Introduction: a career in law
We were recently invited to speak to students at the University of Surrey about a career in law and what a good legal CV looks like. We hadn’t visited the campus before so we were looking forward to talking to the students about a career in law and giving some practical tips for getting a job.
We were keen to say something which the students would actually remember and be able to implement to maximise their chances of getting a job. People applying for legal jobs have so many resources available on the internet (which is a good thing!) but it’s the practical steps that are going to get you a job. We spoke for about 45 minutes but here are the top two practical things we wanted to share:
It’s very easy to think that working hard will lead to you getting a job at a law firm. For example: the person who spends the most hours working on their application will be the one who will be offered an interview.
However, our view is that it’s more beneficial to be smart in the way you work. What does this mean in practice? For us, it means knowing when to take advantage of an opportunity that comes your way.
- Attend high-quality networking events where you will get to meet different people (not just lawyers). You might come across someone who knows a lawyer who is looking to recruit new trainees! Or, maybe that businessman you met is looking for a new intern for his company.
- Always send a follow-up email to people you meet. It’s good to keep in touch with people and you learn something new from everyone you meet.
- Have a good diary system to manage your time. Make sure that you prioritise important tasks and leave enough time for an unexpected change or emergency.
Whether it’s top lawyers, business tycoons or sportsmen, people at the top of their game usually have a good strategy. Having a good strategy doesn’t mean being sly or devious but it means: giving yourself an advantage in uncertain conditions.
A good strategist knows when something is not working and then adapts to find something that will. For example: not good at verbal reasoning tests (even after practising!)? Try applying to firms that don’t require one as part of their recruitment process.
Can’t find a training contract? Try alternative routes into the law. What about becoming a legal executive or working in a company in a non-legal role?
Sometimes the path to success is going to be the road less travelled. Always remember: you will develop transferable skills in any job that you do. Working in a role that you had not initially considered might actually lead to an opportunity you didn’t know existed…!
Always keep one eye on the end goal and adapt to changing circumstances.
Need some more advice about a career in law?
Speak to our career coaches and professional CV writers about a career in law.