What's Next for this Year's Law Graduates?
The way the world is now, probably isn’t how you envisaged it to be once you’ve graduated with your law degree. Perhaps, with the pandemic tipping the world upside down and the general unease about the economy, you might be thinking twice about a career in law. Are there jobs out there? Are firms taking on trainees? Will you miss your chance? In this blog, I look at the prospects and best next steps for this year’s law graduates.
See the positives
Where there are hard times, there are better days. And what’s important to remember for law graduates is that this is actually quite an exciting time to be entering the legal profession. Particular legal practice areas have been very busy throughout the pandemic. The pandemic has also forced firms to change the way they work, in most cases to be more flexible and to adapt to new technologies. And this is great news for the solicitors of tomorrow. Why? Because these changes will filter down to greater opportunities within firms.
We will see the traditional hierarchies which have existed in law firms, start to ease. And, as technology is more widely used, you will be able to showcase your ability to find creative, entrepreneurial solutions to building relationships and attracting new clients. The legal workplace is not the same as it was, so be prepared for that.
Pick a route
When you first applied for your law degree, your immediate thoughts were more than likely geared towards either the Solicitor or Barrister route. You might have thought about pursing a career as a Legal Executive or Paralegal, or even moving on to another role in a sector such as Business where you can put the skills you have learned to as much good use.
What is important to do, and you will likely have done this by now, is to understand which working environment would suit you best further on in your career. Do you see yourself amongst a small team, or do you prefer to be part of a larger one? Solicitors in law firms work within teams, albeit in today’s world these teams work remotely. Barristers however, while they work closely with solicitors, have a much more independent role. The vast majority of barristers in this country are self-employed, which is worth considering.
The all-important work experience
If pursuing a career as a legal professional is what you really want to do, it is good to have secured some work experience. This not only just ‘looks good’ on a CV, but it helps to give you that extra insight into whether the path you have chosen is the right one for you. It is also a must-have for any training contract application.
I know what you’re thinking, work of any kind is hard to find right now. But bear in mind that work experience doesn’t always have to involve working at a law firm. The qualities, skills and experience which impress law firms include those which showcase how entrepreneurial you can be. If you run your own small business while studying, you can gain experience in all manner of business skills from finance to marketing, and sales. If you set up a charity group or work with one, helping the community in these tough times, you can prove your ability to source, co-ordinate, and organise as much as being empathetic.
Document what you have done, have achieved, and the skills you gained, and law firms will appreciate the ‘alternative’ experience as much as time spent within a law firm.
Don’t jump the gun
Although training contracts are few and far between right now, I would advise not to snatch the first offer which comes your way. It really is worth making sure the firm is right for you. We have countless conversations with trainees and NQs who have found this out the hard way. But what can you do to be sure you are making the right decision?
Do your research – there are many tools available to determine whether a firm will be the right fit for you such as the Legal 500, Legal Cheek, The Lawyer etc.
Vacation schemes and open days (virtual ones) are great, but nothing will give you a feel for a law firm quite like a Paralegal or support role. If you are currently looking for a role then, it is worth having a conversation with us, as this is something we can assist with.
Legal recruitment as an alternative
A law degree opens the door to many exciting career opportunities above and beyond a career in law. So, don’t worry if you’re having doubts about that dream of being a lawyer because there are many options available to you beyond the legal profession. Some of these include working in Human Resources, working with Data or Auditing, a career in Finance, the Civil Service or in Mediation. The list goes on. And if you are an ambitious, natural people person, then don’t overlook a career in legal recruitment. I did this after my law degree and haven’t looked back. With an uncapped earning potential in a friendly, collaborative environment, what isn’t to love!
Tom joined us at Interlink having finished his law degree at Newcastle University. Since then, he has helped many Paralegals and Newly Qualified Solicitors with their legal careers. Contact Tom Crea for help with your legal future, or simply to find out more about what positions are available at law firms.