Since having the opportunity to go to a range of events with trainee solicitors, associates and training hopefuls we’ve been able to get a unique insight into what it’s like to learn about the Law and to qualify. As there was so much advice given at so many different events, we wanted to some of it together so that you can share in it!
Firstly, University… what should you be doing?
There are so many lessons learnt about University and how to be a student, and not one of our speakers said what was expected!
In University you’re often taught that you’re only a strong contender if you do a vac scheme, get a training contract and qualify straight out of University. That’s not what we heard doing recruitment.
You shouldn’t worry about following the crowds and should just focus on doing what’s right for you, when we spoke to Callum Reed (Knowledge Management Assistant) it didn’t bother him personally but it was always there at the back of his mind about whether he should be doing more? Reflecting back he says he did the right thing, he focused on what was important to him at the time, came out and followed another path which has made him a much stronger candidate now than would have been in the second year of university. A year and a half in practice has allowed him to figure out what his motivations are and where he wants to go. He feels you shouldn’t worry about it all so early on and doing what’s right for you and your path and hopefully end up where want to be.
When we spoke to Kate Keenan (Associate) she had a different story to tell but the same principle! She was different in that she came straight out of Uni and into a Training Contract – the more “usual” way that you’re taught in University. But she still struggled, she qualified at the time of the credit crunch and was told by the “crowds” (recruiters in this case) that she shouldn’t bother with Family Law because it’s not going to happen. But she didn’t worry, and she didn’t listen and now she’s an Associate in Family Law.
What about electives?
We consistently have people asking what electives they should choose so that they can please their future employers. But that’s not really what recruiters are looking for. Callum Reed suggests to not to be fearful about focusing on ones you’re just interested in. Do what interests you, he did gender sexuality and law and learnt a lot of valuable insight into something different which may not be anything to do with commercial law – but it shows that he did something that he engaged with and did for the passion of law rather than just because of having commercial.
Do something you’re interested in, if it isn’t what you think you’ll end up in it’s not the end of the world. Don’t worry about taking every single thing unless it is something that generally interests you.
When we spoke to Yasmine Roff (Second year Trainee) in Birmingham she said much the same thing, she came into the Training Contract pretty much knowing what she wanted to do but since she’s started she’s actually enjoyed it all! There were seats that she wasn’t expecting to like and now she’s even considering qualifying somewhere completely different to her original expectations. There are four seats in a training contract and she’s been in the situation now where she’s enjoyed them all even thought she wasn’t expecting to.
Talking to Max Johnston (Second year Trainee) he completely agreed, he said you should get involved in anything you can. You never know where you can start to learn the softer skills you need to be a lawyer. Callum Reed mentions that whilst you’re still a student you should get involved in the extra curriculars, the law society, attending events which are always well run and a great connection to law firms. Going to events is an excellent way to get a better insight into the firm that online, you can get a feel for who’s there, what they’re like, are down to earth, are they people you could see yourself working with? Do some volunteering work and develop organisational skills, collaborative environment working towards one objective. Something a bit different to the normal day to day!
You should always do what you enjoy, talking to Molly Vandervell (Second year Trainee) she’s spoken about how it’s all about you, that a good firm isn’t looking for another number but for someone with a passion and it’s up to you how you show that.
It’s easy to get involved with groups once you’re somewhere, for example Molly is part of the Netball group at Geldards and thinks it’s great, you get the chance to really get to know a variety of people at different levels – but she wouldn’t have done it if she didn’t have the confidence to do what interested her – take this time in University to learn that!
Ultimately the most important thing is to enjoy, Law is difficult, so find somewhere that makes you happy, that makes you want to come into work. As Yasmine said in Birmingham – “there may be days when I wake up and think… I don’t want to deal with that bit of work today, but there’s never been a day I’ve thought I don’t want to come in. Work isn’t work, it’s a lifestyle”. Aim for that balanced lifestyle, you’re going to spend so much time in work so find somewhere that makes you happy!
If you’d like to find out more about opportunities for training contracts with us visit our website!