Rebecca Dilks graduated from Philosophy and Politics at the University of Leeds in 2014 and is nearing completion of her training contract with Gateley Plc. In this post she shares her experiences of pursuing law from a non-law undergraduate degree and her tips for other students seeking training contracts.
As any law student will know Training Contracts are like gold dust. A privileged few will be lucky enough to secure the dream of a training contract during their academic studies but for a non-law student this is not always possible as you may decide to embark on a career in law later or you may not be aware of the urgency of applying!
I studied a degree in Philosophy and Politics at the University of Leeds and graduated in 2014. I had decided that I wanted to be a lawyer after 2 weeks spent working at the Sheffield Combined Courts when I was 16 but had studied Philosophy and Politics to gain different experiences and develop broader skills beyond law. Continue reading
With the Leeds Law Fair just around the corner, we thought this was a good time to publish this post; a summary of some of the insights shared at the University of Law‘s event in Leeds ‘Preparing students for a successful legal career’ earlier this year. At the event, four speakers shared their insights on the industry and how it is vital for students to prepare for a successful legal career early on in their studies.
Generally, all speakers agreed that a strong academic CV, work experience and networking were key factors law firms look for when recruiting potential employees. Problem solvers, team players and those who could hit the ground running are also desirable as well as someone with commercial awareness and a passion for Law.
Strong Academic CV/ Work Experience
A strong academic CV is desirable and work experience is vital, it is advised to gain as much as you can even if it is volunteering or Pro Bono work. It was also mentioned that non law-related roles such as managing a bar could provide a great example of leadership. If you don’t succeed straight away in securing a training contract consider Paralegal work to build up experience and a network of contacts. An interesting 52% of vacancies likely to be filled by graduates who have already worked for employer Source: University of Law University of Law
How to achieve this:
- Start to build up your CV, gain work experience and join extracurricular activities
- Check out the Careers Centre vacancy site for vacation schemes and mini-pupillages
- Make speculative enquiries with firms. Check out our advice on speculative enquiries for tips on how to do this successfully. You can search for firms by location and practice area on The Law Society website
- Join the University Law Society to help build your legal skills such as debating, negotiating and mooting. University of Leeds Law Society and follow on Twitter @LeedsLawSoc. Partners include Slaughter and May, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and many more! For information on their training contracts, vacation schemes and open days visit University of Leeds Law Society Partners
- If you aren’t currently studying Law, you should considering joining the Law 4 Non Law Society
- AllAboutLaw is a great resource for anyone considering a Legal career, regardless of what stage you are at currently
- LawCareers.Net also has some great resources
- Visit the Career Centre drop in for a chat about your career planning; http://careerweb.leeds.ac.uk/appointments to view and book appointments
- We also have a range of take-away resources available in the Careers Centre, including Legal Directories, Training Contract & Pupillages Handbooks, and a range of other literature on Legal careers.
Networking is vital; it can really help to have connections when securing work experience or permanent positions. It was recommended by the speakers for students to go to Law Fairs and talk to employers face to face to establish links, also to attend any events hosted by employers to get to know them directly. One speaker noted that employers do look for people who they would be able to put in front of their clients, therefore establishing contacts face to face is key.
- Attend as many Careers Fairs/Events as you can and engage directly with Law Firms
- The Law Fair, Wednesday 4th November, Parkinson Court, University of Leeds 11am – 2:30pm
- Norton Rose Fulbright are running a “Prepare for the Fair” workshop on Tuesday 3rd Novmber
- Keep up to date with Career Centre Events Events. Run an advanced search using keyword ‘law’ to find law-specific events
- Be social media savvy – Set up a professional profile on LinkedIn and beware of how you’re using social media generally. You don’t want an ill-advised or throwaway post or comment to come back to haunt you in the future
- Follow Companies you are interested in engaging with on Twitter or other social platforms. For example, Leeds firm Blacks are very active on Twitter @LawBlacks
- Take a look at the Leeds Network, you can contact University of Leeds Alumni working in a particular job or organisation Leeds Network
- Check out the Careers Centre website hints and tips section on networking Networking tips
Take a look at the Legal Careers resources on our website for useful sources of information and advice and remember, you can talk to us for individual advice and guidance.