Life after law college: how to get your first legal job

If you’re a final year law student, you’re no doubt looking forward to basking in the light at the end of that tunnel. But are you prepared for what’s out there? In this blog, a handful of our solicitors recall their experiences of life after law college, offering tips on what to expect and how to earn that crucial first legal job or training contract.

Work for free, but don’t sell yourself short

Esha Kalra, Trainee Solicitor

Experience is essential, so my advice would be to undertake unpaid work in a number of firms to build up as much as you possibly can. It boosts your confidence, looks great on your CV and gives you the chance to make contacts. If you seize every opportunity to impress, they might even offer you that all important training contract.

However, I think it’ important to note that whilst you may feel desperate, you shouldn’t just leap on the first opportunity that comes along if it doesn’t feel right. I was working, unpaid, in a firm for a few months when they offered me a training contract but. Upon careful deliberation, I decided not to take it. The key to a successful career is to be happy in your job & you can’t give your best if you’re miserable. Avoid making knee-jerk career decisions by telling yourself what you have to offer your employer, not just what they have to offer you. If a career in law is what you want, you will succeed with a little hard work, patience and determination. Study hard, work hard and enjoy what you do Mike Brawley, Residential Property Solicitor
Study really hard while you can. The competition for paid employment is intense and law firms, inundated with applications, are likely to filter at the first stage using academic results. Think of it as a boxing match & that extra hour working while your opponent is in the pub may earn you the prize, while they get the hard luck story. As with any job, once you’re in make sure to give it everything you have. Progression can be tough, so you’ll want to take every opportunity to demonstrate what you can offer. Law is a career, not just a job, so if it means getting in an hour earlier in the morning and leaving half an hour later then so be it. Success does not come easy, but nor should it. That said, you must give yourself time to relax & there’ no point being overworked to the point where your work suffers as a result. Above all, you must be happy in what you do. You might not spend every day heroically defeating the bad guys in court, but there are definitely worse ways to make a living & so enjoy it! It’ tough for everybody, so don’t panic Ann Laylo, Trainee Solicitor I think the best advice I could give to any budding lawyer is to be patient and persevere. It has taken me nearly four years since I completed the Legal Practice Course to get a training contract & it can be tough if you haven’t secured one before leaving law school, but it’ not the end of the world. The process of applying and preparing for interviews is often tedious, but the best approach is to be realistic by targeting firms that recruit trainees and fit your skill set and experience. There will be rejections and sometimes you won’t even get a response at all. It happens to everybody, so try not to allow yourself to get demotivated. Persevere and use the time to get out and gain some experience. I didn’t appreciate it so much at the time, but the experience I obtained before starting my training contract really helped prepare me for what was ahead. It has made me much more confident in speaking to clients and fellow professionals, as well as handling my own case load. For information about our work experience, training and employment opportunities, click here.