Changing Careers and Applying for TCs

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Christian79
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Hi,

I am currently looking at changing careers. I have just left the armed forces after a 17 year career and would like to change career into law. Although I obviously have an extensive non-law career under my belt, I have no prior law experience other than my family, many of whom are solicitors and my parent having a conveyancing practice.

I'm a graduate in a non-law background and my path into law would be to self fund a GDL starting this September. As a non-law graduate whose first steps into law will be the GDL, when is it normal to apply for training contracts? When I look at published dates, companies are recruiting for 2022 which is when I would be looking at starting a TC on my current timeline but obviously I don't really have any experience to apply for one at the moment?

If I apply next year after having done the GDL, it will be for 2023 entries so will I then face a year gap between GDL and LPC?

I'm really confused as to how this seamlessly works if you aren't studying an undergraduate degree and applying at the same time as studying your degree.
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shahil888
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My understanding is that many firms, as you have noticed, recruit 2 years in advance so currently would be offering 2022 contracts. For many people they do not need the two years to study (e.g. a law grad only needs 1 year to do the LPC), so they will fill that extra year with paralegalling (sometimes at the firm they are due to train staff) or anything else. Some firms may offer immediate start TCs but these are rarer.

It is normal and advised to apply for TCs (and vacation schemes) during the GDL. You are unlikely to get a direct TC offer without any legal experience, however, so I would stick to vac scheme applications, although these will likely also be v difficult without legal experience on your CV. If I were you during your GDL year I would apply to a few vac schemes, even if failure is likely it is worthwhile getting to grips with the application processes. Mostly though I would focus on doing really well on the course and securing any legal work exp (exploit your family network, law clinics, or just ask at local firms). Especially coming from a long non-law background you need some solid experience to justify and prove your interest and understanding of the career to recruiters.
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TheMandalorian
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(Original post by Christian79)
Hi,

I am currently looking at changing careers. I have just left the armed forces after a 17 year career and would like to change career into law. Although I obviously have an extensive non-law career under my belt, I have no prior law experience other than my family, many of whom are solicitors and my parent having a conveyancing practice.

I'm a graduate in a non-law background and my path into law would be to self fund a GDL starting this September. As a non-law graduate whose first steps into law will be the GDL, when is it normal to apply for training contracts? When I look at published dates, companies are recruiting for 2022 which is when I would be looking at starting a TC on my current timeline but obviously I don't really have any experience to apply for one at the moment?

If I apply next year after having done the GDL, it will be for 2023 entries so will I then face a year gap between GDL and LPC?

I'm really confused as to how this seamlessly works if you aren't studying an undergraduate degree and applying at the same time as studying your degree.
I am also a career changer into law. You don’t need to have loads of legal work experience to make a successful change into law. Your experience in the army will have given you lots of transferable skills that are needed in law. Teamwork, resilience, organisation, working in a busy environment are all skills that you gained in the army which you can use in law.

If you can write a really good application form showcasing and advertising these skills from your time in the army then you can easily get offers from law firms.

I was originally going to apply for the GDL but opted to study ILSPA’s legal secretary qualification instead because I wanted to gain more experience in law first. It’s quite cheap compared to the GDL around 600 pounds and more flexible as well. That’s something you could possibly do to gain more legal experience. If you secure a training contract many law firms will pay the full fees for your GDL.

In terms of when to apply many law firms advise you apply two years before the training contract date you want to start. Generally I believe they say two years so that you can get all the qualifications you need before starting. So one year for the GDL and another year for the LPC. Most deadlines for 2022 training contracts have passed now but there are still some applications open right now. So if you want a training contract in 2022 start applying to the applications currently open ASAP.

Another thing to note about legal experience right now is that because of the pandemic many people cannot get legal experience in person now. So, many law firms are running online virtual vacation schemes where they are accepting lots of people onto it. Join as many of these online virtual programs as you can. You can mention this on your application form and it will count as legal experience. Use the current pandemic situation to your advantage.

Remember don’t dismiss your army experience. It is still valuable. Just really emphasise the transferable skills you gained from it. Law firms love mature career changers and your army experience can be very useful in specific areas of law.
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