A student in need of direction.

A worried final year

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Mar 25, 2024
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I am in my final year at a pretty small uni and am projected to get a solid 2:1.

Most students in my cohort are planning to self-fund their postgrad qualifications and I am looking for some way or another to be able to avoid this.

I sadly do not have any legal work experience but have managed to get a few open days via Aspiring Solicitors and I am waiting for a reply from one of the firms that I had an open day at but have been rejected by the other two.

What should I be thinking about at this moment with my career path? My goal is/was to work as a solicitor with a commercially related (business-oriented) practice area.
 
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axelbeugre

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I am in my final year at a pretty small uni and am projected to get a solid 2:1.

Most students in my cohort are planning to self-fund their postgrad qualifications and I am looking for some way or another to be able to avoid this.

I sadly do not have any legal work experience but have managed to get a few open days via Aspiring Solicitors and I am waiting for a reply from one of the firms that I had an open day at but have been rejected by the other two.

What should I be thinking about at this moment with my career path? My goal is/was to work as a solicitor with a commercially related (business-oriented) practice area.
Hey @A worried final year,

Thanks for sharing your experience and your concerns as I recognise it is not an easy thing to do. It is a very daunting thing so I applaud you for doing that.

I can totally resonate with your circumstances as I was not wiling to self-fund my legal education too. I put all my efforts into looking for vacation schemes and training contracts to make sure that this year I was covered, especially being an international student, and luckily this worked in my favour. However, this does not mean that the process is ridiculously hard and many need to apply many years before being able to have a successful cycle.

What I would recommend in your situation is:
  • Get work experience in a corporate environment. This does not necessarily have to be legal but any kind of corporate experience will be very much appreciated in a law firm application, especially banking or consulting, as these are sectors that will allow you to develop similar skills as law.
  • Start preparing now for the next cycle. I would do a deeper dive into the firms you are interested in and try to understand what kind of practice areas you might be interested in. Start reading and learning more about these as this will allow you to be ready for application questions/interview questions that will ask you for your specific interests.
  • Have a list of firms, dates of application closing and opening, note which firms recruit on a rolling basis and which do not, so you know which law firms you need to target first.
  • When you go to open days, ask specific questions that you might be interested in knowing. Whether these concern the firm specifically or the sector at large. Make sure to ask very intelligent questions (maybe do your research first) as you might make a very good first impression to a firm and this will be beneficial when you apply for a vacation scheme or a training contract later on.
These are some of the things I would consider. Good luck with your journey!
 

A worried final year

Valued Member
Mar 25, 2024
106
41
Hey @A worried final year,

Thanks for sharing your experience and your concerns as I recognise it is not an easy thing to do. It is a very daunting thing so I applaud you for doing that.

I can totally resonate with your circumstances as I was not wiling to self-fund my legal education too. I put all my efforts into looking for vacation schemes and training contracts to make sure that this year I was covered, especially being an international student, and luckily this worked in my favour. However, this does not mean that the process is ridiculously hard and many need to apply many years before being able to have a successful cycle.

What I would recommend in your situation is:
  • Get work experience in a corporate environment. This does not necessarily have to be legal but any kind of corporate experience will be very much appreciated in a law firm application, especially banking or consulting, as these are sectors that will allow you to develop similar skills as law.
  • Start preparing now for the next cycle. I would do a deeper dive into the firms you are interested in and try to understand what kind of practice areas you might be interested in. Start reading and learning more about these as this will allow you to be ready for application questions/interview questions that will ask you for your specific interests.
  • Have a list of firms, dates of application closing and opening, note which firms recruit on a rolling basis and which do not, so you know which law firms you need to target first.
  • When you go to open days, ask specific questions that you might be interested in knowing. Whether these concern the firm specifically or the sector at large. Make sure to ask very intelligent questions (maybe do your research first) as you might make a very good first impression to a firm and this will be beneficial when you apply for a vacation scheme or a training contract later on.
These are some of the things I would consider. Good luck with your journey!
The problem I have with corporate work experience and open days to a lesser extent is my location. Firms in my area that offer open days that aren't as competitive as general applications won't fund the LPC/SQE and so would not fix the problem.

I would be fine with waiting another cycle but I need something to do in the meantime and I have no idea how to go about gaining banking or consulting work experience ( I am also a long way from London).
 
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axelbeugre

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The problem I have with corporate work experience and open days to a lesser extent is my location. Firms in my area that offer open days that aren't as competitive as general applications won't fund the LPC/SQE and so would not fix the problem.

I would be fine with waiting another cycle but I need something to do in the meantime and I have no idea how to go about gaining banking or consulting work experience ( I am also a long way from London).
I guess you need to decide whether you really want to move to London or you would be fine staying in your area.

For other kinds of jobs, I think that LinkedIn is a good place to start and any kind of job will be useful for your law firm applications! Even working in a charity or in a shop will be appreciated, so do not worry if it is not a corporate job.
 

A worried final year

Valued Member
Mar 25, 2024
106
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I guess you need to decide whether you really want to move to London or you would be fine staying in your area.

For other kinds of jobs, I think that LinkedIn is a good place to start and any kind of job will be useful for your law firm applications! Even working in a charity or in a shop will be appreciated, so do not worry if it is not a corporate job.
I already have a part time job at a supermarket and an interview lined up for a paralegal role thankfully.

I don’t want to move to London unless it’s a job I can’t get here and the salary makes it worth it
 
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A worried final year

Valued Member
Mar 25, 2024
106
41
I guess you need to decide whether you really want to move to London or you would be fine staying in your area.

For other kinds of jobs, I think that LinkedIn is a good place to start and any kind of job will be useful for your law firm applications! Even working in a charity or in a shop will be appreciated, so do not worry if it is not a corporate job.
What type of firms do you think I stand a realistic chance of getting an AC with?
 

ohnoselim

Esteemed Member
Dec 21, 2023
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What type of firms do you think I stand a realistic chance of getting an AC with?
Hi! just came across across your thread and I can relate.

Every firm is competitive, with magic circle and silver circle firms receiving over thousands of applications. Most firms don't require legal experience any experience is valuable. I remember a senior associate at an open day told me how she wrote about being a barmaid! It's all about what skill you achieved, how you developed it and how it will aid you as a lawyer at that specific firm.

If you do have a specific interest in a certain type of law, boutique/specialist law firms could be good for you but the number of spaces they usually give out are few in number compared to bigger city firms. So they'll be looking for a keen interest in that area of law, legal experience isn't key just tailor to the firm and use your experiences/skills to advantage you.

Theres also national firms/regional firms that have offices throughout the uk and could offer you funding too, there also may be the option to move offices but I can imagine that's not a guarantee. I've heard on the forum that some require you to apply again to a London firm, it's not just a swift move. (research that though)

There's also paralegal roles at smaller firms, that offer you a TC after a certain amount of time.

I'd recommend to keep note of firms that recruit mainly from TC's in comparison to vacation schemes, if you are planning to apply to firms in this cycle (there is time, most deadlines are in late may/early june).

Like you I'm a final year with nothing lined up after graduation, so you're not alone. Im also not trying to self-fund. We've got this!
 

axelbeugre

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Sep 14, 2023
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Hi! just came across across your thread and I can relate.

Every firm is competitive, with magic circle and silver circle firms receiving over thousands of applications. Most firms don't require legal experience any experience is valuable. I remember a senior associate at an open day told me how she wrote about being a barmaid! It's all about what skill you achieved, how you developed it and how it will aid you as a lawyer at that specific firm.

If you do have a specific interest in a certain type of law, boutique/specialist law firms could be good for you but the number of spaces they usually give out are few in number compared to bigger city firms. So they'll be looking for a keen interest in that area of law, legal experience isn't key just tailor to the firm and use your experiences/skills to advantage you.

Theres also national firms/regional firms that have offices throughout the uk and could offer you funding too, there also may be the option to move offices but I can imagine that's not a guarantee. I've heard on the forum that some require you to apply again to a London firm, it's not just a swift move. (research that though)

There's also paralegal roles at smaller firms, that offer you a TC after a certain amount of time.

I'd recommend to keep note of firms that recruit mainly from TC's in comparison to vacation schemes, if you are planning to apply to firms in this cycle (there is time, most deadlines are in late may/early june).

Like you I'm a final year with nothing lined up after graduation, so you're not alone. Im also not trying to self-fund. We've got this!
Thank you so much for your long answer, I was about to say the same thing so I am hoping this will help @A worried final year. I think it is difficult to say which firms you have a realistic chance at getting an assessment centre with because many people have different experiences with different firms. I thought that US firms welcomed people from diverse academic and professional backgrounds because this was my experience, whereas other people found that silver circle or magic circle firms do that. I think that a lot of it is also linked to luck unfortunately.
 

A worried final year

Valued Member
Mar 25, 2024
106
41
Hi! just came across across your thread and I can relate.

Every firm is competitive, with magic circle and silver circle firms receiving over thousands of applications. Most firms don't require legal experience any experience is valuable. I remember a senior associate at an open day told me how she wrote about being a barmaid! It's all about what skill you achieved, how you developed it and how it will aid you as a lawyer at that specific firm.

If you do have a specific interest in a certain type of law, boutique/specialist law firms could be good for you but the number of spaces they usually give out are few in number compared to bigger city firms. So they'll be looking for a keen interest in that area of law, legal experience isn't key just tailor to the firm and use your experiences/skills to advantage you.

Theres also national firms/regional firms that have offices throughout the uk and could offer you funding too, there also may be the option to move offices but I can imagine that's not a guarantee. I've heard on the forum that some require you to apply again to a London firm, it's not just a swift move. (research that though)

There's also paralegal roles at smaller firms, that offer you a TC after a certain amount of time.

I'd recommend to keep note of firms that recruit mainly from TC's in comparison to vacation schemes, if you are planning to apply to firms in this cycle (there is time, most deadlines are in late may/early june).

Like you I'm a final year with nothing lined up after graduation, so you're not alone. Im also not trying to self-fund. We've got this!
I’m still not very good at those “tell us a time where you did X questions” and I do wonder if it’s held me back.
 

A worried final year

Valued Member
Mar 25, 2024
106
41
Thank you so much for your long answer, I was about to say the same thing so I am hoping this will help @A worried final year. I think it is difficult to say which firms you have a realistic chance at getting an assessment centre with because many people have different experiences with different firms. I thought that US firms welcomed people from diverse academic and professional backgrounds because this was my experience, whereas other people found that silver circle or magic circle firms do that. I think that a lot of it is also linked to luck unfortunately.
Do you know which firms have good presences in the north west as that’s where my career will likely start?
 

NW Law

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  • Dec 20, 2021
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    Do you know which firms have good presences in the north west as that’s where my career will likely start?
    I currently work in the Liverpool office for an international firm so might be able to give some rough firms...

    In Liverpool you have Hill Dickinson, Weightmans, and DWF. Brabners, DLA Piper, Bond Turner, and Jackson Lees are some good firms. I dont think my firm offers TCs in the Liverpool office directly, so wouldn't be able to help there. In Manchester you have Irwin Mitchell, CMS, Addleshaw Goddard, DWF, DLA Piper, Eversheds, Pinsent Masons, Squire Patton Boggs, Shoosmiths, and Fieldfisher, Hope some of that helps!
     

    A worried final year

    Valued Member
    Mar 25, 2024
    106
    41
    I currently work in the Liverpool office for an international firm so might be able to give some rough firms...

    In Liverpool you have Hill Dickinson, Weightmans, and DWF. Brabners, DLA Piper, Bond Turner, and Jackson Lees are some good firms. I dont think my firm offers TCs in the Liverpool office directly, so wouldn't be able to help there. In Manchester you have Irwin Mitchell, CMS, Addleshaw Goddard, DWF, DLA Piper, Eversheds, Pinsent Masons, Squire Patton Boggs, Shoosmiths, and Fieldfisher, Hope some of that helps!
    That is a lot better than I was expecting to be honest.

    Which of those offer funding and recruit from small universities?
     

    NW Law

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  • Dec 20, 2021
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    That is a lot better than I was expecting to be honest.

    Which of those offer funding and recruit from small universities?
    Agreed - at first I thought there were going to be very few firms up north. But that culture has significantly changed. From a lot of events I have gone to it seems apparent that more firms are clocking on to the north/south divide - so I would watch the space in the coming years as more firms seem set to setup offices there hopefully!

    I'll try to give as much info as I can!

    Hill Dickinson - I don't believe fund you outright. If you have completed the LPC they will let you qualify through that route and that route seems to remain open for the time being. But if you need to take your SQE you can discuss with the firm and they can provide support. I know quite a lot of people here and I would say the firm is huge for small universities and non-rgs.

    Weightmans - has the same policy above I believe.

    DWF - same above, I do not think they they fund - but someone can correct me on that!

    Brabners - I am unsure about re: funding. But they are also great for small universities.

    Jackson Lees & Bond Turner - same above.

    Irwin Mitchell - last I heard they offer around £10k for the PGDL and for the SQE will cover your exams and a four-month SQE prep course. IM are very good for a diverse range of unis.

    Eversheds - £7k grant

    Pinsent Masons - they fund your SQE

    SPB - £10k grant. SPB is great for a diverse range of hires - I know some of their grad rec and they are big time pushing for a broad range of applicants.

    Shoosmiths - £7k grant

    Fieldfisher - £8k grant

    Addleshaw Goddard - £8k grant (great for small unis as well)

    CMS - £15k grant and like a broad range of universities.

    DLA Piper - I don't know much, sorry!

    ---

    I would say, each firm in the north is quite focused and for lack of a better term, slightly less commercial more broadly (i.e., the north tends to handle a nice mix of stuff). If you want only commercial business work then DLA Piper, Eversheds, SPB, Addleshaw Goddard, CMS, and SPB will be right up your alley. If, however, you might be interested in more "personal" areas alongside commercial areas - so thinking like personal injury, education, residential real estate, court of protection then Weightmans, Brabners, Jackson Lees, Bond Turner, Irwin Mitchell will be your thing.

    Hill Dickinson strikes a neat balance in my eyes. I know some of their maritime lawyers but also know some of their lawyers who work in education law (think like advising councils on how to support schools with reasonable adjustments for disabilities as one example).

    If your end goal is to go from the north to the south, I would probably factor that in as well when doing your research as some law firms above only have northern offices while those with an international presence will refuse to support you moving offices down south. Some have open transition policies so could be worth emailing any firm of interest to you to see where you want to move to. The only thing I have found that might be an issue - and someone is free to call me out/correct me if they don't think I am right! - is that there is a small circle of firms (usually US firms) who won't really entertain a lawyer who trained in the north (mainly because they don't think you have the "experience" as a lawyer who trained in the south at a commercial heart law firm might bring). If you aren't interested in that type of "snobby" firm approach, then there are still hundreds and countless prestigious firms that will happily encourage you to apply to them. That being said ... when I did a scheme at Covington the two lawyers I was with were from the north which was an amusing sight to behold - so I don't think it's that much of a deal breaker as it may have been in the past!
     

    prospectiveswitcher

    Legendary Member
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    Aug 18, 2022
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    That is a lot better than I was expecting to be honest.

    Which of those offer funding and recruit from small universities?
    FYI websites like the below will help you research law firms:

     

    A worried final year

    Valued Member
    Mar 25, 2024
    106
    41
    Agreed - at first I thought there were going to be very few firms up north. But that culture has significantly changed. From a lot of events I have gone to it seems apparent that more firms are clocking on to the north/south divide - so I would watch the space in the coming years as more firms seem set to setup offices there hopefully!

    I'll try to give as much info as I can!

    Hill Dickinson - I don't believe fund you outright. If you have completed the LPC they will let you qualify through that route and that route seems to remain open for the time being. But if you need to take your SQE you can discuss with the firm and they can provide support. I know quite a lot of people here and I would say the firm is huge for small universities and non-rgs.

    Weightmans - has the same policy above I believe.

    DWF - same above, I do not think they they fund - but someone can correct me on that!

    Brabners - I am unsure about re: funding. But they are also great for small universities.

    Jackson Lees & Bond Turner - same above.

    Irwin Mitchell - last I heard they offer around £10k for the PGDL and for the SQE will cover your exams and a four-month SQE prep course. IM are very good for a diverse range of unis.

    Eversheds - £7k grant

    Pinsent Masons - they fund your SQE

    SPB - £10k grant. SPB is great for a diverse range of hires - I know some of their grad rec and they are big time pushing for a broad range of applicants.

    Shoosmiths - £7k grant

    Fieldfisher - £8k grant

    Addleshaw Goddard - £8k grant (great for small unis as well)

    CMS - £15k grant and like a broad range of universities.

    DLA Piper - I don't know much, sorry!

    ---

    I would say, each firm in the north is quite focused and for lack of a better term, slightly less commercial more broadly (i.e., the north tends to handle a nice mix of stuff). If you want only commercial business work then DLA Piper, Eversheds, SPB, Addleshaw Goddard, CMS, and SPB will be right up your alley. If, however, you might be interested in more "personal" areas alongside commercial areas - so thinking like personal injury, education, residential real estate, court of protection then Weightmans, Brabners, Jackson Lees, Bond Turner, Irwin Mitchell will be your thing.

    Hill Dickinson strikes a neat balance in my eyes. I know some of their maritime lawyers but also know some of their lawyers who work in education law (think like advising councils on how to support schools with reasonable adjustments for disabilities as one example).

    If your end goal is to go from the north to the south, I would probably factor that in as well when doing your research as some law firms above only have northern offices while those with an international presence will refuse to support you moving offices down south. Some have open transition policies so could be worth emailing any firm of interest to you to see where you want to move to. The only thing I have found that might be an issue - and someone is free to call me out/correct me if they don't think I am right! - is that there is a small circle of firms (usually US firms) who won't really entertain a lawyer who trained in the north (mainly because they don't think you have the "experience" as a lawyer who trained in the south at a commercial heart law firm might bring). If you aren't interested in that type of "snobby" firm approach, then there are still hundreds and countless prestigious firms that will happily encourage you to apply to them. That being said ... when I did a scheme at Covington the two lawyers I was with were from the north which was an amusing sight to behold - so I don't think it's that much of a deal breaker as it may have been in the past!
    The aim is not to go south unless I have to.

    Cost of living , WLB tend to be better up north
     
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    A worried final year

    Valued Member
    Mar 25, 2024
    106
    41
    Agreed - at first I thought there were going to be very few firms up north. But that culture has significantly changed. From a lot of events I have gone to it seems apparent that more firms are clocking on to the north/south divide - so I would watch the space in the coming years as more firms seem set to setup offices there hopefully!

    I'll try to give as much info as I can!

    Hill Dickinson - I don't believe fund you outright. If you have completed the LPC they will let you qualify through that route and that route seems to remain open for the time being. But if you need to take your SQE you can discuss with the firm and they can provide support. I know quite a lot of people here and I would say the firm is huge for small universities and non-rgs.

    Weightmans - has the same policy above I believe.

    DWF - same above, I do not think they they fund - but someone can correct me on that!

    Brabners - I am unsure about re: funding. But they are also great for small universities.

    Jackson Lees & Bond Turner - same above.

    Irwin Mitchell - last I heard they offer around £10k for the PGDL and for the SQE will cover your exams and a four-month SQE prep course. IM are very good for a diverse range of unis.

    Eversheds - £7k grant

    Pinsent Masons - they fund your SQE

    SPB - £10k grant. SPB is great for a diverse range of hires - I know some of their grad rec and they are big time pushing for a broad range of applicants.

    Shoosmiths - £7k grant

    Fieldfisher - £8k grant

    Addleshaw Goddard - £8k grant (great for small unis as well)

    CMS - £15k grant and like a broad range of universities.

    DLA Piper - I don't know much, sorry!

    ---

    I would say, each firm in the north is quite focused and for lack of a better term, slightly less commercial more broadly (i.e., the north tends to handle a nice mix of stuff). If you want only commercial business work then DLA Piper, Eversheds, SPB, Addleshaw Goddard, CMS, and SPB will be right up your alley. If, however, you might be interested in more "personal" areas alongside commercial areas - so thinking like personal injury, education, residential real estate, court of protection then Weightmans, Brabners, Jackson Lees, Bond Turner, Irwin Mitchell will be your thing.

    Hill Dickinson strikes a neat balance in my eyes. I know some of their maritime lawyers but also know some of their lawyers who work in education law (think like advising councils on how to support schools with reasonable adjustments for disabilities as one example).

    If your end goal is to go from the north to the south, I would probably factor that in as well when doing your research as some law firms above only have northern offices while those with an international presence will refuse to support you moving offices down south. Some have open transition policies so could be worth emailing any firm of interest to you to see where you want to move to. The only thing I have found that might be an issue - and someone is free to call me out/correct me if they don't think I am right! - is that there is a small circle of firms (usually US firms) who won't really entertain a lawyer who trained in the north (mainly because they don't think you have the "experience" as a lawyer who trained in the south at a commercial heart law firm might bring). If you aren't interested in that type of "snobby" firm approach, then there are still hundreds and countless prestigious firms that will happily encourage you to apply to them. That being said ... when I did a scheme at Covington the two lawyers I was with were from the north which was an amusing sight to behold - so I don't think it's that much of a deal breaker as it may have been in the past!
    Honestly this is very useful.

    I was going to apply for CMS and SPB but never got around to it and should have been on the ball more.

    I’ve found ways to spit out my applications faster (focus on the firm research but be more generic for past experience questions) but it’s too late now.
     
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    NW Law

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  • Dec 20, 2021
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    The aim is not to go south unless I have to.

    Cost of living , WLB tend to be better up north
    Very fair! I can safely say looking at our Liverpool associates they leave spot on time (some even a bit earlier). The only person staying late is a partner and even then, they're out by 6. Our London associates when I see them, seem to be working much later. WLB is definitely much better up north - but when big deals are involved then it can a bit skewed!

    Honestly this is very useful.

    I was going to apply for CMS and SPB but never got around to it and should have been on the ball more.

    I’ve found ways to spit out my applications faster (focus on the firm research but be more generic for past experience questions) but it’s too late now.
    At least it gives you more time to research those firms and other firms in anticipation of their applications opening (usually around Sep or Oct) - best of luck for them, I am sure you'll do fine!
     

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