPC in September this year and continue pushing for a training contract. I’m still undecided about what area of commercial law I want to go into, but I hope a training contract will clear that up. What I do know is I want fresh challenges and problems to solve. That will allow me to continue being creative in the problem-solving process which I have enjoyed so much through some of the work I have done here.
If you’re looking for somewhere to challenge you and excite you whilst you embark on a “different” (but much more common these days!) route to the Training Contract have a look at our website to see if we have any positions for you!