What sort of firm do you want to work for? October 30, 2013Posted by Stephen Gurman in : Legal Career , add a comment
As you will have noticed, autumn term is packed full of events on campus, there are a lot of opportunities to hear from and speak with a wide range of firms.
Understandably, many of the firms you will see on campus are the larger “City” firms. These firms have both the resources to send teams out to universities, but also a large number of training contracts on offer. These firms offer excellent opportunities to students, particularly if you’re interested in working on headline making deals or spending some of your training on an international or client secondment.
However, these “City” firms aren’t for everyone and aren’t the only opportunity out there. Just because your peers want to work in the Magic or Silver Circle doesn’t mean that you have to. Perhaps you’re not interested in the areas of law the City firms practice, perhaps you’re looking to work in a smaller team, work outside of London, or simply have a better work life balance. As these firms will tend to have less presence on campus, it’s important that you start researching them for yourself. There are a whole range of firms outside of the City, with a mixture of work from family to corporate to medical negligence.
Resources such as the Training Contract and Pupillage Handbook (the 2014 edition is now available at your careers service) and the Legal 500 http://www.legal500.com/ are a great way to start researching firms in different practice areas and geographic locations.
To get you started, you can see an insight from two different types of firm, Norton Rose Fulbright and Thomas Eggar at http://blogs.ucl.ac.uk/law-careers/2013/10/22/trainee-insight-hannah-truman-norton-rose-fulbright-llp/ and http://blogs.ucl.ac.uk/law-careers/2013/10/29/more-to-law-than-the-magic-circle-thomas-eggar/
Inn Scholarship deadlines approaching October 21, 2013Posted by Stephen Gurman in : Bar Careers , add a comment
For many people, choosing to enrol on the BPTC will involve committing to a substantial amount of fees, which are around £17,500 in London, and living costs.
However, the Inns of Court provide numerous scholarships which can help. Successfully obtaining a scholarship can be an indicator that you might be successful in your search for a pupillage, but do remember that it is by no means a guarantee.
If you’re thinking about applying for a scholarship please remember that this year the deadline is 1st November.
You can only apply to one Inn for scholarship. The Inns do check with each other to make sure that students aren’t trying to circumvent the system.
- If you wish to apply, you will need to obtain references before the closing date – academics are busy, especially as term has just started; give your tutor or employer plenty of time to prepare your reference.
- Use your peers – ask for advice from alumni from your university who went through the process last year.
- Give your application the same time and effort that you would give a job or pupillage application.
- Read the selection criteria carefully. Make sure that your answers demonstrate to the Inn that you fulfil their criteria for scholarship.
- If you’re applying for a means tested scholarship, make sure that you’ve the required financial information ready.
For advice from a barrister who has successfully applied for scholarship see our interview featured in our previous blog: http://www.careers.lon.ac.uk/blog/law/index.php/2012/10/bptc-scholarships-a-few-weeks-left-to-submit-your-application/
Other sources of funding
There are a number of different loan schemes:
Professional Career & Development Loans
This is a loan of up to £10,000 taken out with a commercial bank, but with a difference. The Skills Funding
Agency pays the interest on the loan while you are studying and for one month afterwards. For more information, see https://www.gov.uk/career-development-loans
Inns of Court/HSBC loan
This BPTC loan is a loan available to BPTC students studying full time or part time and can be used to
assist with course fees, living expenses or a combination of the two.
The loan is available to students who meet a number of qualifying criteria, one of which is having made a
scholarship application to one of the four Inns. For full details of this scheme and a list of qualifying
criteria, see http://www.barcouncil.org.uk/becoming-a-barrister/finance-and-funding/funding-and-scholarships/
Investec are offering a loan to students studying the BPTC at BPP, the loan can be up to the value of the
course fees plus 20% extra towards living costs. For details of this scheme please see http://www.investec.co.uk/products-and-services/finance-and-lending/lawloan.html
High street banks
High street banks may be able to provide you with a study loan or an interest free overdraft.
Do not borrow more than you feel you will be able to repay.
This information is not financial advice. You should conduct your own research to ensure you make decisions
appropriate to your own circumstances.
Lincoln’s Inn – http://bit.ly/TvJYKZ
Gray’s Inn – http://bit.ly/R6zjVn
Inner Temple – http://bit.ly/P7GWLS
Middle Temple - http://bit.ly/Q3WQai
An Introduction to Careers at the Bar September 24, 2013Posted by Stephen Gurman in : Bar Careers, Pupillage , 1 comment so far
As it’s the start of a new term, we thought it would be appropriate to share this introduction to careers at the Bar with you, kindly posted by our colleague Jeff Riley.
An idyllic summers day, perfect for a visit for Careers staff organised by The Honourable Society of the Inner Temple – one of London’s four Inns Of Court. The Temple area, which also is the location for Middle Temple, is an astonishing ‘village’ sandwiched between Embankment and Fleet Street. I’ve cycled past it hundreds of times but only recently realised what a wonderful place it is. Inner Temple Hall where the careers event takes place is all wood panelling, oil paintings and Molton Brown soap in the gents. Inner and Middle Temple together with Gray’s Inn and Lincoln’s Inn are a key part of the regulatory system of the Bar. They are involved with recruitment, distribution of scholarships, supervision of ‘pupils’ (the term for trainees).
Lunch – The afternoon starts with a splendid lunch in the inner temple building known as ‘The Treasury’. It used to be the case in the ‘old days’ that the need to attend a number of dinners was all most careers advisers knew about the process of becoming a barrister. Anthony Darsi, our wonderfully suave host, was concerned that we understood that these legendary ‘dinners’ that aspiring students attend were no longer old boy networking but serious career, development and training events as well as ‘collegiate dinners’.
Our lunch, though, was so fabulous it rather made me think that not everything about the old days was bad.
Having said that despite the stained glass windows, the family crests on the wall and the uber-venerableness of the place the Inner Temple really considers itself as the Inn for ‘Commoners’. Over 40% of those gaining pupillages originally went to colleges outside of the Russell Group and 28% were from ethnic minorities. Diversity is a live topic for the profession and the Inner Temple is especially proud of its work experience access scheme called Pegasus http://www.pegasus.me/
Routes to the Bar and the Inns of CourtAfter either a law degree or a postgraduate ‘Graduate Diploma in Law’ (GDL) students have to choose between pursuing a solicitor or barrister career routes. Solicitors have to take a Legal Practice Course (ideally sponsored by a law firm) and aspiring Barristers have to take a Bar Practice Training Course (BPTC). With me so far?
A couple of catches to the BPTC – firstly you also have to take a Bar Course Aptitude Test and secondly they are eye wateringly expensive. We are talking over £10,000. But wait a moment here comes the Inner Temple cavalry with news of their scholarships. These can be up to £20k but lots of students get awarded smaller sums (eg £7k)
The other ameliorating news was that everyone who applies for financial support gets interviewed and at least a third of those who apply get some award.
After completing the BPTC and becoming a member of one of the four Inns of Court students are then ‘Called to the Bar’ by their respective Inns and spend a year as a pupil. Following these ‘pupillages’ and being issued with a practising certificate you are then able to practice as a barrister in England and Wales. Simple eh? Oh, except you need to be offered a ‘tenancy’ with a ‘set’ of Barristers, typically the one you have done your puppilage with. These ‘sets’ or firms are associated with the Inns of Court and much of the Temple area is made up warrens of streets of Barristers Chambers.
Scholarships The Inner Temple is giving away £1.3 million pounds from its scholarship fund in 2012. This includes support for those on the GDL, money for Duke of Edinburgh entrance scholarships, for internships and disability grants but the bulk of it is earmarked for students undertaking the BPTC.
Other inns have their own scholarship funds but you are only allowed to apply to one Inn and if you get an award you are then committed to joining that Inn subsequently. The deadline for applications in 2013 is November 1st.
Now students will be interested to hear how they can maximise their chances of getting an award. And yes, the rarer £20k awards are the top prize. The comparisons with ‘Deal Or No Deal’ ends there because the game show is just dumb luck, nerve, greed and Noel Edmonds while the scholarship process is about
• Intellectual qualities – 50% of awards go to those with 1st class degrees and the rest for those with 2.1s You will find the occasional Barrister with a 2.2 but they will have had a successful career doing something else.
• Motivation – a very high level of determination
• Relationships – An ability to get on with a wide range of people. Barristers previously used to have very little contact with clients but a modern Barrister will be dealing with a wide range of people – those involved with crime or with health issues, people who have been tortured (or even those who are accused of being torturers)
• Character – calmness under fire, long hours, deadlines and integrity. One of the speakers in the day pointed out that Barristers first loyalty is to the Court and if a client tells them they are guilty then the Barrister has to have the integrity to withdraw from the case.
• Impact – you will need to be persuasive, confident and articulate. More bluntly as one speaker put it – can you dominate a court room?
The Scholarships Process – Whether its scholarships, Puppillages or places on the BPTC course (12.5 top quality applicants per place) there is fierce competition. The Inner Temple were frank about this and provided figures about the difficulty of securing pupillages that would give any aspiring Barrister pause for thought
2010 Figures on securing Pupillages
Enrollments in BPTC 1793
Completing BPTC 1432
It occurred to me during the day and afterwards in conversation with colleges that there is a stark difference between law and other professions. There is a reasonably close match between those studying teaching qualifications and jobs in education. Those studying for professional qualification in accountancy are already in employment usually. With law, however, there are education providers out there who are offering legal education with no necessary reference to opportunities to practice professionally. The Bar Council – who have a key representative function for the profession – recently gave a health warning to those considering embarking on the BPTC without substantial scholarships (or a casual attitude to money, I guess). The bottom line here is that if you aren’t suitable for a scholarship you may not be suitable for a pupillage. A forthcoming review of the profession may recommend wholesale changes in this area but for now it really is ‘buyer beware’ as the figures from the Inner Temple illustrated. Incidentally it is also true that those who are good enough to get on and pass the BPTC course will have demonstrated a great set of academic and general skills and they will undoubtedly be in a good position to make careers elsewhere.
Maximising your chances• Be interesting! Lots of applicants have been very focused on securing work experience or ‘mini-pupillages’ as they are known. These are necessary but not sufficient. One speaker cited an applicant who had taken around 20 mini-pupillages but still couldn’t make headway because they came across as too one dimensional. More powerful applicants are those who have done something distinctive. This could be anything from volunteering with an anti-death penalty charity in Texas to running a marathon. Things like looking after an elderly relative or succeeding despite dyslexia can also be relevant sources of evidence of key qualities such as determination. During the interview make sure at the very least you are clear of one thing you have achieved that you are most proud of and why.
• Motivation – why The Bar rather than the solicitor route – and focusing on ‘advocacy’ or client access is no longer enough because Barristers are increasingly able to do this.
• Application Forms – be succinct and use clear headings. The readers will all be practioners and don’t have time for long winded answers but one word answers are no good either. Don’t inflate your expected grades because if you are contradicted by other evidence – including your references then it will be an immediate ‘reject’
• Research – you will be asked about contemporary legal and current affairs. The Inner Temple have free newsletters and blog that can help you track these – so no excuse
• The Case Study – interviews are likely to involve being asked questions about a recent unreported legal decision. You can choose the broad area the case can be drawn from eg criminal law, family law or general civil law and after 30 minutes preparation you will be asked to summarise the following
o What did the case decide
o What were the competing arguments on either side
o What was the court’s main reason for deciding the case in the way that it did.
This kind of exercise isn’t common on law degrees and it can take applicants by surprise and so they are recommended to get some practice in. Those who really make an impact are those that take the opportunity to demonstrate a wider knowledge of law. For example they may be asked whether they thought the Judge’s decision was the right one. A simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer will not suffice but an answer that backs up the yes or no by referring to previous cases and decisions will score much more heavily. By the way if you find yourself being given a good going over in the interview its really good news – it means you are sufficiently good that they are testing to see if you are worth investing a top scholarship in rather than a lower award (known as an ‘exhibition’)
The Changing Landscape
Nicholas Green QC – At one point in the afternoon we had a very interesting talk from the Head of Brick Court Chambers, one of the most successful commercial chambers in history. Nicholas was a Rolls Royce personality – all quiet, powerful velocity.
He pointed out some of the key changes affecting the profession. The cut backs in government funding which makes for limited options in local and national government. The government acting as a monopoly purchaser that is making a priority of driving costs down. What limited work is available is paying less than it was a few years ago – a daily rate of £600. On the other hand liberalisation means commercial chambers and barristers are able to bid for work that was previously the domain of solicitors. He gave the example of bidding for work for all the work generated by a single police station and how the chambers would outsource significant amounts of case analysis work and even witness interviewing to para-legals rather than solicitors. The way the Bar is organised means it is well placed in a tough economic landscape. Over 12,500 of 15,00 Barristers in England and Wales are self employed – a ‘brain on a stick’. In other words very few administrative people in chambers with most members earning money directly but supported by efficient clerks who are dealing with issues such as VAT.
The Bar also has a powerful international reputation. It’s no accident that Russian Oligarchs choose to slug it out in London because it is seen as a level playing field where justice can’t be bought.
• Become a Barrister www.become-a-barrister.com/
The Inner Temple is at www.innertemple.org.uk/
There is also a useful ‘health warning’ produced by the Bar Standards Board at http://www.barstandardsboard.org.uk/media/1363162/final_health_warning
- See more at: http://www.careers.lon.ac.uk/blog/development/
Developing Resilience in Your Job Search August 20, 2013Posted by Stephen Gurman in : Interview , add a comment
With the training contract interview season now under way, some students will unfortunately have to contend with a combination of setbacks, rejections, difficult feedback and lack of replies.
In order to keep your self motivated and focussed on the goal of securing employment , you will need to develop your resilience and the capacity to bounce back. The following report from the American Psychological Association lists a number of ways your can enhance your resilience.
Make connections. Good relationships with close family members, friends or others are important. Accepting help and support from those who care about you and will listen to you strengthens resilience. Some people find that being active in civic groups, faith-based organizations, or other local groups provides social support and can help with reclaiming hope. Assisting others in their time of need also can benefit the helper.
Avoid seeing crises as insurmountable problems. You can’t change the fact that highly stressful events happen, but you can change how you interpret and respond to these events. Try looking beyond the present to how future circumstances may be a little better. Note any subtle ways in which you might already feel somewhat better as you deal with difficult situations.
Accept that change is a part of living. Certain goals may no longer be attainable as a result of adverse situations. Accepting circumstances that cannot be changed can help you focus on circumstances that you can alter.
Move toward your goals. Develop some realistic goals. Do something regularly — even if it seems like a small accomplishment — that enables you to move toward your goals. Instead of focusing on tasks that seem unachievable, ask yourself, “What’s one thing I know I can accomplish today that helps me move in the direction I want to go?”
Take decisive actions. Act on adverse situations as much as you can. Take decisive actions, rather than detaching completely from problems and stresses and wishing they would just go away.
Look for opportunities for self-discovery. People often learn something about themselves and may find that they have grown in some respect as a result of their struggle with loss. Many people who have experienced tragedies and hardship have reported better relationships, greater sense of strength even while feeling vulnerable, increased sense of self-worth, a more developed spirituality and heightened appreciation for life.
Nurture a positive view of yourself. Developing confidence in your ability to solve problems and trusting your instincts helps build resilience.
Keep things in perspective. Even when facing very painful events, try to consider the stressful situation in a broader context and keep a long-term perspective. Avoid blowing the event out of proportion.
Maintain a hopeful outlook. An optimistic outlook enables you to expect that good things will happen in your life. Try visualizing what you want, rather than worrying about what you fear.
Take care of yourself. Pay attention to your own needs and feelings. Engage in activities that you enjoy and find relaxing. Exercise regularly. Taking care of yourself helps to keep your mind and body primed to deal with situations that require resilience.
Additional ways of strengthening resilience may be helpful. For example, some people write about their deepest thoughts and feelings related to trauma or other stressful events in their life. Meditation and spiritual practices help some people build connections and restore hope.
You can use your careers service to build upon the above ideas.
Adapted from our sister blog at http://qmjobsblog.wordpress.com/
Outside of Law , add a comment
Unfortunately, not every student gets the results they were hoping for. Now that the big training contract deadline rush has passed, we take a look at some other options which are available to students who have less than perfect academics.
You may feel that there are no options for you, after all it is hard not to miss the doom and gloom in the media with regards to jobs. The fact is that around 30% of graduates leave with a 2:2 degree and you’ll be pleased to hear that there are still lots of options open to you – your degree still has great value.
So here are 3 options on what to do next. Get ready to take action! You may also wish to revisit on previous blog on what else you can do with a law degree http://www.careers.lon.ac.uk/blog/law/index.php/2012/12/beyond-law-what-else-can-i-do-with-my-degree/
This is one to consider, but be careful in making sure your motivation is right as the course fees can be high. As Careers Consultants, we will often meet graduates with a 2:2 that have suddenly started talking about doing a masters course. The three most common motivations we identify are:
a) A desire to specialise and increase employability.
b) Passion to learn more about the subject.
c) To compensate for poorer grades achieved to date.
Unfortunately the third reason doesn’t usually work. Many graduate recruiters don’t differentiate between a masters and an undergraduate degree. Although there are some who will take a 2:2 plus a relevant postgraduate qualification.
If you want to do a masters, it is essential to make sure your motivation is right.
For one set of opinions (not the opinion of the writer) on taking an LLM, have a look at this article from Lawyer2B http://l2b.thelawyer.com/courses/down-the-drain/1010489.article
Option 2: Apply for a Non-Law Graduate Scheme
Yes, you read that correctly! There are schemes out there that are open to 2:2 degrees. In fact, the latest Graduate Market report from High Fliers Research suggests that 25% of graduate jobs require no more than a 2:2 or certain UCAS points.
Although I can’t do all the work for you, I have found a selection for you to review. Share any others that you have found in the comments below.
New: Government Operational Research Service
PWC Inspired Talent
Mitchells & Butlers Retail Graduate Development programme
Civil Service Fast Stream
London Treasurer’s Graduate Scheme
Procter & Gamble
So from my quick list you can see the diversity of schemes available – from Government to manufacturing, professional services to retail.
Searching the internet should help find many others. Bear in mind that within the same company there may be different entry requirements depending on the role.
Option 3: Consider the alternatives – it is what what the majority of graduates do!
Speaking as someone who has been on the receiving end of hundreds of applications, sometimes you need a quick and easy way to reduce the sheer volume of applications facing you. You can’t physically read them all. In many cases, requiring a 2:1 or above is just a simple way of doing that.
An important factor to be aware of is that typically only about 10% of graduates go into a graduate scheme.
It’s easy to get distracted by the large marketing budgets of graduate schemes. With an estimated 35% going on to do further study, what do the remaining 55% do??
The graduate job market has always been challenging and competition has always been strong. Consider these 3 factors when thinking about what to do next:
If you wanted a specific graduate scheme, why was that?
a) Was it because of the company (if so, search entry level positions in same firm)
b) Was it because of the role (find alternative employers with similar roles)
c) Was it because of the location (refine your job search geographically but broaden criteria).
What can you do in the short term to position yourself better in the future?
Can I do it myself? Many current entrepreneurs have started their businesses with very little money, just a positive attitude and some basic business skills.
A 2:2 is not the end of the world
Alumni with 2:2s from across the University of London have done very well in life. It may seem like it’s a barrier but, by thinking differently, it shouldn’t be a major disadvantage.
DON’T FORGET, whilst graduate schemes will generally be closed to those with degree levels lower than 2:2, it doesn’t mean that the company is. You may just need to work your way up from a lower level. But it’s still very achievable. You need to play to your strengths to compensate for your lower level degree.
Graduates can continue to get careers support from their colleges in the University of London Careers Group by joining Gradclub.
Adapted from a post on the “Develop Your Career Blog” – http://www.careers.lon.ac.uk/blog/library/#sthash.XN2NVDVy.dpuf