Turning the Tables… In Your Favour

| Career Insights

You are standing in the great hall of your university. Everywhere around you erupt sounds of cheering and indecipherable chattering. Everyone is dressed in dark robes and mortarboards, a common picture at a graduation ceremony. In your hand you hold your law degree, a treasure finally attained after three years of toil. But as you straighten your clothes and look for your friends to spend the last few moments of university with them, you feel a sense of foreboding that comes from the knowledge that you have yet to clinch a Training Contract (TC).

Turning the Tables… In Your FavourYou are standing in the great hall of your university. Everywhere around you erupt sounds of cheering and indecipherable chattering. Everyone is dressed in dark robes and mortar boards, a common picture at a graduation ceremony. In your hand you hold your law degree, a treasure finally attained after three years of toil. But as you straighten your clothes and look for your friends to spend the last few moments of university with them, you feel a sense of foreboding that comes from the knowledge that you have yet to clinch a Training Contract (TC).

Is that a reason for despair? Not exactly. The world is your oyster and in it are many various opportunities and avenues that will enhance your knowledge, broaden your horizons, and help you to develop professionally and personally. Here are three useful alternatives to utilising your time productively while you look for a TC and how to become a solicitor.

  • Pro Bono

Pro Bono is Latin that means ‘for the public good’. Pro Bono activities refer to voluntary work that provides financially poorer people who cannot afford legal services with an avenue to access the law. A recent survey indicated that 80% of HR specialists at a group of leading law firms were most impressed by CVs which showed evidence of pro bono work. [1] This ranks pro bono higher than additional qualifications and paralegal experience.

Pro bono work hones legal writing/drafting, interviewing, legal research, teamwork and inter-personal skills such as leadership. For example, Streetlaw programmes help to develop communication and presentation skills, which are invaluable in a working environment. This helps you to stand out from the crowd. It is only through experiential learning can one fully utilise and develop these bespoke legal skills. 

  • Paralegal work

 Alternatively, you can work as a paralegal whilst continuing to apply for TCs. In fact, paralegal work counts as part of Qualifying Work Experience (QWE) which can allow you to qualify for the new Solicitor’s Qualifying Examination (SQE). [2]

A 'paralegal' is an individual who is trained and educated in performing certain legal tasks, but who is not a solicitor, barrister, chartered legal executive, licenced conveyancer or notary. Paralegals work primarily for solicitors or barristers, and can be in various fields of law ranging from property law to commercial law. With the huge growth in the number of paralegals employed nowadays this means that complex work is delegated to paralegals and many run their own files and have their own clients, and some even run departments. [3] It is definitely a good route to start your legal career if you have not yet obtained a TC and in turn you will obtain invaluable legal experience which you can utilise when you become a solicitor. 

  • Travel and Reflect

While this requires financial stability and time, the option of travelling is always something that should not be precluded. Once you become a fully-fledged working adult, holidays are much harder to come by. Taking a gap year gives you the opportunity to make the most of your time away from the realities of life. Especially if you spend it travelling – getting the chance to travel so extensively for such a long period of time will be much harder to come by in the future. A gap year has the potential to teach you much more valuable life lessons than sitting in a classroom ever could.

However, as aforementioned, make sure you are financially secure to support yourself during the duration spent travelling. Also, taking a year out could result in you missing out on an early start in your career. Therefore, if you are considering this option in order to fulfil your “world tour” bucket list, do not hesitate to ask for advice from university advisories, career advisories, parents, and friends. Do proper research to be well-informed of the advantages and disadvantages of taking time off to travel whilst trying to land a TC.

  • Self-reflection and awareness of your skills

Carefully analyse which skills you possess and the skills which you can prove you possess. This distinction is vital for a Law Firm to consider you as a viable and rounded candidate. Objectively reviewing your skills will allow you to refine the roles you apply for and it will provide you with the confidence to acknowledge where you are less developed.

 

The Legists Content Team

By Nickolaus Ng

Footnotes:

[1] https://www.lawcareers.net/Explore/Features/03112020-A-law-students-guide-to-pro-bono

[2] An alternative to the LPC that has a criterion of qualifying work experience of two years at up to four different organisations.

[3] https://www.lawcareers.net/MoreLaw/Paralegals

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