Want to find out what a career in law is really like?
We took some time to speak with Michael, Saxan and Sarah – three employees currently working at Access Legal Solicitors – to gain some insight into what it takes to work in the world of law, and get some advice on what you’ll need to get started.
Here’s what we learned:
Question: What are you current roles?
Michael: I’ve been with Access Legal Solicitors for three years. I’m a senior associate in the clinical negligence department. I run a small case load (less than 20) of high-value and complex claims for clients who have suffered life-changing injuries.
Sarah: I joined Access Legal Solicitors as an assistant solicitor. I was promoted to my current role as an associate in 2006. I now specialise in higher-value claims and claims arising out of neglect or abuse in care homes.
Saxan: I started at Access Legal Solicitors in 2010 as an admin assistant. I studied and qualified whilst working and I’m now a Chartered Legal Executive in the personal injury department.
So, for anyone looking to step into law, what kind of studying do you need to qualify? Did you all go down the university route, or are there other options?
M: I studied law at Durham way back in 1999.
We imagine it’s changed a great deal in the past twenty years…
M: There was a real mix of law students in my year, from those who had been determined to work for Clifford Chance or Allen & Overy for years and for whom a law degree was a necessary prerequisite for their chosen legal career, to people like myself who were studying law because we weren’t quite sure what we wanted to be when we grew up. I still haven’t decided what I want to be when I grow up!
Sar: I studied an LLB at the University of Northampton and did my LPC (part-time) at De Montfort University. I knew from an early age I wanted to be a Solicitor, so a degree in law was the only option for me.
Sax: I didn’t go to University. I studied to become a Chartered Legal Executive. I studied the CILEx Level 3 Professional Diploma in Law and Practice at Bracknell and Wokingham College. I then went on to study the CILEx Level 6 Professional Higher Diploma in Law and Practice at Guildford College, and I also went through CILEx Law School.
The CILEx courses sound like a good alternative for those not wanting to go down the university route. How about work experience in the industry? Would you say that’s a vital step?
M: More than ever, work experience is being used as a way to differentiate between the vast number of candidates all vying for the same positions. The more experience you have, the better your prospects will be of breaking through into the legal sector.
Sax: While studying, I was in a permanent Paralegal position, and my time in this role went towards my qualifying employment required to qualify as a Chartered Legal Executive.
What would you say to all those out there who are considering law as a career? Is there any advice you could offer that you wish you’d have known?
Sar: Try and set yourself apart from the competition at an early stage. Do as much voluntary work or work experience as you can. Training contracts are hard to secure.
M: The legal sector is exceptionally high-pressured, competitive and stressful. Really think about why you’d like to be a lawyer.
Sax: It’s really helpful to be working in a role that counts towards the qualifying employment element of the course while studying.
If your current role doesn’t include any duties that would count towards qualifying employment, then I’d recommend speaking with your employers to see if there are any tasks that you can take on to assist with this.
Do you face any day-to-day challenges with what you do? Either with clients, or with the cases that you work on?
Sax: I’d say that the most challenging part of my role is trying to progress matters when faced with difficulties with the opponent, and also trying to manage the client’s expectations. However, it’s very rewarding to get a successful outcome for the client.
Sar: Having to deal with families who are often dealing with the loss of a loved one and at a time when they have so many unanswered questions.
M: My clients’ stories, their injuries and the impact it has on them and their families. It can be heart-breaking but it’s also what makes my job amazing.
From the diversity that each practice offers, to the intellectual challenges and financial benefits, law can be an incredibly rewarding career path.
And, despite what you may think, you don’t even necessarily need to go to university to get started.
It could just take the right course, hard work, and a decent level of work experience while you study – and your ideal legal career could be well within your reach.
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