THE BLOG
19/10/2011 12:21 BST | Updated 18/12/2011 05:12 GMT

How do you Become a Lawyer? You Need Work Experience. Period.

Information is coming thick and fast now, at the end of lectures today we had what can only be described as a "law information for the under 5s", which was packaged as career advice for postgraduate students.

Information is coming thick and fast now, at the end of lectures today we had what can only be described as a "law information for the under 5s", which was packaged as career advice for postgraduate students.

I will do my utmost to get across some of the utter pointlessness, lack of insight, and sheer crapness of the advice on offer, and mirror it with my own experience to give you, the reader/casual browser some useful law career advice.

Coming firstly to what you can do with your shiny new GDL certificate... Solicitor? Barrister? Or Other? Yes, that's rights ladies and gentlemen, you've just spent thousands of pounds and time on training to become 'other'... it gets better, we were provided with examples: use your new conversion to law qualification to join an IT department, why not try marketing, perhaps accountancy is for you?

If you're a careers adviser, know your audience.

Next, and this got me the most angry, how does one become a lawyer (assuming 'other' doesn't appeal)? You need to get work experience. That was all the advice we were given, you need work experience. No how, or why, or what or when... just that you need some. Period.

I work in a local solicitors office one day a week, work for the Citizens Advice Bureau one day a week, have done one mini pupillage with two more in the next two months and have a week shadowing at another local solicitors firm next week. From my own experience, this is how you can get work experience:

First things first, get that CV sorted, update it, tidy it up, and make yourself look good - it sounds simple, but it can easily be over looked. Get a friend to double check it.

Secondly, apply, apply, apply, apply, and apply. From my own experience, it takes a minimum thirty applications for work experience to land one response. Timing is everything, there are a number of firms and chambers that offer experience on a first come first serve basis so have a good look around at every firm/chambers website.

It may sound silly, but it pays to build up a rapport with some firms. This can be readily done by contacting the recruitment department of your desired firm, talking about what you have to offer, and asking what they look for in a potential trainee. Some firms will simply direct you to the info on their website; others will take 5 minutes to describe to you what they're after. Thank them for taking the time to respond and explain that you feel you have all the skills they need (enclose a CV) and politely enquire into work experience, this will have dramatically more success in getting experience than a copy & pasted cover letter and CV.

Ensure that you keep those recruiters, who took the time to get back to you, updated with any success in your education, any awards (academic, mooting, essay writing) or similar.

Build yourself an online profile, as almost all lawyers are online these days and you'll get the chance to see the things they tweet. It's usually rubbish, but every once in a while is a link to some experience or similar that their firm/a friends firm might be offering.

Moreover, if you blog, they can see the sort of work you output - just remember to keep it clean and relevant. Even try LinkedIn, you never know which law recruiters peruse these sites.

Finally, as I've totally run out of words, don't just think 'law firms', charities can be the source of experience you need; be it in advocacy, advise, case work, or similar they offer fantastic opportunities for law students.

Hope that helps.