The Work I Complete Each Week

Last week I was ill with a stomach bug and ended up being off of work for 2 and a half days. While I was wallowing in self-pity I started thinking about what I would have been doing if I was at work and thought it would be a good idea to write about the kind of things I typically do to give you guys a taste of what to expect.

Before I get started, please remember that I work in a relatively small high street firm and this post is based on my experience only. Different Companies will require you to complete different tasks and working at, for example, work at a large international firm is of course going to be a lot different to what I do. It also depends on what seats you are completing. (I know a lot of that is obvious, but I wanted to make it clear)

Admin

There is a lot of admin to be done during each week. This can be anything from completing stationery orders, to photocopying, to setting up a congestion charge account for one of the Solicitors (random I know, but this did happen). Even 7 months in I’m still doing more admin than I’d like to and I’m sure I’ll be doing so until I qualify.

I think this comes as a surprise for a lot of people because they start with the expectation that they will be doing legal work from the outset. It took a month or two for me to get my first proper file that I would be able to see through to the end, not because I wasn’t capable, but because you have to prove you are willing to do the less important (and less fun!) jobs before you are given the responsibility of doing legal work. Luckily for me, my first legal job was as a Paralegal at a small law firm and involved a huge amount of admin work (including entering addresses into my boss’s SatNav), so I was quite used to this when I started my Training Contract.

Other Trainees I have spoken to have said their whole Training Contract is admin work and all they end up doing is photocopying and making teas/coffees.

It’s hard to predict how much admin you will end up doing, but my advice is to be prepared to do a lot and also be prepared to do some pretty weird things that will probably leave you wondering if you’re in the right profession.

Legal Work

Obviously legal work is the reason we all do Training Contracts – the idea being it will train us to a suitable level before qualifying as solicitors.

The legal work I carry out each week varies, sometimes it is difficult and sometime it’s relatively simple. As I said above, it will also depend on the seat you are in, although I must say, working in a small high street firm means I generally do not stick to one seat at a time. Sometimes I’ll do matrimonial and property work in the same week.

Typically, a lot of the legal work I do involves drafting petitions/claim forms, researching legal areas and drafting letters to explain the research I’ve done. I have also drafted written resolutions and board minutes (business law – yuck!) without having any prior knowledge of how to do this, with the exception of what I learnt while studying the LPC.

As I am currently working in the matrimonial department I mostly draft divorce petitions, write letters to the other side’s solicitors, complete Form Es (can be very time-consuming) and I have previously drafted a consent order from scratch on a file I barely knew. I am also required to draft instructions to counsel, liaise with counsel’s clerks and arrange conferences.

 

As with most jobs, some weeks can be pretty hectic, while others can be very quiet. You should expect to do a lot of different work, some you’ll be comfortable with and some will require a lot of thought and effort. You can also expect to be doing things you never thought you would do during your Training Contract. However, I would advise you to keep your head down, do the best you can do and enjoy yourself! You’ll learn more than you ever did at university or law school and, at the end of the day, it will be worth it. The two years will fly by (at least, that’s what I keep telling myself!)

I hope this has given you a quick insight into the life of a Trainee and, as always, if you have any questions feel free to get in contact with me via the comments or the contact page.

Law vs Non-Law Degree

A-Level results have just been released and all students who have just finished at College or Sixth Form will now be embarking on the next phase of their lives; whether that be University, working, travelling or taking time out to figure out what they would actually like to do in the future. Some may already know that they would like to have a career in Law and some have probably not even considered it.

It does not necessarily matter if you have decided to study Law at University or not and I think it’s a good idea to briefly explore each of these options.

 

1. Study a Law Degree

Undergraduate Law degrees are 3 years (or 4 with a placement year) and many graduates will go on to study the Legal Practice Course (LPC), once they’ve finished. The LPC takes one year to complete, if studied full-time, but there are many different ways of studying it. For example, you can study it part-time, evenings only or weekends only.

Of course, in the meantime you should be looking for a Training Contract and should, preferably, start looking in your second year as many Companies recruit two years in advance.

Writing it here makes it sound very simple, but completing your undergraduate degree will require a lot of hard work and sacrifices (sorry, but some Fridays you won’t be able to go to the University club with your friends!).

I think this is the most direct way to start your legal career and eventually qualify as a Solicitor. It can be pretty costly, but is more cost and time effective than studying a non-law degree.

2. Study a Non-Law Degree

Studying Law at University is not the only way one can start on their path to become a Solicitor. People who have studied a non-law undergraduate degree can decide they would like to change direction. If this is the case for you, you will need to complete the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL), which is a conversion course and usually takes one year to complete.

If you have studied a non-law degree and decide you would like to pursue a career in law, don’t worry, you can still do it. In fact, when I studied the LPC, I found that a lot of people I met had completed the GDL and many of those had  History degrees.

Many employers now actively look for candidates who have completed a non-law degree as they will have gained a different set of skills and are actually showing a commitment to Law by deciding to start on a whole different path from the one they originally started on.

As I said above, this is not the most cost or time effective route, but it is reassuring to know that studying a non-law degree is not the end of any hope of starting a legal career. It is also quite nice to know that you do not have to study for another 3/4 years to complete your law degree on top of the one you already have!

 

So,whether you study Law at University or not, there are plenty of options available to you. If you do decide to study Law, you do not necessarily have to pursue a legal career, just as you are not barred from a legal career by studying a non-law degree.

I have kept this quite brief, and there are many different options and legal career paths to explore, but I hope this has helped clear it up for some of you. If you have any further questions, please get in contact by leaving a comment below, or by getting in touch on my contact page!

My very first blog post – an intro

Hi everyone!

This is my first ever blog post and I’m excited to get started.

A little introduction; I’m currently 24 years old and I completed my LLB Law degree in 2013, achieving a 2:1 classification. After the summer break I immediately started the Legal Practice Course on a full-time basis and achieved a commendation in 2014.

From there, I started my first ever legal role as a paralegal in a very small firm in SW London. I was continuously looking for Training Contracts but was aware that I did not have much experience and there were plenty of others out there who were better than me in terms of both grades and experience. However, I managed to secure a Training Contract in December 2015 and began my role at a small high street firm at the beginning of February 2016.

I know first hand how hard it is to obtain that elusive Training Contract and I would like to pass any knowledge I have on to other people to help them through that process and, perhaps, make life a little easier for them.

As I sometimes work quite long hours, I’m not sure how much I will be able to blog but I am hoping to do so at least once a week. I’m hoping to provide you guys with advice, tips and stories throughout my training contract.

Anyway, I hope you guys will enjoy my blog* and if you have any questions or queries please let me know by leaving a comment on this post, or by using the contact page!

 

*I am new to blogging and will be changing the blog as I go along. It’s a work in progress.