Jennifer Rowlinson | Trainee Solicitor

Advice for Future Lawyers- a trainee’s perspective

Cleveden Secondary School Career Fair

Last month Olivia and I took a trip down memory lane and went back to high school for an evening. We attended Cleveden Secondary School’s career fair. Our role was to represent the firm, and answer any questions or queries the pupils had about a career in law.

From UCAS applications and first year exams, all the way through to securing a traineeship, the pupils asked a variety of interesting and intelligent questions. We were pleasantly surprised by their enthusiasm, and impressed by their well thought out career plans- a far cry from our own aged sixteen and younger!

Being a part of the schools careers fair was a rewarding experience. We advised pupils of what it is like to study law and be a trainee solicitor. Speaking to pupils who were understandably nervous and excited, we had to reflect on our own experiences and consider what advice we would have wanted to hear when we were in secondary school and considering a career in law.

For many pupils and parents their main concern was whether considering a career in law during the early secondary school years was too early. Our advice is that it is never too early! By this we do not mean pupils have to have their future mapped out. What we mean is that it’s never too early to start considering that a career in law may be an option for you. A goal you can work towards. It is important to start considering what subjects and experience you can gain to aid you at a later date when applications for universities are due and traineeship deadlines are fast approaching.

Universities primarily look for what grades you have in the first instance. Law is an intellectually challenging subject and profession. You require to show that you have the potential to cope with that by getting high grades. A broad range of school subjects are beneficial. English, History, and Modern Studies are all good picks, but what you choose is fairly flexible. The next factor to consider is experience. This is equally as important as grades. The more experience you have the better. Law is competitive and if you can show from a young age that you are keen and have made an effort to gain experiences in the type of work you are likely to be doing as a trainee or a solicitor this will work in your favour. Many law firms host open days where you can visit their offices and find out more about what solicitors do. There is also the option of a summer or work placement where you can shadow staff within a law firm and observe the day-to –day work a lawyer experiences.

You can gain experience even by contacting law firms directly, to find out if they have any opportunities for work experience. It’s all about determination and dedication.

Work experience also provides you with an opportunity to develop key skills, such as working in a team, networking and working on your interpersonal skills – all relevant to a career in law.

Asking the right questions and speaking with law students, trainees or qualified lawyers will help you better understand what a career in law involves and what is expected of you.

After graduating you can progress to the legal profession in Scotland by completing the Diploma in Professional Legal Practice, followed by a two year traineeship with a legal firm in order to qualify as a solicitor. You can then opt to go to the Bar, to qualify as an advocate. Importantly, a career in law opens many doors and allows you to learn about various disciplines that are relatable to everyday life. Many graduates who do not choose a legal career can transfer their skills and experiences to other career paths such finance, journalism or management.

As trainee solicitors, the experience of going back to school was extremely rewarding. It allowed us to reflect on our own journey through university and now into the legal profession. We spent a lot of our time at the career fair passing on advice to the pupils that- looking back- we would have given our younger selves. To summarise we would advise any future lawyers to:

  • Have confidence in your own abilities and intelligence.
  • Start gaining work experience as early as possible. Whether that is one day a week helping in a small firm or a summer placement in a larger commercial firm.
  • Life as a law student often feels a bit overwhelming. You’re trying to juggle studying, good grades, a part time job, work experience, a social life… (The list goes on!) Find a balance that’s right for you, and stick to it.
  • Don’t be put off by rumours! For example, “there are no jobs for young lawyers” and “it’s impossible to secure a traineeship”. With hard work and the right attitude, anything is possible.
  • Try not to compare yourself to your peers throughout university. Everyone will have different goals, gain different experience and achieve different grades.

We received very positive feedback from the school’s career advisor, who said:

“On behalf of the Cleveden Secondary School community, I would like to thank you for your support of our career & community fair. We appreciate the significant time and commitment from, both you as an individual, /company and your organisation. The pupils and parents I spoke with and the evaluations I read were very positive and many of them noted how encouraging and supportive you were. As a school, our hope is that our young people will be more informed about what is available to them, decisive in making appropriate career choices and motivated to get the grades/skills required for their chosen career. Once again, our heartfelt thanks for your support of our pupils’ career journey.”

The future looks bright!

Rachel & Olivia

Jennifer Rowlinson

Jennifer Rowlinson

Personal Injury Team

“I enjoy building a rapport with my clients. I enjoy helping my clients through the court process and helping them to reach a conclusion with their case”

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