GUEST BLOG: How can you build a career in law?

From an early age many people have it instilled in them to aim for the best jobs they can. In today’s economic climate, competition is fiercer than ever. However, as you are reading this you are already taking the correct steps to invest in your future career. Many people associate studying law with becoming a solicitor, and whilst this is a path many take there are also many other legal sectors that law graduates go into, such as government administration, business and finance.

As you will know, to become a barrister or a solicitor you will need to follow your law degree with a postgraduate vocational course, or a training contract. There are a few things to consider when looking at this. Firstly, is this the job you want? You will have to invest time and money so make sure you are committed, the rewards will be there if you put in the effort. Secondly, are you putting the extra effort in? Not everyone can achieve a degree in law and relevant work experience, but bear in mind others will. In the future when you apply for a legal job and you are shortlisted against another candidate who has voluntary experience in a legal firm, who do you think they are going to pick? Experience is an investment, not free work.

Building up your job prospects in law means that you will have to put in lengthy hours. You need to be prepared to do this to succeed in this field. Great lawyers and barristers have never broken through into a successful career by scraping through. Dedication is vital and if this isn’t within your work ethic then you may need to rethink your career aims.

You are going to have to market yourself as a brand effectively, making sure that you are you are professionally presentable. By “presentable” I’m referring to your online profile, which most, if not all, employers are going to look at no matter which field you intend to work in. Facebook and LinkedIn may both be used by potential employers to analyse who they intend to employ. LinkedIn will help you build up an online résumé and I would actively encourage you to look into that as an online CV. Be wary of anything you are willing to post online in regards to Facebook; if you would not be happy about it being brought to an employer’s attention then do not put it up. It’s also worth adjusting your privacy settings, though bear in mind you could still be visible from other online ‘friends’.

“I’m becoming a lawyer so I can start on £90,000!” Let’s face facts; if you are inexperienced, new to the profession and it is your first job in law then you have only just begun on your career path. As a graduate do not fall into the trap of being a ‘know-it-all’. Use tactful intelligence to develop yourself and build relationships. Communication with others is crucial in the legal area; you must come across as trustworthy and reliable. If you say you will do something then you need to make sure it gets done.

If you don’t see being hardworking, reliable, going beyond the call of duty as the most basic normalities for a career in law, then it’s time for a rethink.

This is a guest post, by Matt Jones, on behalf of Pannone, a Manchester law firm whose services include Personal Injury and Medical Negligence.