Careers series for Law Students: Part 1 – Solicitor, Barrister or…neither?

During your time at university it is often difficult to know when you *really* need to start thinking about what is next.
What steps do I need to take to achieve my dreams? How do I make my CV and/or applications stand out from everyone else’s? How do I prepare for interviews? What skills do I need to improve or make shine?
The questions go on…

The legal profession is competitive, it has so many hurdles to clear and just looking at what you have to do to reach your goals can seem a daunting prospect. So I hope to help by offering my advice in a series of blog posts on my personal experiences of my law career journey so far, sharing resources that have helped me and anecdotes that have encouraged me to keep aiming high even when the going gets tough.

In my first blog in the series I will discuss making the often difficult decision between the traditional solicitor or barrister route, or whether to veer off the traditional route altogether and go for something completely different. The options are endless with such a diverse degree, and firstly I want you to know that it is ok to not have made up your mind yet! I am sharing my advice based on what has helped me, in the hopes it may help someone else.

As an English law student, my course is 3 years (instead of 4 years for Scottish law or Dual Qualifying students) and so I had to start thinking about these things far sooner than I had expected to. Having friends on the other law courses made me feel wayyy out of my depth at first. While they were focusing on revision and assignments, I was having to learn how to write a legal CV while researching constantly which area of law I wanted to go into, and whether I wanted to be a solicitor or barrister. Woah it has been a lot.

Some resources that I have found extremely helpful in aiding me with my decision between solicitor, barrister or alternative route:

Bright Network:
Offers career advice through workshops, often appearing at law fair events (I found their Training Contract application workshop really helpful, it gave an informative insight into what firms are looking for and how to stand out from the rest). They also advertise career opportunities from top employers both in the legal sector and in many other sectors. Subscribing to their email list you will hear about opportunities from employers such as J.P. Morgan, Amazon, Ashurst, Goldman Sachs, PWC, Slaughter and May etc.
A great starting point in your legal career journey. So much career advice available through their website, and helpful and informative webinars on up to date relevant topics in the legal sector. They offer advice to law students but also non-law students seeking a career in the legal sector. Really keeps you up to date on opportunities.

Aspiring Solicitors:
An amazing organisation offering opportunities to those who in the past may have found it significantly more difficult to get into the legal sector with the aim to “increase diversity in the legal profession”. They provide events, mentoring, competitions and employability assistance to widen access to the legal profession.
Offers advice not only on where to start when looking into becoming a solicitor or barrister as a law or non-law graduate, but also offers lists of alternative career routes for law graduates! They help with CV tips and links to vacation scheme or pupillage applications that are available, as well as their deadlines.

The Lawyer Portal:
I love their Instagram page which offers snippets of advice and personal anecdotes from law students, graduates and partners in what to expect with application processes or why they chose the path they have and how you can achieve it too.

What the Lawyer? (Instagram):
Another Instagram page I have found super helpful, laying everything out literally in black and white. Perfectly sized amounts of information on pretty much every area of law you can think of wanting to specialise in, explaining the pros and cons of each and how to get into them. Their post on “Barrister or solicitor?” is a great read to find out which option is really for you.

@tamsinslawlife (Instagram):
This girl shares her experiences on Instagram on route to becoming a barrister. Studying the BPC and LLM, giving the perfect insight into what it takes to study and train to become a barrister.

Legal cheek:
Tonnes of student events and law fairs throughout the year, especially throughout the pandemic, I have found their virtual law fairs so insightful and helpful in figuring out what I want to do next and how I can get there.

There are so many options out there and alternative career opportunities for law students, you just have to do a little research and find out what really suits you best. Get some experience and attend insight days, even if they are virtual.

It is difficult right now to get in person experience but in my next blog I will share how to bulk out your CV and get some legal experience during the pandemic…there are more opportunities than you think!

Written by:

Hi! My name is Catherine and I'm a second year English/NI Law student. This is my second year living here in Dundee and I can't wait to share my experiences with you. Whether you are thinking of coming to the university or are already here, I hope you enjoy reading!

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