There is no perfect route into law, if there was we would all be robots (a misconception the general public seem to have anyway!) If you talk to any two Howes Percival Trainees they will have had a different route into their dream job. Every route into law offers a range of different experiences, perspectives and skills that all lead to becoming a great lawyer. I have focussed on having not done a law degree, because well, that’s exactly what my ‘different’ route was.
I studied BSc Physiology (a fancy way of saying Human Biology) before studying a law conversion course and then the LPC. Having a background in science gave me invaluable skills as a lawyer. During my BSc you could find me wearing a white lab coat and goggles experimenting with chemicals or any number of microorganisms, or running up and down the stairs testing my heart rate and blood sugar after taking different amounts of glucose tablets; you would never have found me in the library. Sounds the opposite of most law students, right? Well it was! It did however give me a niche skill set of analysis, investigation and the ability to draw conclusions from a vast amount of data. These skills are completely transferable to studying and practising law.
When I decided I wanted to convert to law, I didn’t just fall into it, I was driven to succeed and prove my ability. I certainly wasn’t used to having to spend hours upon hours reading but I did know how to digest that information and come to a sensible conclusion. It also made sure I honed skills of translating legal jargon into easily digestible and understandable examples. A skill that is key in giving the client the best experience.
So you haven’t studied law? Fantastic! We don’t want you to be the ‘typical candidate’. We want you to have a different skill set to everyone else and we want to see how that will translate into you becoming a great lawyer.
That being said, show us those skills in your application and how they will help you. To help with that here are some quick tips for showing that a degree that ranges from Geology to German or Mathematics to Microbology can be relevant to being a Trainee Solicitor.
1. Recognise and showcase your skills that your degree subject gave you
Every degree will give you a different set of skills. Think about what skills yours gave you (the scientists out there have some of the answers above) and relate them to law. Be proud of your degree and show it off.
2. Be prepared for unusual questions
No application process would be complete without an odd question (this might be at the interview stage). Your degree is your gem. Did you do anything strange (it probably wasn’t strange during your degree) that will stand out? For me it was manipulating the genetics of fruit flies. Totally irrelevant to law you say? That particular experiment gave me skills in data handling and interpretation, perseverance (do you know how small fruit flies are?) and team work. All of which are vital in a legal environment. Did you do some research that is slightly perverse or relevant? Draw the box and step outside of it.
3. Think it through
Don’t go gun-ho into a question without really thinking through what you want to say and how you want to say it. Most questions have a maximum word limit for answers. You need to be precise. Most firms will ask about your hobbies etc. How does your unusual degree relate to your hobbies and interests and how can that relate to the job? A lot of firms will want to know what makes you stand out? Easy answer… you aren’t a law student. Make a point of explaining why this gives you a unique skill set.
4. Do your research
Have a look at what the firm you are applying to does, who their clients are and what they specialise in. Does any of that fit with your background? Can you offer a perspective to their work that they might be missing? Try and squeeze those sorts of tidbits into your answers.
5. Don’t only mention your degree
I know this blog focusses on mentioning your degree, but please prove to us that you did something outside of studying.
6. Don’t be a robot!
Please, whatever you do, do not ask yourself the question ‘If I had done a law degree what would I say’. As I have already said, think through the question, but answer as yourself. If your personality shines through, we are much more likely to progress your application.
Hopefully I have given all you non-law students a bit of encouragement to apply and give it a go. You can get more hints and tips by looking at the Junior Lawyer Blog section on our website and following Howes Percival’s Trainees on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.
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