How it started
Hey, I’m Beth; a future trainee at a leading international firm and and previously worked as a researcher at dandi. I wanted to share my story with you about how I got here! My answer to the classic ‘Why Law?’ interview question is the start of my journey into the profession. I studied criminal law at A-level and found it super interesting, which led me to do some work experience at a local barrister’s chambers. That experience, I’m afraid, put me off being a barrister (sorry). I was unsure about pursuing law at the time and chose to do a social sciences degree instead; I loved the content but wasn’t sure it was going to lead to a career for me. So, I started thinking about the solicitor route which was so alien to me even at 20 years old (remember it’s a marathon, not a sprint!).
Breaking into the Law
I had little to no connections in the legal world, I was a first-generation student from state school with a non-law degree but, I managed to land myself a couple of work experience placements in law firms and in-house; this was where I really found my feet. I graduated from University and managed to bag myself a legal administration role at a top regional firm which soon led to a promotion to a paralegal role. It may sound like I have my life together at this point but in this period I started about 20 training contract applications and was so daunted and lacking in confidence that I did not apply for one!
Self-funding and the pandemic
After getting some hands-on experience I decided to start thinking about doing my GDL. Even the idea of this was stressful because of needing to self-fund it. Thankfully, the same year I planned to start my GDL, the University of Law brought out the GDL/MA combined law course and you get a masters loan covering course fees - this was my saving grace. Skipping ahead to the end of my GDL, the pandemic had peaked and many firms were putting employees on furlough and hardly any were hiring for paralegals.
Networking, resources and changing my approach
I turned my attention quickly to vacation schemes applications. I made a full list of firms I wanted to apply to over the summer so that when application season started I was ready to go. This time I completely changed my approach, not only would I research a firm but I would attend open days with the firm, network as much as possible and ask people questions on LinkedIn. I utilised workshops and application know-how sessions, watched legal YouTube videos and read blogs. Previously, my applications had never got past first stage, but this year pretty much all of them did. That is not to say it was plain sailing from there, I failed a few Watson Glaser’s along the way and fell off at interview stage for others. But I went on to do a few vacation schemes, all of which thankfully led to training contract offers.
Not easy, but achievable
Part of my anxiety about the legal profession before I got to grips with it was that I didn’t know anyone like myself who had done what I wanted to do. This is why I am so passionate about helping others, who are in the same position I was only last year. And to show you that if I can do it, so can you.