Career Change Success Stories

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by geraniumdreams, Oct 14, 2020.

  1. geraniumdreams

    geraniumdreams Standard Member

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    Hey all, hope you're doing well!

    I'm a career changer looking to move into law after three years of working in unrelated industries and hopefully will be embarking on the GDL in January.

    The only thing is, I'm very very nervous it won't pan out. It feels like for every story I hear about a career changer managing to secure a TC, there are five more who are struggling to make it happen.

    I'm curious as to whether there are any other career changers on TCLA who have managed to successfully secure a TC, what your backgrounds are like and how you proved your commitment to law with an unrelated background? In addition, I'd also be curious to know how long it took to secure a TC?

    If anyone has any advice on how to move forward, I'd love to hear it! I'm reluctant to start the GDL without a TC but at a Virtual Open Day I went to, the grad recruiter said that it was rare for non-law graduate career changers to apply to TC/Vac Schemes without having at least started the GDL already.

    Thanks so much :)
     
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  2. D

    D Legendary Member
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    It is as if this post was made for me! :)

    As a brief bit of background - I was a Detective in the Police prior to embarking on this journey. Before that, I had some classic "young" jobs in shops, etc/

    I was able to prove my commitment to law, firstly from my "obvious" interest in the law from my career in the Police. After that, I could show that by choosing to change career and study law at a higher education institution, this showed that it wasn't just a rash decision made one evening. This was a significant commitment I had made to the profession. Finally, I attended a LOT of open days and networking events and had good reasons for not pursuing a career at the bar. In my view, these all made for a comprehensive and persuasive argument as to my "commitment" to commercial law.

    I was able to secure multiple TC's in my first cycle. Those who I know who have sought to change career and have really committed themselves to obtaining alternative employment have had little issue in securing a TC. I found recruiters and partners incredibly receptive to my applications and interview answers (you can read a fair bit about my story on TCLA if you so wish). In fact, they likely found it refreshing to hear about different experiences to the classic "I was in the law society and did X". This, as well with a proven history of achievement in employment likely made me a strong candidate when applying. You will likely be able to do the same, provided that you apply yourself correctly.

    There is a list of firms here on TCLA that will retrospectively reimburse your GDL/LPC costs. Ordinarily, it is good advice to heed that you should not finance this from your own pocket, as you may come out at the end with nothing, however, if you are confident you can secure a TC then there's no need to worry. It can be reclaimed back.

    If you have any further questions, feel free to post here and I'll do my best :)
     
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  3. Kingswood58

    Kingswood58 Well-Known Member
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    Hello! Just wanted to add to the post above with an additional perspective.

    I graduated from a law undergrad a few years back but worked in education through all my summers and full time for the few years since, alongside doing an MA unrelated to law, and had always planned to go into practice eventually but didn't really know when. Covid gave me the push to unexpectedly put some applications in this year, so I hadn't done a VS / any law related experience since sixth form. Managed to secure a TC that I'll be starting in 2022 (so, to answer your Q, during the first cycle I applied in) with a firm I'm really excited to work for.

    In terms of the proving commitment to the law question, I've been reflecting on the whole process a lot recently and I think there's 2 things I'd flag up:

    i) If you can find a firm with a practice area / sector aligned to the career you're changing from, it'll make it much more easy to tell your story and build a clear narrative demonstrating your commitment to the law. I almost exclusively applied to firms working in the education sector, and even though I also talked lots in my interviews about my interest in understanding other areas, it was really helpful in explaining my interest in the law more broadly.
    ii) Absolutely do not underestimate the experience and skills you have from the area you're changing from. Remember you ultimately have excellent evidence of why you will be a great lawyer, because you're likely already demonstrating the skills a lawyer needs in your current role, which those coming straight from uni might not be able to.

    Can't be any help on the GDL route, but like D's post, if you have any questions and I can help - feel free to say.
     
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  4. geraniumdreams

    geraniumdreams Standard Member

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    Wow - thanks so much for sharing! I'll definitely have to find the rest of your story on the forum :)

    This all sounds very reassuring. I agree that studying at a higher education institution shows a good amount of commitment. There's a part of me that would much rather do a Senior Status LLB than the GDL but that might mean waiting until next academic year D:

    How did you narrow down the firms you wanted to apply to? Did you consider those which fit best with your background/are a little more welcoming to career changers in general?

    Thanks again! :)
     
  5. geraniumdreams

    geraniumdreams Standard Member

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    Thanks so much and congratulations on securing your TC! It's good to know that you don't necessarily have to have reams of legal work experience as I've been really struggling to secure the traditional two weeks during COVID!

    I'm coming at this from a fashion ecomm/ media background so definitely looking to target IP/technology/media type firms. It does seem like a great idea to refine the narrative in that direction!

    Thanks again for the great advice :)
     
  6. MAQ

    MAQ New Member

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    Hi Geraniumdreams,

    I was in your position a bit over a year ago, having decided to retrain as a lawyer in the summer of 2019 and also coming from a totally unrelated industry. I managed to secure a TC in my first application cycle, and here is my experience and also my answers to your questions. If you want to follow up, please don't hesitate to get in touch privately.

    I enrolled into the GDL part-time before the application process began. I understand your reluctance, but I concur with the advice given to you by the recruiter. It is one of the best ways to evidence your interest in and commitment to law as a career changer. However, I have to confess that I did not consider this when I enrolled. I had an epiphany moment, knew I wanted to (finally!) do law, and less than two week later I had submitted all my documents and was admitted to the course. As an aside, some Unis have good scholarship programmes. I secured one, and that has also been a great help in terms of funding and a good line in my CV.

    The other benefit of enrolling in the GDL is that you will be able to do pro-bono work. I did this, and I learned a huge amount. It was also another way of demonstrating my commitment to law. Further, when you answer competency based questions, you will be able to draw from your legal experience as opposed to having to revert to you current career exclusively. This should come across well.

    Notwithstanding all the above... I would begin applying to VC now if you can! This term is key. So many firms' Easter and Summer vacation schemes have application deadlines in January, and I think that applying early (around a month in advance) is a must. I found the written application stage the hardest. It is a skill that needs to be honed, and then one needs to also be a bit lucky. My tip (and I'm not on commission!) is to have your applications reviewed by Jaysen or someone in his team. I learned *so* much from his corrections!! You have nothing to lose and much to gain from applying now before you start the course.

    I personally think that a career changer brings many valuable skills, and I recommend that you focus on everything that you bring to the table in your applications. Leverage all your experience. If you are interested in a practice area that is related to your current field, this will be even easier, but if you would want to do something else, don't let that dissuade you. I'll be training in a completely unrelated sector.

    Good luck!!!
     
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  7. geraniumdreams

    geraniumdreams Standard Member

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    This is so helpful - thanks so much! I am writing a few VC applications at the moment so very likely to be sending them through for review.

    And may shoot you some private messages too.

    Thanks so much again for sharing and congrats on securing your TC! :)
     
  8. MAQ

    MAQ New Member

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    Please do, happy to help!

     
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  9. D

    D Legendary Member
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    The only way I narrowed firms down were those who I wanted to work for and those who I didn't. I didn't really consider whether they would be "more receptive" to career changers. Ultimately, if a firm wants you, they want you! I'd really just look at what type of law you are interested in, whether you want to have exit opportunities, the hours/remuneration you expect, etc :)
     
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  10. NickMcK

    NickMcK Star Member

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    It seems there are quite a few successful career changers on TCLA after all! So you've found a good place to get started!

    My experience echoes others who have replied so far. I secured a TC in my first cycle last year and am changing careers from a completely unrelated sector which straddles non-profit, education and public sector work.

    I made a lot of effort to learn the application process and what I needed to demonstrate to get a TC and that really helped. A few things particularly helped me:
    1. I started the GDL part-time. I know there is a debate about whether to get this funded or not before but this enabled me to demonstrate my commitment, learn skills that are used in TC assessments, such as legal research, and have access to a legal careers service.
    2. Using that careers service to go through my CV and showcase the parts commercial firms would be interested in and take out the irrelevant parts. It was eye opening for me to see just how much relevant experience I had. This is especially the case if you are applying to commercial firms and have any commercial experience at all. It's not uncommon to see business cases and SWOT analyses within questions at assessment centres. These can be alien to current undergraduates but are familiar to those already in work.
    3. Attending as many open days, careers fairs and networking events as I could. If anything to learn about different law firms and narrow down my choices but also to build connections with those firms and learn more about the application process.
    4. Expanding this to attend webinars and professional events where possible. E.g. attending events put on by law firms connected to my industry.
    5. Volunteering with an organisation based in the courts. It wasn't commercially focused but gave me first hand experience in the courts and supporting clients. It really showed me I enjoyed doing legal work too. In interviews this was well received as as a way of showing my commitment to the law as a profession rather than just a a different way to earn an income.
    6. Talking to my managers at work and taking on law-related tasks, even brief things such as reviewing contracts, policies or getting involved in business development activities. It all helps demonstrate your skills and commitment.
    7. Finally, really putting in the time to research and write applications as well as practice any tested elements, such as psychometric testing. You really need to put in a lot of time and effort to every stage.
    It sounds like you're off to a good start but feel free to message me if you have any questions!
     
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  11. geraniumdreams

    geraniumdreams Standard Member

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    Sorry for the late reply but thank you so much for this! Will definitely note these different factors when I’m looking at firms! :)
     
  12. geraniumdreams

    geraniumdreams Standard Member

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    This is so useful, thank you so much for compiling all of this info! Definitely a ton of food for thought.

    Congratulations on your TC and I may be reaching out via message a little later this milkround if that’s ok?

    Thanks again! :)
     

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