The London Law Student Journey: Extracurricular Activities

The London Law Student Journey: Extracurricular Activities

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 will be sharing The London Law Student Journey Series and going into detail as I talk about each one. I will be covering:

📚My educational journey,

👩🏾‍💻 The extracurriculars that I had over time, and how I leveraged these experiences,

👩🏾‍💼 My work experience and how I sold it on my applications!

So with that let’s start with the second post in this series.

Using Extra Curricular Activities To Stand Out

Extracurricular activities can arguably be a key ingredient to the secret sauce of your application. How? You might be wondering.

It’s probably fair to say that most of the candidates applying to law firms are of a high quality, with the right grades and work experience to talk about in their applications. However, as most of my readers know, personally my grades in first year and second year overall weren’t particularly the best, I got firsts in some modules and nosedived in other subjects.

When it came to doing my applications I knew that I would need to present a really strong story and unique selling point (USP). One of the ways I was able to successfully do this was in leveraging the things that made me unique compared to other applicants i.e. by presenting who I was beyond the grades and work experience.

Demonstrating Your USP

I was able to really do this through my extracurricular activities. I wanted to show that despite my initial performance in the early years, I was an individual that was consistently resilient, worked hard, took the initiative in positions of leadership and was the first to try new things, particularly demonstrated through my involvement in legaltech before it was popular.

I drew it back to even support my narrative around my grades that despite not performing well, I was able to take the transferable skills picked up in my normal life to then graduate with firsts.

Showing Who You Are

It is important to note here, that you don’t always need to have saved a small country by the age of 12 or speak 50 languages. Extracurricular activities can be as simple as volunteering for your local charity, the blog that you run, your calligraphy hobby, tutoring or your interests in campaigning. The list goes on. The important point to remember is that law firms also want to see that you are well rounded and more importantly human, sounds odd I know, but most of them do. It is also important to remember that people invest in people. 

Extracurricular activities in this way can be an amazing opportunity to demonstrate who you are as a person and also hint at what drives you beyond just the work and grades. They can be a great way to sell your uniqueness in a way that a standard application that just focuses on grades and work experience might not be able to.

Below I list some of my extracurricular activities and the transferable skills I leveraged on my applications. For each one, I have tried to keep it short on what the experience was, and what transferable skills I gained.

To also help you identify some of your soft and transferable skills I’ve also included a transferable skills bingo sheet below!  Let me know what you think and if it was useful.

THE LONDON LAW STUDENT JOURNEY: EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES

High School

I was chosen as part of a group that gave feedback to the TV shows and got to tour around the old BBC studios in London! I was able to begin developing my communication skills here.

I was selected to represent my peers three years running in school council meetings where decisions were made that affected students. Here I was able to build my leadership skills and ability to listen to my peers and convey their concerns to authority.

I was selected to be a part of a group that mentored local primary school children on issues such as Fairtrade, building an ethical society and caring for the environment. I was able to start building on my ability to communicate authoritatively as well as taking the lead when researching lesson plans.

I was part of a group that helped to set up one of the first student run magazines. Here, I started developing on my writing and persuasion skills.

 

Here I was able to demonstrate my ability to lead and inspire others through tough rehearsals.

I was able to demonstrate my ability to work as a team through a project that I did with some friends, and our prize was a behind the scenes tour of the set of Hollyoaks.

College

I won the regional competition with my speech: “People and governments have never learned anything from history”. I was able to develop my public speaking and ability to be persuasive.

I continued my work mentoring local high school kids this time. I was able to develop my emotional intelligence by being able to better understand people from different backgrounds and walks of life.

I was able to show determination by being a part of a group in my college that championed the issue of recognising the ramifications of cyberbullying.

I was the first singer to place in the annual competition at the college for my rendition of Lullaby of Birdland by Ella Fitzgerald. This was after the music teacher refused my application for me to study music there. Through this I was able to demonstrate my resilience and also perseverance.

Through this I was able to build my networking and communication skills as I met various people through being an ambassador during the Olympics. During my time I assisted the Brazilian fencing team.

Alongside my A Levels, I actually took this class in my spare time because I really loved the language. I was able to demonstrate my ability to self manage and stay organised given that I was also doing 5 A Levels at the same time. On average you usually do 3 in the UK.

I was selected as valedictorian at the end of my time at college in recognition of and due to my consistent contribution to the community. Again showing that I had leadership skills.

University

I was a contributor and editor for the UCL Laws student run magazine Silky B. Through this I was able to develop my creativity and ability to research for stories.

I launched this blog in 2014 in my second year. Throughout my applications, I have been able to point to this blog to demonstrate that as well as being a self-starter, I have the skills to build a strong personal brand as well as seeing a project through.

I wrote articles for both publications and I was able to demonstrate my ability to write critically and well.

For The Times, I wrote an article on whether or not diversity was just a buzzword. Additionally, I linked it back to my blog because I got the chance to write for it as I approached the editor at a networking event and told him about my writing. Further demonstrating my ability to network and build relationships.

For Milkround, I covered an event that was chaired by Lady Hale on whether quotas and targets were the way forward in increasing diversity in the profession.

I participated in the events put on by the society from client interviewing, negotiations and mooting. I was able to talk about these experiences as helping to shape my decision on whether I wanted to be a solicitor or barrister. In short I really enjoyed client interviewing and negotiations, but I really didn’t enjoy mooting.

Post Grad Life

Out of over 30 international entrants I was awarded this prize by the International Association of Young Lawyers, for my research essay: “Will the increasing use of technology invigorate or diminish legal professionalism, as the nature of information changes in the ‘Digital Age.” This was the dissertation I had submitted in my final year at UCL. Through this I was able to further demonstrate my consistent track record in writing well.

Sitting alongside various partners from law firms, academics such as Richard Susskind and ex Supreme Court judges I am on the Advisory Board helping to educate on tech law and its effects on the profession. Through being involved with the SCL for nearly 3 years, I was able to demonstrate my thought leadership in the techlaw space.

I wrote articles for both publications and I was able to demonstrate my ability to write critically and well.

For The Times, I wrote an article on whether or not diversity was just a buzzword. Additionally, I linked it back to my blog because I got the chance to write for it as I approached the editor at a networking event and told him about my writing. Further demonstrating my ability to network and build relationships.

For Milkround, I covered an event that was chaired by Lady Hale on whether quotas and targets were the way forward in increasing diversity in the profession.

I was a judge for a techlaw themed, mock assessment day which saw over 94 teams compete. This was also as a result of my suggestion to the SCL Board for more student focused events, and here I was able to demonstrate again my initiative and ability to influence and see projects through.

Overall, through my experiences, I was able to drive home the point in my applications that I had consistently built on all my transferable and soft skills over the last few years. Taken together, these also demonstrated why I was a strong candidate as I had demonstrated these transferable skills consistently.
 
Hopefully this post gives you an idea of how extra curricular activities can be used to develop your story in the application and in particular, your own USP.  Over the years, I focused on building on what I had and seeing how my story fit together over time and how that would be compatible with a career in the law.
 
 The London Law Student Transferable Skills Bingo
Below, I have also included a non-exhaustive list of transferable skills to help you identify some themes in your own work experience and developing your own unique selling point story.
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