It’s early October and you’ve just started university where you’ll be spending the next 3 years (maybe 4 if you have a year abroad) Does your degree seem like it’ll go on for a long time?
Well, if you’re a new law student looking to end up as a solicitor you need to start your career planning a long time before the end of your three years.
Why? Many law firms will be recruiting trainees two years ahead of their training contracts, so after leaving a year for Legal Practice Course, that takes you to the start of your final year at university.
That still seems like a long time away, but one of the most useful things you can do to help you to secure a training contract is a vacation scheme. Vacation scheme recruitment typically takes place in autumn and spring of second year.
How do you get a training contract? Good grades, skills and commercial awareness all help. As you’ll be applying during your second year, you’ll only have your first year results to prove your academic ability to a firm.
Building your experience
Make use of the events being held at your university, whether that’s a careers event or a fair, start to get a feel for the type of firm you might like to work for. Is it a big global firm, a local practice, or something in between? Are you interested in litigation or criminal law, or prefer deals and finance? The more types of firms you expose yourself too, the more you’ll gain an understanding of what motivates you.
As your first year progresses, make sure you get involved with clubs, societies and other extra-curricular activities. When you come to apply for jobs (and vacation schemes), you’ll need to be able to provide evidence of your abilities such as, being able to work in a team, lead others, and solve problems. You won’t develop those skills simply by studying.
Time management is an important skill for aspiring lawyers to have and there is a balance to be stuck between spending so much time studying that you have a poor CV and spending so much time on extra-curricular that you have poor grades. Find the balance which suits you best – some people like to spend nine to five each day studying and do other things in the evenings and weekends, some people like to save their study for the weekends.
Don’t forget to speak to your university careers consultant if you need some more advice.