Siobhan is a paralegal in Shoosmiths’ regulatory team in Birmingham. She shares four things she wishes she’d known earlier in her career, and hopes that her advice will help you to navigate your journey into a law career.
I first embarked on my journey towards a legal career several years ago- 2008 to be precise! In that time, I have learned a lot along the way and also have seen my visions for my path and career morph considerably from what they were on the first day of lectures.
Following the completion of the LPC LLM in 2018, my plans and views of both the industry and my career path have changed considerably. Here are the four things I wish I had known back then.
1. Routes to success aren’t always in straight lines
A barrister once responded with this phrase when I asked him what his best advice was for the future. At the time, I thought it was cryptic and felt silly asking him to elaborate. What I now know is that first of all, I shouldn’t have been afraid to ask him. I initially wanted to become a barrister and joined an Inn and was awarded a scholarship to complete the BPTC. I changed my mind after spending some time in differing firms and finding that the day to day life of a solicitor was more suited to me. My path to where I am today has been far from a straight line- and that is OK.
2. Be open-minded
I spent many years insisting that I would only pursue a career within Legal Aid Criminal Defence work. I also decided that I would not consider larger and more commercial/corporate firms because not only were they ‘not for me’, I felt that I was not a candidate they would be interested in either. I never even considered Regulatory law, mostly because it wasn’t an area that was on my radar. Whilst I enjoyed the criminal defence work I did previously, I also really enjoy the Regulatory work I do now. We work on some high- profile cases and the work is interesting, challenging and often part of a bigger picture. Do not write off types of work or firms that may turn out to be the best fit for you.
3. You do not need to fit a mould
I have heard lots of other candidates saying, “but I am not like the other candidates or what they are looking for” and I understand that because I felt the same. I am 34, have 3 children and have come to the profession later than some. Prior to this I worked in the funeral industry, so have very little legal background. Don’t worry about what others have that you don’t- think about what you can offer. All of your experiences have skills and qualities that you can transfer to your legal career to mean that you can offer a firm something just as special as the next person.
4. Rejection is inevitable
Along the way, you will get a lot of emails explaining ‘you have been unsuccessful’ and this can be disheartening. Ask for feedback where this is offered and work on adding to your experiences so you can strengthen your application for next time. Tailor your applications- consider which firms really may be the best fit for you by looking at the culture, the areas of work, the clients and the people. Above all, remember that perseverance and resilience are as key as the qualifications.
To hear another journey to becoming a trainee solicitor, take a look at our post: 'My journey to becoming a trainee solicitor'.
If you have any further questions about the application process, you can email us at [email protected] or have a look at some frequently asked questions here.