So you’ve completed your law degree and you’re eager to take your first steps in your career. As you’re no doubt aware, graduating with a degree that’s accredited by The Law Society is merely the first rung on the ladder. This needs to be followed by the Legal Practice Course (LPC) and a training contract in order to become fully qualified.
Gaining a training contract
While it’s tempting to take the first placement offered to you for a training contract, there are several things that you should consider. Firstly, law firms vary considerably, both in size and the areas in which they specialise, therefore it’s important to do plenty of research before you commit to one particular firm. During your time at university gain as much work experience as possible, it will not only get you under the noses of the people that matter but will help you to see what kind of law you would prefer to practice. Taking part in debating competitions, or playing a role in the student law society are also good ways to practice your skills, while joining the Junior Lawyers Division will give you access to networking events.
Look for ways to make yourself more attractive to employers
Bear in mind that most law firms are not only looking for top class degree results, but they actively seek candidates with excellent communication skills, both written and oral, a level of commercial awareness, good customer service and problem solving skills, together with an ethical approach and good sense of personal integrity.
The vast majority of law firms will advertise their contract vacancies on their own website, so if you’ve set your heart on a particular firm, keep checking their website for updates. It’s normal practice to make your application two years in advance of starting your training contract and, as securing a training contract can be difficult, you should consider applying for vacation schemes, particularly as these are often used as the first stage in the recruitment process. Make sure that you attend plenty of open days, and see what each firm offers. Some firms are far more forward thinking than others. Once you have secured a trainee position, if an opportunity arises for a secondment, you should always take it. Not only will you gain more experience, but it will help you to create relationships and give you insight into other areas of the profession.
Consider using recruitment companies
Whether you’re seeking a trainee contract or you’re a fully qualified lawyer with several years of experience under your belt, be assured that there are jobs for lawyers out there. One tried and tested way to find a job as a lawyer once you are fully qualified, is to use a recruitment company that specialises in legal recruitment. These companies are often staffed by consultants with a legal qualification themselves, and are able to find positions for not just solicitors, but barristers, paralegals, contract attorneys and contract managers too. Whether you’re looking for a permanent or an interim appointment, you’ll find that they’ll usually have a variety of openings in both private practice, the public sector and in-house positions.
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