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When Serena Eddy attended one of our open days, she was still unsure if a degree was the right choice. A few years and a first-class degree later, Serena is now a lawyer. Here's her tips for starting a career in law.
Practice psychometric tests online, practice being interviewed, utilise your career department. If you experience set backs, pick yourself up and try again. The monetary burden of training and qualifying as a lawyer is not small. Study part time and keep a job, get a study loan for your Legal Practice Course because this instantly puts you ahead of those waiting for law firm sponsorship. Undertake free work experience (I did my first when I was 16 at a high street firm - you will be amazed how this all adds up over five years). Moving forward, when you do qualify you have to persist with your clients and have persistence and motivation to progress and be promoted. It's a reoccurring theme throughout.
Be yourself: My background and personal circumstances have not stopped me from pursuing my career goals. At one stage at university I was working three part time jobs. I would later find this meant I was highly organised, able to juggle and dedicated. I volunteered, I travelled not because it would look good on my application but because it was a reflection of me and I enjoyed it. If you have a passion share it with them. Allow your personality to show through. All lawyers have to be technically able, it's your ethic, outlook and drivers that sets you apart. You could be the partners of the future.
Get involved in everything you can: It goes without saying, you need good academics. But that said do not be deterred if your grades leave a bit to be desired. I am living proof that you do not need to attend a red brick university to be successful. Get involved in everything extra curricular. Take language classes, coach a team, obtain a qualification in cake decorating, write a blog, anything that sets you apart and that evidences core skills that the industry requires: team player, attention to detail, driven, empathetic etc.
- The hours are long, really long! This is not a 9-5 job.
- Time recording. There are systems to record every six minutes of your time against client matters every six minutes of every day! It's a huge chore.
- Office politics exist! The good the bad and the ugly.
- It doesn't make you a millionaire - contrary to popular belief.
- Being a trainee is a slog. You expect this but, in city firms especially, it is a continuous two year job interview.
That said it is a hugely rewarding career with lots of prospects and is well regarded.
My top three tips for getting the most from your course
Be proactive. I trained to be a Westlaw rep as there wasn't one when I started.
If the lecturers put on career advice seminars, fairs, or talks - go to them.
Join societies, moot and add value to the law school wherever you can.
Browse our Law courses
Lawyer, Irwin Mitchell
Law LLB (Hons)
Serena's career has got off to a flying start and has won a number of prestigious awards for her work.
I currently work with a top 20 full service law firm. Recently, I won Hero of the Month at my firm for my contribution to a large ongoing civil litigation case based out of Saudi Arabia.
After graduating, I won the Oxford University Press Prize for top performing student, as well as the Routledge Cavendish Publishing Prize for Outstanding Academic.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the University; small classes gave it a really personable environment, and the hard work and dedication of the law school has seen it grow in strength, stature and number, which is a great accomplishment.
The people (my peers, flat mates, the lecturers, the alumni, the campus staff, everyone) totally made the experience.
Meet some of our other graduates
Whilst at Birmingham City University, Phillip Sharpe enjoyed a work placement in Texas, and now works with Wilmot & Co Solicitors LLP.
Law LLB graduate Phillip Sharpe was attracted to the course because of the employability on offer, as well as the flexibility. Whilst at Birmingham City University, he carried out a work placement on death penalty cases in Texas, and now works with Wilmot & Co Solicitors LLP.
Koser is a Knowledge Management Attorney for Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP, a leading international law firm.
She did her Legal Practice Course as part of a training contract with Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer. She graduated in 2007 with the highest first in her year. She is now a Knowledge Management Attorney for Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP and General Secretary of the Association of Muslim Lawyers.
Jiordan was awarded a prestigious Lord Denning Scholarship from Lincoln's Inn to support him through the next stage of his legal training.
He was initially attracted to studying law at Birmingham City University by the chance to undertake an internship in the USA. Jiordan built up experience with a number of placements in the UK. His talent was recognised when he was awarded a prestigious Lord Denning Scholarship from Lincoln's Inn.