7 Things You Didn’t Know About Becoming a Lawyer

| Career Insights

7 Things You Didn’t Know About Becoming a Lawyer

1. Law School Does Not Teach You How To Practice Law Per Se…

This may come as a surprise to many aspiring lawyers, and it is of course true that studying legal subjects gives you an excellent knowledge base and understanding of legal concepts, as well as the ability to ‘think like a lawyer.’ However, no amount of studying can fully prepare you for life as a practicing lawyer. You may be able to recall thousands of cases and write excellent academic essays on the intricacies of niche aspects of the law, but fundamentally, being a successful lawyer also requires soft skills such as people skills which you can only develop through life experience. Soft skills are invaluable on your career journey to becoming a lawyer as this is a job where you deal with people every day, whether colleagues or clients, you must be able to perceive someone’s needs, have a degree of empathy and be an excellent communicator. Once you have soft skills, you are well on your way to becoming a great lawyer!

2. Pro Bono Work And Volunteering Are More Helpful Than You Might Think!

Following on from the first point, pro bono work and volunteering are an excellent way to gain useful skills that are not taught in law school. In addition to building essential soft skills, this kind of experience can offer you different perspectives on the legal system as to how the law is applied in practice and will certainly impress prospective employers. It cannot be overstated how important pro bono work and volunteering can be on your journey to becoming a lawyer – you can develop advocacy skills, establish networks in the legal world and explore areas of law you haven’t studied in law school.

3. Grades Aren’t Everything!

A good academic record can significantly help when applying for training contracts, especially at the larger and more prestigious law firms of the UK. However, legal trainees say that once you are past this point, your performance in the workplace is much more crucial to progression i.e., you can do your work to a high standard and meet deadlines consistently. If you are someone that is worrying about your academic record being average and are concerned about how this will affect getting a training contract, don’t worry! It is without a doubt possible to secure a training contract with average grades. As I have already mentioned, work experience in law firms, pro bono work and volunteering are essential to gaining legal skills as well as soft skills which can greatly improve your CV and therefore your chances of securing a training contract.

4. Life As a Lawyer Can Differ Greatly Depending On The Firm…

It may seem obvious, but people do assume a lawyer does the same job wherever they work. Firms offer very varied work styles and company culture can also vary greatly. How do sense if a firm is right for you? Gauge the company culture before you accept a job; what they expect from you, the relationship between hierarchies within the firm and work-life balance. It may take a bit of moving around before you find a firm that you click with!

5. Pressure And Stress Levels!

Lawyers quite literally change their clients’ lives every day. In return for what can be a very rewarding job, there is a lot of pressure from clients and co-workers to meet deadlines and deliver results quickly. You may have to do extra hours or work from home to meet deadlines and targets. With this comes a lot of pressure and stress so be fairly confident in your abilities to de-stress and relax before you even consider becoming a lawyer!

6. It’s Not As Competitive As You Think!

Whether you are seeking promotion from trainee to associate, getting a training contract, working with your peers on the LPC or DPLP, you may think things will get pretty heated and competitive. From watching TV shows like ‘Suits,’ it may seem like career progression in law involves stepping on others and competing with your new-found work friends or study buddies. But it’s not as cutthroat as this! Not everyone is competing for the same job or TC and trainees have said that the atmosphere in a law firm is a lot more chilled out than they first thought. Becoming a lawyer is not an easy ride but you will certainly have the support of others if you give the same back, whether that is in law school or in a law firm.

7. Rejection Is Inevitable.

As a young aspiring lawyer, it is highly likely you will face rejection. Through this you must persevere, be prepared to learn and be extremely resilient! Not everyone can enter the legal world with a decorated CV, an outstanding personality and straight ‘A’s but be sure you will find the firm or path which is right for you. Remember – rejection is redirection and hard work will be rewarded!

By Zoe Morrison



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