Before starting law school, I didn’t know much about practicing law in England, not even the difference between solicitors and barristers. As the media focuses a lot on the contentious side of law, I had always pictured lawyers as advocates in court, while transactional law and alternative dispute resolution were alien to me. So how did I decide that I want to become a solicitor?
Tip 1: Although your first year grades don’t count towards your final degree classification, treat your first year at university as if it counts. Your grades and extra-curricular activities will help you when applying for work experience schemes.
From the very beginning of law school, my university encouraged students to attend networking events and career fairs. Without such events, my journey of choosing a career path would have been much more challenging. Thankfully, I was also surrounded by highly motivated students, who made me realise that it’s never too early or too late to gain work experience, so I began applying for vacation schemes and open days.
Tip 2: Expand your commercial awareness by following international business news, listening to podcasts, and researching the firm’s recent work.
Hoping to have an international career, I searched for opportunities in both England and my home country, Saudi Arabia, where I completed a vacation scheme at Khoshaim & Associates – a Saudi firm that works in cooperation with Allen & Overy.
As commercial law often involves multi-jurisdictional work, I believe that my experience in a Middle Eastern jurisdiction has added value to my legal knowledge. Having said that, you don’t necessarily need to work abroad to have an international outlook.
A great way to expand your commercial awareness is to follow news about multinational deals and learn more about the legal aspects of multi-jurisdictional transactions and disputes.
Tip 3: Tailor your application to the firm and narrow down the number of firms to which you apply.
As I gained a wider insight into commercial and corporate law, I decided that it’s the right career path for me. The next step was to secure a training contract. As cliché as this may sound, it’s important to prioritise quality over quantity of applications. In my experience, limiting the number of my applications enabled me to dedicate more time and effort to tailoring each application carefully.
You can tailor your application by researching the firm’s practice areas and unique selling points, such as the multi-specialist approach at Slaughter and May. Next, draw on your experiences and personal interests to answer why you are the right fit for this firm and why it appeals to you. By showing genuine interest in the firm, you are more likely to succeed in the application process.