“I can see that you are feeling very anxious about your future but I would like to assure you that obtaining a training contract/vacation schemes are possible with your position.
Firstly, in relation to your academic results, do you have any mitigating circumstances that deterred you from gaining at least 2.1? If so, write it in your application. Firms are keen to recruit talented people and they understand that we cannot always do our best. They will take your situation into consideration.
In relation to things you could do for legal experience, there are many options available. It is important that you take a proactive approach and create opportunities yourself.
These could include:
1. local solicitors: when I tried this method, I looked up on their website, and saw their practice areas. If there was an area that I was interested in, then I contacted a person who I thought had a similar interest/background by email and let myself known and asked for their time for a coffee to hear more about their experience. Alternatively, you can visit the firm yourself, with a CV at hand, and ask for a work experience.
2. Courts: I went to my local County Court and asked if I could conduct work experience. It was a good place to learn how the legal proceedings happen, and during it, it could be a good opportunity for you to bump into some local solicitors, who could make contacts with – you never know what kind of work experience schemes they may be running.
3. Mentoring: obviously you have already taken a proactive approach in taking advantage of the AS platform and you have contacted me. There are more ways you can know people, and create opportunities. Do you have LinkedIn? Through this website, you can find your university alumni, and often they are more than happy to be contacted for advice. My brother for example, he was interested in gaining work experience with Big 4 Accounting firms. He contacted one of the alumnis, he met up with them for coffee, and continued email exchange and asked for advice. After building a portfolio with his alumni, he was offered an informal work experience within the accounting firm. My university also ran Alumni Mentoring programmes – check if your university has a similar scheme?
4. University societies: make sure you get involved in your university law society. If there are workshops/ networking events etc, make sure you attend them. Not only is it a good opportunity to get to know more about the legal world, but it is a great place to meet people and build your contacts. Also, even if it is not law related, if you have a specific interest and there is a society, be proactive about it and perhaps take a position of responsibility. Law firms do not recruit clones of one another – they like to pick people who are unique and have diverse range of interests. Position of responsibility is also a great way for you to show that you have done something productive during your university time (besides your academia), and learnt valuable transferable skills. Is there a Legal Advice Clinic at your university? If so, get involved. If not, why not set one up?
5. Individual firm events: I can see that you attend university in Liverpool which means that it is difficult for you to come to events in London. However, law firms run events at the london offices (check individual websites), which only requires registering. If you can, go to these events please do so. You will be able to see for yourself what working in a city law firm is like.
6. Open days: open days are application based, and it is a great way to expand on your commercial awareness. They often include activities such as negotiation skills, case studies, networking etc. Remember, this counts as work experience as for city law firms, you can these places by applying for it.
7. Commercial work experience: although this does not sound legal, it will help towards your legal career, if you are looking to be a commercial solicitor. It will improve your commercial awareness and, especially if it was in an office environment, you will be able to say why you are suited to the lifestyle of a commercial solicitor.
8. ANY kind of work experience: remember, even if you worked as a part-time checkout assistant, there are transferable skills that you would have picked up. For example, if you worked in a supermarket, you noticed the sales of the different items during certain seasons so you tried to act in a certain way maximise profit. Or, you have taken a proactive approach to improve your communication skills etc.
9. Reading the news: any news (Financial Times, The Economist, The Times, Daily Telegraph, Independent etc) will encourage you to think commercially and will help you to understand why certain things happen. Even better, if there is a news about a certain business acting in a certain way, think for yourself as to why it would be acting in that way. For example, during my application, I remember that HMV had gone into administration. When I read that story, I thought about why HMV had failed, what it could have done to prevent it etc. Afterwards, I researched in the HMV’s history, what their business strategy was etc. Thinking about it first by yourself helps you to think analytically, and if you are invited for an interview at city law firms, it will help you to think on your feet when a commercial question is asked.
There are obviously not exhaustive list of things you could do. These are the methods that I have personally used. As you may have gathered from my profile on AS website, I do not know anyone in the legal world, let alone in the professional world. It was always up to me to create opportunities for myself – no-one urged me to do any of the things that I have listed above.”
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