The London Law Student Journey: Before Law School

The London Law Student Journey: Before Law School

Since starting the @londonlawstudent account over on Instagram, I have received various requests to go into my journey of how I got a techlaw training contract at Clifford Chance. One of the common asks that I receive is to talk a little bit more about my journey from education, work experiences to finally receiving the offer.

Over a series of posts, I have been sharing The London Law Student Journey Series and going into detail as I talk about each one:

📚My educational journey,
👩🏾‍💻 The extracurriculars that I had over time, and how I leveraged these experiences,
👩🏾‍💼 Finally, I will discuss my work experience and how I sold it on my applications!
So with that let’s start with the first part of three, that goes into my work experience before law school. To keep up with the links to the subsequent parts, keep an eye out on this link:

Part One: Before Law school

During my high school and college years, I mainly took on part-time roles during the summer such as babysitting. Due to my workload at GCSE and A-Levels, I didn’t really work part-time during term time as I was doing more electives than average.

However, what I did have going for me were really strong hobbies and other experiences from leading worship at church to volunteering in a charity shop, running the school choir and so on. As I outline in my extra-curricular activities post, I had a number of positions of leadership throughout high school and college. I was able to use these experiences on all my applications to demonstrate that from an early stage, I had the transferable skills of leadership, organisation and communicating effectively.

Deciding that I wanted to Be A lawyer

When I realised around Year 10 of high school that a career within the law was of interest to me, I didn’t know what it meant really. I had read a book that inspired me and I liked the sound of it but that was about it.

To get a better idea of what this meant, I used the work experience week that my high school gave us off and wrote to local high street firms in Manchester asking if I could shadow them for a week. Through this initiative I was able to secure a couple of opportunities to experience first hand what working as a lawyer might look like.

Additionally, in college I was able to secure a voluntary Legal Administration role at Shelter, a charity that campaigns to end homelessness and bad housing. Through this experience I was able to see the daily work of in-house lawyers through tasks such as typing up their dictation notes, helping their finance department with small tasks, to attending court and sitting in on client meetings.

One summer, I also worked as a Marketing and Sales Assistant, for a local experience day photography studio. I was able to use this experience to demonstrate that through the number of bookings I took, I had begun to develop the skill of being able to sell (communicate) effectively

How did I write about these experiences on my applications?

Firstly, I was able to use both of these experiences on the personal statement that I used to apply to law school via UCAS, to demonstrate that I had taken an active role to discover what this subject area meant from a practical perspective and at an early stage.

Secondly, on my initial applications for law firm open days and vacation schemes, I used it to demonstrate that as well as being proactive, through the experiences, and after talking to professionals, I was able to work out that I was more interested in the idea of working for a large commercial firm (rather than in-house or high-street firm) due to the variety of work. Therefore my reasons for applying to firm X’s open day/ scheme, were for me to confirm this and see what it actually meant to be a commercial lawyer.

Overall, my initial applications relied mostly on my extra-curricular activities alongside some of these experiences to start building my profile. Overtime, I was able to add more work experience to balance out the extra-curricular experiences.

Examples from my successful applications

Shelter (100 words)
It taught me the importance of motivation, as the role was unpaid, but I still had to do the same amount of work as paid employees. This involved keeping organized, typing up case notes accurately and making sure the solicitors were billed correctly, attending court, observing solicitors and court proceedings. This role proved invaluable to me as a young person because it taught me the importance of professionalism, discipline and how to represent myself in front of clients from an earlier stage, at a time when I was considering whether or not to study law.

Photography Studio (100 words)
This job proved invaluable in teaching me even stronger interpersonal and negotiation skills. I had to get the promotional competition winner’s bank details in order to successfully book them in. I learnt how to build trust over the phone in a small time frame in order to meet my targets. This has helped in partaking in Negotiation competitions, as I find it easier to build a rapport and be persuasive in a way that isn’t too brash and I find it much easier to be succinct in order to get to the point quicker and get things done.

Practical Steps

If you are at this stage, and you have an interest in studying law, I would suggest to start exploring what this really means. Compared to when I was in high school, there are now even more organisations and initiatives that offer to give high school and college students practical advice and access to careers that they may not have considered before. For example, Pathways to LawBright NetworkGeneration Success and so on.

If possible, I would reach out to smaller firms and in the same way, ask to do work experience.

With the growth of social media, there are also so many YouTubers and bloggers who often share an insight into their journey, and again these can be a good starting place to get a feel of where you need to be looking, and what you need to be aware of.

Lastly, it is good to remember that the journey of applying to a law firm is a competitive process and in some cases, it might take you a bit longer as you develop more experiences in order to be in the strongest position you can be when it comes to your applications, as I did. In retrospect, I can say that it’s not necessarily a bad thing either.

In my next post, I will discuss my work experiences throughout university. Let me know below if this was insightful or if you have any questions.


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