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    Hi there,

    I'm 28 and always wanted to be a lawyer up until the age of 17 when I had a life changing accident and decided to pursue economics instead.

    I got a decent 2.1 in economics from Southampton (RG) and have 3 As at A-level (english, history, maths).

    I did an internship at big 4 and took a grad job offer with them, did a year and left to join the civil service fast stream as an economist. Spent 3 years at various departments (MoJ, MoD and Home Office) and recently moved to a regulator on promotion.

    The urge to study and pursue a career in law just won't subside and has sprung up for various reasons over the last 4 years...even when doing my degree 5, 6, 7 years ago...it feels like my brain is made to do it and always has been, friends/family/teachers always said I'd make a great lawyer and I regret not pursuing it.

    I'm earning more now than I would earn on a training contract, let alone having to forego income while studying for GDL and LPC so it isn't about money either...

    My question is how should I go about it?

    My preference is to obtain a training contract that will fund GDL and LPC. Will my lack of legal experience be a hinderance? Will much value be placed on my prior experience? Should I look for vacation schemes first or can I go straight for a training contract?

    My aim is to get into a mid-tier city law firm ideally. I may try some magic circle though I appreciate that is perhaps too big an ask...

    In my current role I work with lawyers (helping them assess the impact of their work) which is the latest catalyst for my yearning...I find their work far more interesting than my own...

    Working in government my job has been centred around legislation (assessing economic impacts of) and regulation (assessing impacts on business), so don't feel I am going in blind and am certain it is what I want to do. Would this experience be useful evidence of legal experience? It's not corporate law granted...

    Advice much appreciated.

    Ryan
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    Nothing to stop you applying at all. Your lack of legal experience is not really an issue if you have other work experience that demonstrates the skills needed and the rest of your application is strong (which it sounds like it is from what you have said).

    Maybe apply for some open days as a first step. Consider taking some annual leave to complete a vac scheme (although you have unfortunately missed the deadlines for many of the winter ones). Maybe get in touch with Aspiring Solicitors to see if you can become a member and apply to the networking events they run with firms.

    Also look out for career changer events - one of the US firms used to run one, and there is an annual networking event through the Law Society.

    Yes you can apply directly for a TC, but why would you when you have an opportunity to see inside the firm and work out of it is the right place for you to work.

    Nothing you have said means the MC is out of reach. In fact I think some of them would be very interested in a profile such as yours - although that's based on the very basic information you have presented.


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    Thanks for the reply. Really helpful.

    Certainly not averse to.open days/vacation schemes, just wasn't sure if that would delay things by a year and conscious of my age...

    As for magic circle I thought I'd probably need a first and a clear focus on law rather than working elsewhere.

    I did go to an open day at taylor wessing and really liked them. Did a practice group activity and a presentation that I enjoyed and really liked the vibe of the firm but that was back in 2014 (the last time I seriously considered a change).

    Thanks,
    Ryan
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    (Original post by montyr)
    Thanks for the reply. Really helpful.

    Certainly not averse to.open days/vacation schemes, just wasn't sure if that would delay things by a year and conscious of my age...

    As for magic circle I thought I'd probably need a first and a clear focus on law rather than working elsewhere.

    I did go to an open day at taylor wessing and really liked them. Did a practice group activity and a presentation that I enjoyed and really liked the vibe of the firm but that was back in 2014 (the last time I seriously considered a change).

    Thanks,
    Ryan
    The open days/vac schemes are not going to delay the process. If anything they could speed it up. You just need to start looking for these opportunities now as you are already 2 months behind most applicants.

    Worst myth out there that MC firms expect a first - vast majority of their trainees won't have one. They wouldn't fill their intakes if they had that approach.

    I've worked for MC firms and nothing you have said has made me say it's out of your reach. In fact I recruited people with a similar profile to you. There's a lot of other important things they would be looking for in an applicant though.

    The only thing I would potentially have concern about is your career motivation - some might question why this route now (why not earlier?). But that can easily be dealt with a good application that has clear motivational answers.


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    This is exactly what I have just done. Civil Service fast stream, got promoted to G7, and now have a TC with a mid-size/specialist international City firm (I didn't apply to MC because I already had a strong idea of the kind of work I wanted to do on qualification, and the MC don't really do it. Similarly I have very little interest in domestic finance/M&A). I start the GDL in January.

    Without knowing your career history in detail, I guarantee that you have a lot of transferable skills and relevant experience. Especially with the departments you've worked in.

    I would be more than happy to discuss my experience, and the kind of questions I was asked at interview etc (particularly on motivation - JSP is absolutely bang on that you'll be asked why, why now, and why not sooner. There will also be a lot about going back to the bottom of the pile and taking orders from people a lot younger than you with arguably less life experience). Just drop me a PM.

    One issue you are may have though, is that as a civil servant you are likely to be prohibited from undertaking other paid employment without the permission of your home department. This meant I couldn't do a VS, and could only apply directly for a TC. This ultimately wasn't a problem, and I explained this to HR representatives at law fairs, who almost invariably said they fully understood but that I should email them to let them know I had applied to avoid being lost in the quagmire of direct TC applications. You will also want to consider the business appointment rules - I had to have my TC acceptance approved by my Perm Sec (though this wasn't a major issue). The difficulty is disclosing your hand while still employed - I already had an offer in hand before I went through the BAR, but had to do this before accepting my TC.
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    Thanks for the replies. Very helpful.

    I have started to look for open days etc. Re: VS that isn't something I had considered so something to bear in mind.

    As far as why law and why now...the below pretty much sums it up:

    Essentially I want to pursue law because it is the profession that best fits my natural skills, and was the career I had always wanted to pursue but for an accident that left me in a wheelchair causing me to question that choice... Ever since then I have been considering law and have decided to pursue it now as I have realised that I am never going to get the level of satisfaction from my current career that I would get from law. Moreover I wanted to take advantage of the training and opportunities offered through the fast stream before pursuing law and feel I am now in a strong position from a skills and experience point of view and am able to back up my ambition with evidence. Likewise my financial situation is such that I am more able to take time out to study for two years, and also 4 years post university I feel ready to commit myself to further study where perhaps I wasn't ready for that previously.

    Essentially I want to do something I am excited by and law excites me. I want something that is more than just a job to me, something I am truly interested in and where I feel I can really excel. Whenever I have worked with lawyers (regularly at work) I found myself fascinated and excited by the work they do, far more so than my own work even though it can be interesting.

    Thanks,
    Ryan
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    (Original post by montyr)
    Thanks for the replies. Very helpful.

    I have started to look for open days etc. Re: VS that isn't something I had considered so something to bear in mind.

    As far as why law and why now...the below pretty much sums it up:

    Essentially I want to pursue law because it is the profession that best fits my natural skills, and was the career I had always wanted to pursue but for an accident that left me in a wheelchair causing me to question that choice... Ever since then I have been considering law and have decided to pursue it now as I have realised that I am never going to get the level of satisfaction from my current career that I would get from law. Moreover I wanted to take advantage of the training and opportunities offered through the fast stream before pursuing law and feel I am now in a strong position from a skills and experience point of view and am able to back up my ambition with evidence. Likewise my financial situation is such that I am more able to take time out to study for two years, and also 4 years post university I feel ready to commit myself to further study where perhaps I wasn't ready for that previously.

    Essentially I want to do something I am excited by and law excites me. I want something that is more than just a job to me, something I am truly interested in and where I feel I can really excel. Whenever I have worked with lawyers (regularly at work) I found myself fascinated and excited by the work they do, far more so than my own work even though it can be interesting.

    Thanks,
    Ryan
    Sounds solid! I think your background is something firms will be very interested in... I had a friend who didn't really have any legal experience but had worked in quite a few different jobs and eventually decided law was something he wanted to do. His first degree grade wasn't excellent, but he got so many vac scheme offers and managed to secure a TC. I think firms appreciate someone who has actually worked and had a career for a while, you'll have been able to to develop a lot of skills that those straight out of uni won't have.
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    Thanks for the replies.

    Have started to apply for open days etc. just need to dig out my transcript with module scores... How important are these? From memory I averaged 68 in final year, something like 62 in 2nd year and 58 in 1st year and averaged 65 overall...

    Thanks.
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    (Original post by montyr)
    Thanks for the replies.

    Have started to apply for open days etc. just need to dig out my transcript with module scores... How important are these? From memory I averaged 68 in final year, something like 62 in 2nd year and 58 in 1st year and averaged 65 overall...

    Thanks.
    Very - unfortunately. You will need individual module results for most applications whether it's an open day or a TC.




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    Thanks for the response.

    Just dugout my transcript. Averaged 59 in year 1 (highest 70, lowest 45), 60 in year 2 (highest 67, lowest 48 ) and 68 in year 3 (highest 78, lowest 63).

    Is this going to be a significant barrier for certain firms? Appreciate I could have done much better in 1st and 2nd year but 3rd year was a significant improvement at least...

    Thanks.
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    (Original post by montyr)
    Thanks for the response.

    Just dugout my transcript. Averaged 59 in year 1 (highest 70, lowest 45), 60 in year 2 (highest 67, lowest 48 ) and 68 in year 3 (highest 78, lowest 63).

    Is this going to be a significant barrier for certain firms? Appreciate I could have done much better in 1st and 2nd year but 3rd year was a significant improvement at least...

    Thanks.
    Depends on the firms. Some will be looking at the 3rds and will be put off. Others will probably care less because of your final year grades and work experience.



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    (Original post by J-SP)
    Depends on the firms. Some will be looking at the 3rds and will be put off. Others will probably care less because of your final year grades and work experience.



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    That makes sense. Is it worth addressing in a cover letter or personal statement? i.e. my final year results are more reflective of my ability. As are my subsequent achievements i.e. getting onto the highly competitive civil service fast stream and achieving promotion. I actually scored more highly on the more difficult modules which demonstrates it wasn't ability, but I guess it isn't great if you only took things seriously when it really mattered rather than throughout.

    If it is going to be a significant issue then I would rather know and just have to accept that. A lot of the application forms do seem to be geared to academics rather than experience, which makes sense.

    Other factors from a diversity point of view are the fact that I am the first and only person to go to university from my family and from a poor background, I am disabled and that was something I was contending with while at university (i.e. focussing more on making friends and socialising than work in the first 18 months as I felt I needed to make extra effort at that time).
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    (Original post by montyr)
    That makes sense. Is it worth adressing in a cover letter or personal statement? i.e. my final year results are more reflective of my ability. As are my subsequent achievements i.e. getting onto the highly competitive civil service fast stream and achieving promotion.
    I wouldn't to be honest. It's only likely to come off as an excuse about the academics and any recruiter will be able to infer the stuff about the civil service fast stream. You should probably just mention the promotion just in your work experience section.

    It could also be questioned how competitive the CSFS is. If you went by application numbers vs number of jobs, it isn't actually that competitive, especially compared to law.
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    (Original post by J-SP)
    I wouldn't to be honest. It's only likely to come off as an excuse about the academics and any recruiter will be able to infer the stuff about the civil service fast stream. You should probably just mention the promotion just in your work experience section.

    It could also be questioned how competitive the CSFS is. If you went by application numbers vs number of jobs, it isn't actually that competitive, especially compared to law.
    Fair enough. Thanks for the advice, much appreciated.

    Though perhaps competitiveness was the wrong word re: CSFS, it's more about the high standard expected and rigorous assessment process. If you don't meet the standard you don't get the job, hence they routinely under recruit. But again it comes down to the point about inference I guess.
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    (Original post by montyr)
    Fair enough. Thanks for the advice, much appreciated.

    Though perhaps competitiveness was the wrong word re: CSFS, it's more about the high standard expected and rigorous assessment process. If you don't meet the standard you don't get the job, hence they routinely under recruit. But again it comes down to the point about inference I guess.
    That could be said of a lot of graduate programmes though in all honesty - many of them under recruit because they don't find the standard they require - even law firms! I just dont think that is the message to sell. The promotion is however - sell that rather than getting on the programme.
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    (Original post by J-SP)
    That could be said of a lot of graduate programmes though in all honesty - many of them under recruit because they don't find the standard they require - even law firms! I just dont think that is the message to sell. The promotion is however - sell that rather than getting on the programme.
    Once again...that makes complete sense. Thanks.

    Given the spread of my grades in 1st and 2nd year are there any I definitely shouldn't apply to?

    I don't have my heart set on MC specifically, though I really like the look of freshfields due to their diversity policies as this is something I really believe in the benefits of.
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    So I am focusing on the open day apps at the moment but also plan to apply for TCs.

    If I am getting places on open days that request academics is that an indicator that a firm is interested in my profile and that assuming the rest of my application was good I would get an offer of an interview for TCs?

    Thanks,
    Ryan
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    (Original post by montyr)
    So I am focusing on the open day apps at the moment but also plan to apply for TCs.

    If I am getting places on open days that request academics is that an indicator that a firm is interested in my profile and that assuming the rest of my application was good I would get an offer of an interview for TCs?

    Thanks,
    Ryan
    I don't think it is necessarily as clear cut as that.

    From my understanding open days are nowhere near as competitive as securing an interview for a TC. For example, I was successful in every application I made to attend open days but, like almost everyone, was unsuccessful a number of times with VS/TC apps. I don't have statistics for number of spaces opposed to the number of applicants, but my experiences were shared amongst the majority of my friends at university.

    Of course, if you do attend an open day at a firm you can certainly use that to your advantage with the TC application, but there is no guarantee of success even if your application was considered 'good'.
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    (Original post by Conzy210)
    I don't think it is necessarily as clear cut as that.

    From my understanding open days are nowhere near as competitive as securing an interview for a TC. For example, I was successful in every application I made to attend open days but, like almost everyone, was unsuccessful a number of times with VS/TC apps. I don't have statistics for number of spaces opposed to the number of applicants, but my experiences were shared amongst the majority of my friends at university.

    Of course, if you do attend an open day at a firm you can certainly use that to your advantage with the TC application, but there is no guarantee of success even if your application was considered 'good'.
    This.

    It means they are interested enough in your experience/academics that you've met the minimum criteria and could be successful at securing a TC interview, but it doesn't mean you will get one at all.

    Some open days are not very competitive, others are more competitive than TCs. Really depends on the firm, amount of events they do, size of intake etc.


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    Thanks for the replies both.

    Yeah, that is what I was trying to get at, have I met the minimum requirements or could my academics still filter me out at the TC stage?

    Also if I don't get a place on an open day is it even worth applying for a TC?

    Thanks,
    Ryan
 
 
 
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