Alexandra Simpson will be one of 16 Aspiring Solicitors Advisory Board members mentoring 16 AS members this year- apply to the AS mentoring program by clicking HERE
Having studied languages at UCL, I always wanted to work on an international scale with a London base. At university I realised that communication and negotiation were my strong points, and I loved the thought of doing that on behalf of big business names. Plus, I must admit… the idea of being a lawyer seemed very glamorous to me!
What diversity/inclusion challenges or barriers have you met so far and how have you overcome these barriers?
Being a first-generation undergraduate from a low income background, I was surprised by how many people tried to put a barrier between me and my ambitions, with one person telling me going to university “really is a step up, isn’t it?” and another telling me “you’re just a PR girl”. I tried my best to simply laugh off such comments, but of course they stung my confidence. Eventually, with the encouragement of friends and family and the AS network, I was able to use such attitudes as confirmation that I needed to push the boundaries and an important lesson in who not to become once I was successful!
Do you think having a mentor is important and have you had one in your career?
It’s a very subjective thing. I have had a series of mentors along the way and it’s only now that I would label them as mentors. The first was my GCSE French teacher, who dedicated herself to making me see my academic worth. The second was the coordinator of the International Baccalaureate at my sixth form, who dared me to aim high with my university applications. The third is Chris White, who was an email or phone call throughout my application journey (and remains so).
In my view, someone believing in you and driving you forward can only be a good thing.
What piece of advice would you give to any AS member looking to become a lawyer?
Don’t allow fear of rejection, limited work experience or lack of confidence stop you applying to firms. A strong candidate comes in many different forms, so don’t feel that you have to fit into any mould. If you feel passionately about the law, that will shine through above all else.
In relation to the legal profession, what if anything do you wish you’d known at 17/18?
That even if I didn’t choose Law as my degree subject, I’d be able to become a lawyer. I studied Modern Languages (French and Italian) at UCL, but a few people gave me a hard time about it and told me I wouldn’t be very employable! Be bold enough to choose the degree that interests you, not the degree you think employers will prefer. All degrees lend you transferable skills. In my experience, the more unique your degree, the more interesting a candidate you are.
Do you think diversity in the legal profession is improving and why?
As a future trainee, I don’t think I’m much of an authority on this! But I’d like to think that it is. Just looking at the wealth of backgrounds of the AS members I’ve been in touch with as a Professional Ambassador and the fantastic success that they’ve had, I see that the next generation of lawyers is going to smash through the archaic mould. Ultimately, I think the legal profession is recognising that with greater diversity comes innovation on a global scale.
What message would you like to give AS members?
For me, the hardest part of the application process was being rejected, especially when I’d put in lots of effort with an application. The journey to your TC will be a highly emotional one and my advice to you is this: embrace that emotion. Allow yourself to feel saddened by rejection and then translate that sadness into energy and motivation to work even harder on the next application.
What is important to you/makes you happy?
My family and loved ones are the most important thing in my life. I’m happiest when exploring the world. I try to visit a new country each year, but will always have a weakness for Italy, where I spent five months of my Year Abroad. It’s definitely my happy place…
If you could change one thing in the world what would it be?
I would end all cruelty to animals. I have no time for anyone who mistreats any creature, however big or small.