Middle-aged career-change to law... advice please!Watch
I'm hoping to get some genuine (good or bad) feedback about my career plans. Any advice greatly received!!!
Biog: Early 40s. Graduated listening to Oasis, Pulp and Suede with a 2.2 degree in Mech Engineering from a "new" Uni ("old poly" ). Mediocre A-levels. Sounds great so far hey?!
I am disillusioned with engineering and I would like to retrain to be a solicitor (I won't go into the details why), so I am thinking of doing a GDL/LPC full-time at my own expense - best part of £20k.
I'm realistic about what I want to achieve in a career in law (given my age and qualifications) and, due to personal commitments my goal is to work in a "high street" law firm in the East Midlands (Notts or Leics).
So assuming I pass the GDL and LPC, what are the chances of getting a training contract locally? I get the impression that it would be difficult because TCs are the preserve of London, Bristol, Birmingham, Leeds, etc, correct? And if I do get a TC, is a job likely to follow?
I suppose I just don't want to spend £20k and two years training in law to find out that the likelyhood of getting a job after it all is tiny, because of my qualifications, my age, and/or the limited location that I would work in.
If anyone has similar experince, good or bad, please let me know. Or just general advice would be great too!
You can't do anything about your age (and companies shouldn't be worried about it either as that isn't legal!). Your limited area of work will affect what you do no matter what field or job you're in. In terms of qualifications once you get what's required then that's the best you can do. The bit that can hold you back is experience and all you have to do with that is keep at it. Changing jobs or careers is risky but loads of people have done it and if you don't try or take that risk you won't know if you can make it. You will always have what you currently do to fall back on and no one can guarantee that the risk will pay off. So it's really up to you whether you can live with staying where you are and not taking the risk or want to risk it badly enough to potentially lose and have to pick yourself up.
You don't have to answer that question on here, but it is something to consider. Those that come into the law from a previous career are often able to make recruiters look past poor academics, but that is dependent on their previous career having some relevance to the position they're looking to move in to. Ultimately this is all about standing out from the crowd, whether you're just out of university or coming into law in your 40s. Of course there are areas of law where previous experience as an engineer may well be extremely useful (I'm thinking Construction and IP off the top of my head), but they may not be areas that high street firms would often find themselves dealing with, and if you're forced to look at more high powered firms to make your previous career relevant, you may then find that your academics are more of an issue.
However, the short answer is that I don't know, and as J-SP says you may struggle to find guidance on here from anyone with the experience to tell you anything reliable. To that end I agree with J-SP; I think the answer is that you need to approach some of these firms directly and see if you can get some guidance from them as to your prospects of successfully making the move.
Despite your 2:2, it may be mitigated by the need for specialised attorneys with engineering experience.
I say go for it, but as always do your due diligence: network, determine if there is a need in your preferred location for patent attorneys, contact CIPA and ask your questions, etc.
Of course, if you're not interested in patent law then you can ignore the above, but I strongly believe your mechanical engineering degree can play to your advantage.
Good luck with everything!
1. GDL + LPC is likely to set you back £20k
2. You will struggle to work whilst undertaking the GDL and will be unable to work full time whilst doing the LPC. As such, you will likely have to be in a position to fund yourself for 2 years.
3. High street law firms are struggling financially and therefore practising law in one of them is becoming less and less rewarding.
4. On the assumption that you manage to obtain a TC (which is unlikely), you are likely to have been working at the firm for roughly 1-2 years as a paralegal (on an awful salary (think £15,000)) and thereafter 2 years during the TC (also on an awful salary (think £16,000)). Once you qualify, you are likely to be earning mid £20ks.
Can you afford the 5 or so years on no/very little money?
If so, can you afford to contribute nothing into your pension for 5 years or so?
Apologies for being negative, but I cannot see why someone would want to incur the cost of the GDL, LPC and monies lost as a result of not working, for a stint of roughly 10 years as a Solicitor in a high street firm.
Thanks very much for the responses, I wasn't expecting so many replies so quickly!
It's interesting to hear info and arguments for both sides. I know the financial hit will be pretty huge but I'm aware of it so it won't come as a surprise. When I graduated in the 90s I had debts of precisely £0, so maybe now I can be a debt-ridden 'graduate' instead!
The info about IP/CIPA is interesting, I didn't know about it so it might be something I can look into.
And about networking and getting some info from local law firms/solicitors, I intend to get some work experience at a few and ask lots of questions while I'm there. "How about a training contract then?" might be one
Many thanks for your advice guys.
Age doesn't matter, in fact it's a plus point for clients (who wants a lawyer who looks like they have just qualified?).
Your previous experience can help you specialise in that area of law or similar.
High street firms have lost public funding contracts but those specialising in privately funded areas of demand survive. In house may be a better option for you so don't rule it out.
Finally, he says: if you don't do this now you will regret it as it takes 3-5 years to do the conversion course, solicitors or bar exams and training contract and now is the time to get it done.
You could always go back to an engineering environment trained as a lawyer or work for the patent office.
Thank you. Think I will go with the GDL part time whilst still working. This way I can fulfil my expensive dream of studying law and keep the job in the legal department and maybe they will give me a training contract when I do the LPC. It might be possible as I have some of the knowledge already there but not the lawyer title. This way I won't lose out too much in terms of money and at the end of the day even without a LPC/TC I will gain some knowledge of the law and legal system for my £10K!. Also the SQE may take time to come in and when it does maybe I will have 2 choices to consider. fingers crossed.