So, you want to be a lawyer?

If you are thinking about a career in law you may already feel overwhelmed by the choices and decisions to be made. Do you want to be a solicitor or a barrister? Do you want to work in a big ‘magic circle’ firm or a in a small ‘set’? Have you applied for a ‘vac scheme’? a pupillage? a ‘TC’? If you don’t understand the jargon yet, you certainly will once you’ve spent a little time thinking about the legal career ladder.

Getting the ball rolling

In the early days, the rule on information is the more the merrier. Speak to lawyers, speak to fellow students, speak to your lecturers, speak to your careers advisors. There are different routes and different priorities depending on what kind of lawyer you want to be and it is worth working out what’s what. You’ll soon learn, for example, that a ‘vac scheme’ is most relevant if you want to apply for a training contract (a ‘TC’) in a firm of solicitors. If you want to work as a barrister, however, you’ll want to think about mini-pupillages and then pupillages. You can find out about all this and more through some simple internet searches. Even better, visit the Careers Centre and speak to a Careers Consultant in person.

What do you need to apply?

So how do you actually become a lawyer? You’ll need to apply of course. Applications for training contracts and pupillages are very competitive and getting an early start on the process is invaluable. An important thing to think about early is how you’ll show evidence of the sorts of skills and attributes that lawyers need to demonstrate. We’re not just talking academic achievements either (although obviously important). In addition to great grades you will need relevant work or voluntary experience.

Beyond that, you will likely want to know how the application process actually works. To work this out, take advantage of the various events on offer – many law firms hold open days and many will come to the events on campus. Keep an eye on for a full list and updated dates.

Whatever you do, try not to leave it all to the last minute. Remember that careers in law are extremely popular and you will have stiff competition from students at the best universities all over the world. Finding out what to do early is the best way to start and will give you the information you need to plan your attack.

Hélène Tyrrell
Application Adviser
QM Careers & Enterprise Centre


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