- It All Starts in Final Year of your Degree
Start your research as soon as possible into Semester 1 of Final Year. A legal career is open to ALL degree disciplines, and employers are positively encouraging a broader range. Don’t be put off thinking you need a law degree. You usually still need the 2:1, but there are exceptions so come and discuss these with the Careers Team at The Atrium.
- Ask yourself: ‘Why be a lawyer?’
Be honest with yourself and be able to answer these questions very early on:
– Why, specifically, do I want to be a solicitor or Barrister? What, exactly, attracts me to this career?
– What sort of work am I drawn to, and why? What clients? Why, specifically?If you can answer these 2 points, please read on to point 3. If not, then stop right here. Have a really long think about what attracts you to a career in law, and whether you might want to explore other options alongside law options. There is no rush and it is important you make a decision that is right for you. Come and have a chat with a Careers Consultant to chew over your thoughts.
- Be aware of the Timetable to Qualification
Generally speaking, you will need to do a further 2 years of study. First comes the GDL, which is essentially a qualifying Law degree over one year. After that comes the LPC which is the professional course, or the BPTC for Barristers. After this, comes the 2 years ‘on the job’ training, commonly known as a Training Contract (or period of recognised training).
A word about cost – there are no student loans available for either the GDL, BPTC or LPC so funding is either privately funded, or sponsorship through the firm you have a Training Contract with. Time-wise it looks a bit like this:
Semester 1 of final year onwards:
– Research Law firms; attend any Open days with law firms/ organisations. Meet firms on Campus
– Start making applications for work experiences over the Christmas, Spring and Summer vacations (known as Vacation Schemes/Placements)
– Start researching Training Contracts and note all the deadlines for Applications
By July 31 after graduation, you will have:
– submitted all your Training Contract applications and
– be ready for interviews from September
September after graduation: start the GDL and hopefully have a Training Contract in place There are many variables on this and it need not look so rigid, depending on your thoughts on Question 2 above.
- Meet Employers
Start looking around for all the employers who are on Campus from September/October onwards. Make the effort to go and see them, even if you don’t fancy working for them – they are very useful sources of info and a good chance to get some networking practice in.
Attend employability sessions that will give top tips on how to write a CV or application form. All visitors and events can be found listed on Careerslink and look out for (and read!) School emails detailing employer events. The Law Fair held here in Manchester every November and any Open Days at individual law firms are a must-do.
- Work Experience
Start planning some work experience for the vacation time over Christmas, Spring and Summer vacations in your Final year. These are often referred to as Vacation Placements and run for 1-2 weeks. Many employers use these as a gateway to find their Trainee Solicitors, so if you treat the applications as a serious pre-Training Contract step, it will serve you well. Your Careers Team run CV and applications advice appointments throughout the Semester– so book an appointment to discuss any aspect of your applications.
- Non-Legal Work Experience counts
Really, it does. When you consider that lawyers have clients, and those clients tend to be in retail, hospitality, finance, marketing, insurance, sales etc, then if you have had jobs in any of these sectors, it gives you a commercial outlook, an understanding of selling stuff to people who want to buy it, whether that’s beer, coffee, insurance or shoes.
- ‘2 years in advance’ rule for Training Contract Applications
For historical reasons, applications are made for Training Contracts usually 2 years in advance of the start date. This means that for non-law degree undergraduates, applications are submitted before July 31 in the vacation following graduation. Start your research early and combine with Vacation Schemes at the same time. A useful Guide to start you off is the Training Contract and Pupillage Handbook – free copies at the Careers Service at the Atrium.
- Set aside time for applications – they take ages
You need to factor in a lot of time in your schedule for application forms. Seriously, they will take you much longer than you expect and need considerable thinking time before you even start typing. There are numerous support teams in place to help you learn how to apply, including Careers Service Starting Point Guides, Applications Advice appointments and Careerslink will signpost you to additional workshops.
- Deadlines R Us
Deadlines dictate the pace in law applications, and can be as early as mid-October of your Final year, so do act fast if you want to look at larger firms, and some smaller. Remember to start with the application deadlines in your diary and work backwards. A good timeline guide can be found at
- Don’t Panic
If you miss deadlines, then move on and either resolve to re-apply next year, or turn your attention to other ways of gaining work experience. Keep it positive.
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