Article written by Nicola Gatfield.
At the time of writing this, I am working as a Paralegal in a Conveyancing Department after graduating with a First Class Honours in LLB Law (Hons) with Human Rights degree from City, University of London. This is my second published article featured in The Student Lawyer. During my time at University, I worked as a student ambassador and law student mentor to support my studies.
When reflecting on my time as a student during the Covid-19 pandemic, on-the-job experience was not so easy to find. But there are still a number of options you can utilise in order to boost your chances of employment without holding past experience or a placement.
Firstly, it is vital that you keep up to date with the Graduate Labour Market and relevant deadlines through company and career targeted websites such as Prospects, LawCareers.net, The Bar Council, The Law Society, Lawyer2b, Gov.UK, and LinkedIn. I would highly recommend creating a calendar outlining application dates for these vacancies so that you have adequate time to draft and perfect. It would also be wise to duplicate this calendar to your personal phone so that you can be reminded – there is nothing worse than missing out on a dream job!
Next, another approach of demonstrating your interest in a specific employer is exhibiting how your own values are aligned to theirs, proving that you will be a good fit for the organisation’s culture. For instance, if the firm or chambers works with a certain charity, it may be wise to take an interest and note in your interview. This could also be done by taking online short courses where your profession specialises on FutureLearn, Coursera, and Forage where they offer many free sessions for students to complete and award participants with a certificate.
During the application period, it would be wise to test yourself against SMART objectives. These stand for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time Bound Goals. By setting goals that keep you focused and motivated towards your future ambitions, you will be able to improve on your own time-management whilst juggling a degree and extracurricular activities. This may be picking up a hobby or volunteering to develop your skills.
Make the most of your Careers Service at university! From my time, I found that booking a mock interview, and rehearing potential questions to be extremely beneficial despite the initial nerves. Through perfecting the powerful narrative of STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) you will build up your confidence when it comes to interview day. Moreover, staying up to date and commercially aware with current affairs and having an awareness of your sector will show your potential employer that you will be able to implement your legal knowledge in practice. I would highly recommend signing up for The Student Lawyer’s Monthly Commercial Awareness Quiz to test yourself.
Lastly, make sure to track your digital footprint online as it will be the first reference when employers research you!
Creating a personal brand for yourself is vital to boost your employability and will provide you with some assurance when networking at career fairs in the future, highlighting your achievements. From utilising platforms such as LinkedIn, becoming visible to a network of professionals will create an avenue for fresh opportunities.