5 things I wish I could tell myself as a law student
Are you a law student? I was in your shoes 10 years ago. I am now a Solicitor in the Wills & Probate Team and here are some things I wish I knew back then…
1. You will not become a lawyer overnight
Becoming a solicitor takes time, and you need to prepare yourself for this. There are various different routes to law and even the ‘traditional’ route takes a number of years – a 3 year law degree, a 1 year Legal Practice Course (LPC) and a 2year training contract. This means it could be at least 6 years before you qualify. This doesn’t take into account the possibility of doing a 4 year degree with a placement year, the LPC part-time over 2 years, or working as a paralegal before securing a training contact. Stay committed and do not become disheartened if you’re not accepted for the first training contract you apply for!
2. Be open-minded about the area of practice
You might start your training contract thinking you know the exact area of law that you wish to qualify for; I know I did! However, this can soon change when you experience a particular area of law first-hand. I initially wanted to work in the Family department after being a Paralegal in the Care team for 2 years, but I am now happily working for the Wills & Probate team here at Wolferstans. Throughout your training contract, you will realise that learning law and working in law are very different. Your training contact (and work experience)is an amazing opportunity to experience different areas of law; you will never get that chance again, so make the most of it!
3. Get as much work experience as you can
When you’re at university, you have an extremely long summer which you should consider putting to good use. At the start of the year, try to secure work experience for the summer. Work experience is the perfect chance to find out what area of law you may be interested in as well as experiencing different types of law firms. If you can, apply for work experience at different types of law firms, so you get a well-rounded experience of how different firms work. Ensure you use your work experience to create contacts within a firm as it’s possible that this could be useful in the future when applying for training contracts.
Visit our work experience page if you’d like to see what opportunities we have available.
4. Research the type of firm you want to work for
There are various types of law firms, and you need to research which firm you believe will suit you; this could range from a magic circle firm to a local high street firm, as all firms will work differently and take different approaches to recruitment. A larger law firm often recruits trainee solicitors at least 2years in advance, so be prepared to start looking for a training contract in your second year of university if a large international, or even national, firm appeals to you.
5. Every day is different
Being a lawyer does not involve sitting at a desk nine to five. In fact, it can be quite the opposite! Should you work in a contentious area of law, you could find yourself in court most days. Alternatively, if you qualify in a non-contentious area, your days will consist of numerous client meetings, whether these are in the office, virtually or at a client’s home. Each case you deal with will be different, which means no two days as a lawyer will ever be the same!
Those are my tips; I hope this helps! If you would like to find out more about working for Wolferstans, please visit our work experience or training opportunities for more information. Or follow us on social media @Wolferstans where you can also find more tips from our team.