The latest careers news from the Careers Service at The University of Manchester
10 things you need to know about starting a career as a Solicitor or Barrister
It All Starts in 2nd Year Most activity starts in 2nd year of your law degree. So, enjoy your vacation, and then start your research as soon as possible into Semester 1 of Year 2.
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/Barrister? What exactly attracts me to this career?
What sort of work am I drawn to, and why? What clients? Why, specifically?
Think carefully If you can answer question 2 above, please read on to point 4. 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.
Meet Employers Start looking around for all the employers who are on Campus from September/October onwards, wanting to meet you. 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 (and read!) for 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 2nd 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.
Deadlines R Us Deadlines dictate the pace in law applications, and can be as early as mid-October of your 2nd 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 LawCareers.Net.
‘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 Law undergraduates, applications are submitted before July 31 in the vacation between second and third years. Start your research early and combine with Vacation Schemes at the same time.
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 Applications Advice appointments guides and Careerslink will signpost you to additional workshops. The Law School runs drop ins and advice clinics 3 times a week in Semester time (for law students only) so book in.
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, 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 or shoes.
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.