Experience and research
Now we have looked at what to expect when studying the law or pursuing a career in law, and also the subject of grades and progression techniques it is important to know just how to mix these together to further enhance your chances. It may work differently for everyone but overall the rule with law is to be confident and to make contacts and have experience.
So, where – or how – to begin? Straight away would be the best answer, read into various law firms, what they do and how well they do it. Research different areas of law including what it’s like when you are doing it day in, day out. As I said in day 2 [Journey woes – day 2], your choices will change throughout your course and throughout your journey so remain open minded and continuously research. After all, if you know what each area involves and the everyday lifestyle of doing particular areas it will help you to decide what it is you want to do the most. More importantly, it is a definite mistake to go into anything with closed eyes and no information. To sum up; research is important, perhaps to every career and every aspiration people wish to do.
What’s next then? Once your research stage has been undertaken, the next thing to do is actually get a first hand experience as to what you are researching. Makes sense, doesn’t it? So what do you do? Or how do you do it? There isn’t a guaranteed method to this part of the preparation, unfortunately. Again it does depend on the individual themselves as confidence plays a huge part in experience. There are many ways to getting in touch with law firms and gaining some experience. Ringing around and inquiring about anything available – even unpaid work experience or shadowing will help. Emails are also an effective way of getting work experience, perhaps doing both of these can help enhance your chances of getting some experience. Make sure your emails are well presented, well written and most of all appealing to those they are addressed to. Another way, which arguably is the most effective way, is to visit various places and talk to people. Make contacts and inquire in person, this shows you’re willing and ambitious – but most of all it shows off your confidence and ability to comfortably talk to people to establish a relationship.
Where do you get experience? Anywhere would be a suitable answer. Start small, work up if you need to. The Citizens advice bureau offer unpaid volunteering, or a charitable role of unpaid assistance pretty much works the same way. To show you are willing to help others at no expense will show you are willing to help others which looks great on your C.V. Courts are a good place to get involved in, it can be even the smallest of roles but most will at some point offer some students roles within the court building. Law firms offer apprenticeships, work experience, work shadows, secretarial roles and a few other minor roles which also stand out when applying for the bigger jobs. In other words, it all helps it just depends on how you go about it and where you go for it. Keep your eyes peeled and your ears open – even the smallest of experience can go a long way.
How do I know this? As it says in the `about me` page I have previously worked for a law firm in London for one week after much talking and questioning. After that I shadowed a solicitor advocate in Kingston crown court and was involved in a case which lasted around two weeks. This lead to an invite to a charity law night with many, many legal figures attending and many contacts to talk to. This helped gain more of an insight and a wider understanding as to the life of a legal worker. Accountants and other such professionals were there too. This has even lead to a few other invites and possibilities and has created a good connection with a few people already working in the legal profession. I also was offered a place of unpaid work at the local citizens advice bureau but unfortunately had to decline due to other pressing issues at the time. What started all of this then? Funnily enough, I had attended a law quiz in my first year of uni and ended up winning with the prize being the first weeks work experience! Not to mention this also helped my personal profile and it was definitely a surprise. Like I said, even the seemingly smallest of things can help in the long run.
There we have it, keep searching and take the chances – you never know how well it will work in the future. The smallest even can set a chain reaction which will help a lot.