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How to Get Ahead in the Legal Game

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Legal, Career Advice, ...

If you take into account the interesting work, the great career prospects, not to mention the lucrative salary, it is no wonder the legal sector is catching the attention of those starting out in their career. But with nearly 19,000 law students beginning their courses last year, all with their eyes set on the prize of a training contract, the competition is fiercer than ever. So, the question on everybody’s minds: "How do I position myself head and shoulders above the rest?"

As a recruiter, I have a unique view on the legal world. Every day I see the kind of skills and experience legal professionals of all levels have to offer. Every day I discuss the requirements law firms are looking for in their new recruits. I think it is important to match the two up, and provide those just starting out in their legal career with some insight. So, how can you position yourself at the front of this crowded legal stage?

Experience 

This is essential when it comes to what firms want. It can’t always be in the form of paid employment, but there are lots of ways to gain an insight into what life is like in a law firm and contextualise your studies. There is the obvious way - vacation schemes. Generally, these require an initial application, followed by an interview or even an assessment centre for the larger firms. The link below provides you with a nice timeline to work towards in order to target the firms you are interested in early on.  

https://www.allaboutlaw.co.uk/law-careers/vacation-scheme/top-tips-for-a-vacation-scheme-application 

But there are other opportunities if you think outside the box. One of the best ways is to simply contact the firm you are interested in and just ask if you can do a week’s placement or shadow the staff. What an excellent display of the proactive, confident and committed mind set so many firms value. The key here is to do your research, find out what the firm is about and who the best point of contact is. I would recommend contacting via email, ensuring the message is personal and relevant to the firm.  

Meeting the right people 

Some of you will be lucky enough to know people already established in their legal career. Don’t be afraid to use these connections, why let an opportunity like that go to waste? But if you don’t, then do not worry! There are plenty of ways to meet new people. I will share a few of these with you briefly for now, and plan to go into further detail in my next blog…

  • Your local Law Society will be the easiest place to start. Follow the link below to see what those in the Cardiff area are up to!

https://www.cardifflaw.org/home.php?page_id=323&_act=true

  • And why not give the Junior Lawyer’s Division a follow on Twitter? With events for a mixture of qualified and non-qualified individuals, they are a great way to keep up to date with the latest legal news and meet people in a more relaxed environment.

https://twitter.com/JLDCandSEWales?lang=en

  • Law fayres are not only a good opportunity to gain information on your top pick of firms, but also a way to get noticed amongst those all-important graduate recruiters, trainees and solicitors. The key here is to be bold, be confident and ask the right questions. The Cardiff University Law Fair is usually held in the autumn term, so keep an ear out!

Extracurricular activities

As a university graduate myself, I can appreciate how overwhelming the first term can be. With societies and sports clubs all wanting you to be their next member, you can be spoilt for choice. This is a great chance to make some tactical decisions in order to add something extra to your skill set and your CV.  The Law Society is an obvious choice – this will provide you with the opportunity to meet those with similar interests to you, who organise events focused on enhancing your employability and legal skills, such as mooting competitions. However, it’s not all work and no play, law students are known for having a pretty active social calendar!   

While joining the law society is a fairly obvious one, there are other additions to your CV that could be invaluable. Sports for instance. For those of you who like to push your body as well as your brain, a competitive sporting environment could harness the goal orientated, resilient mind set fundamental to working in the legal industry. In the past two weeks I have met with law firms, both national and international who have listed involvement in sport as one of the factors they would consider when reviewing CVs.  

 

It always comes down to the individual's motivation and drive, but I hope those three key aspects will make your legal CV shine when you're breaking your way into the sector. On my next blog, I plan to go into more detail on meeting the right people and how to harness the power of networking, so keep your eyes peeled!

 

For further advice on how Yolk Legal can help you shape your career path, get in touch with eandreassen@yolkrecruitment.com or 02921 673747.