We have all heard the phrase “any publicity is good publicity” but I would also say the same is true for “experience”. I think there can sometimes be a misconception that firms are only interested in your legal work experience and not all the other types of work you may have previously undertaken. I have to say that was definitely not true for me and many other trainees I know.
Now, do not get me wrong, legal work experience is a great thing to have on your CV and it will be a great conversational starter when it comes to training contract assessment days and interviews. Any experience in a law firm whether it be a paralegal role, work experience or shadowing, allows you to give a truthful account of the things you liked/disliked and how that helped you decide which firm was right for you, all whilst highlighting your commitment to a career in law.
However, legal work experience can sometimes be difficult to come by. Alternatively, many people do have part-time jobs or have volunteered at some point throughout their education or may have had an entirely different profession before deciding to become a lawyer! These all have great transferable skills that you can talk about when applying for training contracts.
My top 3 tips for utilising the skills gained from other work experience are as follows:
1. Law firms are businesses
Ever worked for a business? Great! You can impress your assessors by telling them about a certain sales target you reached, or a time you got a great deal for a customer or saved them lots of money. It’s an opportunistic time to demonstrate your commercial awareness with an interesting real life work example that can set you apart from other candidates and show you understand the current challenges that are affecting businesses.
2. Customer service is key
Dealing with customers in any setting can be a challenge and learning to adapt your approach to people from all walks of life is a great way to prepare yourself for dealing with clients. At Howes Percival we act for some fantastic large companies and it is important to remember your main point of contact will still probably be another individual who will be expecting nothing but exceptional customer service. Consider a time you have gone that extra mile for a customer and what result you achieved.
3. Ever worked a busy Christmas period?
For me, the Christmas period always presented a unique challenge where customers could be particularly demanding. You and your colleagues would be working harder than ever and you needed to remain professional and efficient no matter what the circumstances entailed (including people stealing turkeys from other people’s trolleys on Christmas Eve). Take those skills you have acquired - remaining calm, paying close attention to detail and being a solid team player and think about how you could apply them to a high pressure business deal or a tight court deadline.
Finally, when it comes to finding legal work experience, my last little nugget of knowledge would be to network, network and network! Howes Percival Trainees often attend Law Fairs, Pro-Bono events and various community events all throughout the year. You can keep up to date and find out how to meet us by looking at the Key Dates on our website and following Howes Percival’s Trainees on LinkedIn,Facebook and Twitter.