Article written by Imaan Siddiqui, University of Bradford, Third year LLB with Business and Management Student.
Law is usually taken at university for various reasons. Some students aim to pursue a legal career after LLB by becoming barristers, solicitors, or legal chartered executives etc. However, many opt to study law at university due to indecisiveness. Many students have no idea as to what they really would like to become after graduation. This leads to 3 or 4 years, if on placement, on a road of confusion and ambiguity.
Universities aim to prepare students through many different ways including skill-based modules and by inviting guest speakers. Guest speakers usually talk about their own career journeys in order to inspire and advise students about potential careers, which help students find the right career path. Research and work experience are usually the ways that help in shaping career decisions, which can also help applications to stand out. Below are listed ways which students should adopt to choose the right career path. Many tips are also given.
Students should aim to gain as much experience as they possibly can. This also involves opportunities which the students do not consider pursuing in the future. Aspiring barristers are required to undertake mini-pupillages, marshalling, pro-bono and also visit the courts. Aspiring solicitors are encouraged to undertake vacation schemes, work experience in law firms, and advice centres. These are some opportunities which students can undertake, in addition to many others, to gain a competitive edge. It will also help in shaping applications and to make an informed choice about the right career path.
However, students should also aim to gain experience in their law societies by participating in competitions and volunteering. Part time jobs can also prove to be very beneficial due to transferable skills. Such opportunities help students enhance their confidence levels and provide examples through a variety of different experiences. Therefore, through legal and non-legal work experiences and internships, students can prove to be a valuable candidate.
A note for aspiring lawyers, mock vacation schemes are also on offer. The Walker Morris mock vacation scheme is an example. This can prove to be a valuable opportunity to understand the way aspiring solicitors are chosen based on assessment centres and interviews. As mentioned earlier, students, regardless of their desired route, should aim to gain as much experience as they possibly can without leaving the ones specific to certain routes. This helps in gaining clarity and can prove to be the deciding point in terms of career change.
This is the most important factor when choosing the right career. Self-awareness is the key in making sure one does not regret their career route. For example, aspiring barristers require immense dedication in order to research and apply to various chambers for pupillage. This is a highly competitive field and involves a constant cycle of reapplying, if faced with rejections. Once accepted onto pupillage, there are many examples of candidates who have realised that this effort went in vain as being a barrister is not what they still would like to do. Students usually plan and prepare for a career that one knows little of. Regardless of hours of research, it is not possible to actually understand the upsides and downsides of a career until one gains a lot of work experience in, knows someone in that field, or has been part of it themselves.
Regret can only be prevented through self-analysis, which comes from being self-aware. This can be achieved through understanding one’s strengths and weaknesses. If a student struggles to ask questions by volunteering themselves in front of the class or struggles to present in front of the class, it is difficult for that student to become a barrister. Barristers require the skill of public speaking. Aspiring barristers need to enjoy the process of mooting and debating. Therefore, through the process of self-analysis, if a student understands that they fear public speaking, it is less likely they can become a barrister.
Students can take many tests online such as the Myer-Briggs test and the multiple personality test to understand their skillset. Thinking back to school, students can also identify their behavioural traits and find their strengths. These can involve sketching, painting, or even sports. People are born with certain skills and these should be identified. However, certain skills can be developed if one truly works on it. For example, if one does not work well in a group, being a solicitor might not be the right career path but taking part in group activities more frequently might help. It is important a student acknowledges their weaknesses and improves these if they really want to become what they have chosen.
Graduating with an LLB degree opens up many different paths. From accounting, media, and sports, to the legal profession, students can use their skillset to their advantage. As mentioned at the start, many students do not know what they truly want to be and therefore, work experience and self-analysis are the most crucial steps that need to be taken. Every person has a unique set of traits and is born to do something unique. It does not matter whether one becomes a lawyer or a banker, for example, but what truly matters is that one becomes successful in their chosen field. Students should avoid choosing careers based on salaries, incentives, fame, or even family pressures. You should choose a career you can imagine pursuing for the rest of your life.