LLBs, GDLs and the ‘better lawyer’ question

Ed Lines

It’s a fairly standard Open Day question. “I want to be a lawyer, should I do a law degree or a degree in [other subject] and then a conversion course?”. My usual line here is that three years of an undergraduate degree is a long time and that, all else equal, you should do the subject you think you are going to enjoy the most. I may also make some fairly general remarks about employability, and the different preferences of different legal employers when it comes to the LLB and GDL routes. I don’t recall these conversations ever moving on to the question of which route ‘produces’ better lawyers.

That issue has had another airing recently following the suggestion of Lord Sumption, Justice of the Supreme Court, that an undergraduate law degree was the less desirable option. His remarks around this suggestion merit some consideration.

Lawyering and culture

The report…

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My Guide to Networking

For me personally, networking has first and foremost increased my confidence.

Networking is often a daunting prospect for undergraduates. The idea of making conversation and coming across well to successful people, who you know will be judging you, can be extremely intimidating. However, the most important thing I have learnt throughout my networking experiences is that everybody is human. Now, this may seem obvious but realising this is instrumental to successful networking. By keeping this in mind you can relax and actually get to know the person you are meeting and work on building relationships.

Here are a few more points to keep in mind when networking:Image

1. Organise your time and plan ahead. This requires a wall planner as seen above or diary. These days with the internet, there is an abundance of events you can attend either set up by your University or individual firms. It is crucial to schedule these in so you can keep on top of everything and make sure you are not taking too much on.

2.Variety is key. You do not have to limit yourself to only law events. Attending finance based events and other events set up by large companies can also be a useful way of building ‘commercial awareness’ and building your network. Keep an open mind as opportunities can arise from anywhere!

3. Plan what it is you want from the event and be confident. For an example, as I am applying for training contracts I know a common question is about what the firm does. Therefore, I always ask trainees about what they are working on at the moment and if there is anything of particular interest. Be aware however a little prior research is also useful in this instance to ensure you are able to have a two way conversation!

4. Dress smartly. This is pretty generic but a must. I find for us girls this can be harder as the harsh reality is we are so often judged on what we look like. I usually opt for a pencil skirt and chiffon high neck top and blazer. Heels are optional. I will do another post dedicated to this topic with pictures soon so watch this space 😉

5. Be bold. This means don’t hold back. If there is a speaker who’s presentation you particularly enjoyed, don’t cower in the background afterwards, go and tell them you enjoyed it! People really appreciate it when they can see you have the confidence to approach them with ease. I would strongly advise against being a lone soldier at events. I attend many on my own but I make sure I meet other students and guests whilst there. Sometimes even networking with other attendees can be useful!

6. Take a notepad. What I do is, after approaching somebody and talking to them, I try to obtain a business card or some further contact information. Then, I go and find somewhere out of the way and make a brief note about the person i.e their name, organisation (sometimes even what they looked like!); key things we discussed; and contact details. I also store business cards in this book. This is really helpful for later on if you want to remind yourself of people you have met and if you want to include them in applications or if you just want to contact them again.

7. Follow up. This is absoloutly vital. Even if it is to say thank you, this is very good practice. By contacting people after the event the person can see that you are serious and you can continue to build relationships. Depending on how the initial meeting went you may even be able to organize another meeting over coffee or at their office. NB. Do use your common sense in such situations. Never ask to meet up if you barely talked for two minutes at the original event!

These few steps really helped me out and I hope they help you too!

Let us begin with a story.

Napoleon.

You have all most probably heard of him & you are all most probably wondering what on earth he has to do with my blog, which is meant to provide you with an insight into the challenges I have taken on and experiences I have encountered on my journey to becoming a future lawyer.

Well, I believe a story relating to this iconic figure may, let’s say, inspire you.

If it does not, I suggest you delve no deeper into my blog. This story embodies the essence of my philosophy and the posts you will find on here will largely be a result of such thinking.

 The story goes something like this:

Napoleon, like many of his contemporaries, often consulted the practice of palmistry in order to discover his fate. Yet this belief was to be short lived. It is said in his early life he went to a palm reader and asked ‘Am I destined to be powerful?’, to which the reader rather bluntly told him that it was impossible – he was lacking the ‘line’ associated with power and success.

Enraged by what he heard Napoleon drew out his sword and carved a strong, deep line into his palm.

 

Whether this story has any truth in it or is purely myth is a whole other debate. But what is crucial about this is his willingness to actively pave his destiny.

We are all responsible in shaping our future and we must all take active actions to secure our futures.

What I am trying to say is, a career in law , especially in this current climate laden with high claibre graduates, it is extremely difficult to secure. These days a good 2:1 or a1st degree is simply not enough . The amount of people I know with a decent degree (as I am sure you do too) struggling to begin their careers is frightening. This to me says that in order to be a cut above the rest, you will require immense dedication and hard work.

I am working towards shaping my future. Not by passively hoping that one day it will work out but by literally working my a** off.

Whether this pays off or not we shall see as this is only the beginning. But I believe this attitude is integral to success.

I hope to inspire you with what I do, provide you with tips and I invite you to share my journey.