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Help please - research on legal careers for novel

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TSR's new app is coming! Sign up here to try it first >> 17-10-2016
    • Thread Starter

    Hi everyone,

    This is a bit of a random request, but I am writing a novel in which my heroine is a law graduate (LLB). I am a graduate in a different subject area altogether, so would be really grateful for any advice and/or ideas from people studying law or aspiring to a career in law.

    In brief, the heroine is strongly motivated to help others and fight for the 'underdogs' of this life. She spent her work experience shadowing a solicitor working within a housing charity and was bowled over by the work, managing cases of people who had become homeless and vulnerable, perhaps recently released from prison, etc. (This part is still just an idea too)

    However, she goes on to graduate in law but several years later has still not made it into a law career due to various life issues. Firstly she was unable to study for the GDL (Graduate Law Diploma) which she knows she needs if she's going to go anywhere in law. Secondly, for various reasons she had to stay within a certain area to work, meaning her choice of jobs is limited, and she ends up settling for something close to, but not quite, in line with her dreams. And this is where I get stuck!

    I am thinking an administrative or support role within a legal team at a charity - so she consoles herself knowing the work she does indirectly contributes to the charity's work, but still yearns to be more on the 'coal face' helping people directly.

    Can anyone help with some more specifics, ie. what types of role like this exist and a brief summary of what kind of work it would involve?

    Thanks so much!

    If she was a law graduate she wouldn't be doing the GDL. The GDL is a conversion course for those that haven't done law as an undergrad.

    Both i. law undergrads and, ii. those who have done a non-law undergrad plus the GDL, must do the LPC (legal practice course) after their university studies. So I think you mean she knows she needs to do the LPC if she is going to go anywhere in law!

    The above post is correct. As a law graduate she would not do the GDL. If she wanted to be a solicitor she would do the Legal Practice Course (LPC). If she wanted to be a barrister she would do the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC). It sounds like for your purposes you'd want the former.*

    In terms of the role, the majority of legal teams, whether as part of a firm of solicitors or in house with a larger organisation, would have support roles to varying degrees. With a degree she would be able to become a paralegal, which could certainly see her assisting more senior solicitors on cases. The role of a paralegal can vary significantly from firm to firm. They can do anything from pretty much admin support to running their own cases. Other roles could include a legal secretary, who would very much be on the admin/PR side of things but would gain knowledge of these cases by association, which could fit for your purposes.

    Alternatively your heroine could become a personal assistant either to a senior solicitor or a senior barrister. In that sense she could again do a variety of different things within that assistant role, but could be kept at a frustrating distance from the 'coalface'. I'm not really aware of PA roles for senior solicitors, as they tend to be assisted by other solicitors, paralegals and legal secretaries, but it would be a feasible role for the purposes of a fiction novel. Many senior barristers (mostly QCs) so actually have assistants now, albeit they are sought after roles and not something you can really fall in to, but again that sort of role could work for the purposes of your novel. *
    • Thread Starter

    Thank you so much both of you for your replies - yes, the LPC is what I meant!! I had read about both but got confused between the two. She needs to do the LPC but can't as she has moved to a remote location as a requirement of her partner's work, and there is nowhere nearby offering the course, plus the fact she needs to work to cover the enormous mortgage they've just taken out.

    Crazy Jamie - thank you so much for your suggestions. Just before reading your reply I was already thinking her job could be something along the lines of admin support to the legal team working within a large charity - so it is something fairly close to her dreams, but no cigar.

    The job isn't a major part of the story as she is only working there right at the beginning then goes off and does something else (and ends up properly following her dreams right at the end). But I need the introductory references to her work to be credible, and I just don't know enough about this area. So any more help would be appreciated! (I.e. anyone in this sort of role, or something similar, who could give me a very brief 'day in the life of'?) I just need to throw in a few references to some tasks she's been carrying out right at the beginning, along with her frustration at being unable to progress.

    Thank you!!
    • Thread Starter

    Further to my last post... I've been thinking, it could also be a paralegal role to support a solicitor who works particularly in an area involving the defense of vulnerable people. For example, people in desperate need of housing whose applications have been turned down by the local authorities or who have been evicted unlawfully from their homes.

    Could anyone help out with any slightly more concrete examples of the kind of work I refer to above... housing related or otherwise?

    My heroine could, for example, be involved in the initial client interviews, note taking etc. while the solicitor assesses their suitability to be represented - but not actually have any say in their representation, and be left wishing she could have helped more.

    So grateful for any help.
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