Have you ever failed to understand a relatively simple concept, perhaps because you were too scared to ask for further clarification? Admittedly, I have probably wasted hours in presentations because of this misplaced fear.
For instance, I have attended meetings without knowing the individual under discussion and have spent entire seminars scratching my head over the acronyms in PowerPoint presentations; I can even recall instances where I made flawed assumptions.
However, on many of these occasions, a simple explanation from a more senior participant would have quickly filled any gaps in my knowledge.
Arguably, this ‘knowledge deficit’ is experienced by most new candidates applying to law firms – the extent of earlier obliviousness regarding particular firms or practice areas revealing itself only at a later date.
For me, this realisation of my ignorance often occurred following a conversation with a lawyer. These short conversations normally offered more relevant insight than my considerable research. Therefore, I was very grateful when I discovered that there were YouTube channels offering similarly great legal career insights for free.
Navigating the legal sector is something that many law firm applicants struggle with; however, law YouTube channels can help us all to avoid the embarrassment of asking awkward questions. Further, the content that these channels produce is usually created in response to audience requests, and presenters' expertise and honesty generate well-rounded insight.
Additionally, vloggers are usually individuals who have successfully navigated the application process. Presenters may even be recruiters. Therefore, they can give genuine feedback that assists applicants. With this in mind, the following YouTube channels are highly recommended.
Law and Broader, by Chrissie Wolfe, is a fantastic channel for anybody seeking to get into the solicitors’ profession. The channel features analysis on commercial awareness, legal tech and gender diversity.
Perhaps of greater use are Chrissie’s practical tips on how to perform well in application forms, interviews and assessment days. Chrissie’s videos offer detailed, tailored advice that is enhanced by personal anecdotes and grounded in her experience of assessing candidates.
Some inspired guidance from Law and Broader that I feel is definitely worth sharing includes making a grid of your core competencies.
Ahead of your applications, design a table with columns based on the STAR (Situation, Task, Action and Result) answering system. Then, add rows with typical skills-based interview questions. For instance: “Give me an example of your leadership abilities, or working in a team?” Contemplate your responses and fill in the table with examples.
The ability to recall these answers will provide you with greater confidence when answering strength-based interview questions. This process will also encourage you to tackle your self-identified strengths and weaknesses, thereby making you a stronger candidate.
Elsewhere, Chrissie offers candid tips that I think are universally true and useful. Firstly, be prepared for IT issues during your vacation scheme – this is unlikely to arise in any LPC training guide, but it is a recurring problem among short-term workers; candidates should therefore prepare accordingly.
In short, use your initiative, contact IT and act professionally. Likewise, be ready for office coffee mug politics. As was said in Indiana Jones – choose wisely.
Tips for Lawyers, by Chris Hargreaves, is a brilliant channel for aspiring lawyers. Every student knows that legal practice is completely different from academic study. Nonetheless, this is the channel that really emphasised that distinction to me. Further, the channel offers great advice on how to adapt to the world of legal work.
Chris’s videos do not focus on being a strong, academic lawyer. Rather, he concentrates on essential tips to improve your legal skills. This inevitably includes drafting and legal research recommendations, but also so much more.
Tips for Lawyers includes quality content on improving lawyers’ skills with reference to law as a business. Tips are also given which consider lawyers as employees in stressful work environments. For example, there are thoughtful videos on networking, business development, client management, as well as wellness, making mistakes and ‘work-life balance’ myths.
Marcus Cleaver and UK Law Weekly helped me get through my GDL. Put simply, his video lectures significantly improved my understanding of the topics that I studied.
However, Marcus’s most valuable resource for applicants is his UK Law Weekly videos. He comments on a new case each week and covers a wide range of legal practice. Further, his sophisticated analysis, habitually on nuanced points of law, shows the level of awareness that can be obtained if you intricately study a case ahead of your interview.
Also, Marcus often outlines the background of a case and how it interrelates with other notable recent judgments. Additionally, he regularly makes a strong argument for specific law reform in his videos. Law reform is a question that is frequently asked in legal interviews. Therefore, UK Law Weekly can really help your thought process when designing a response to that question.
Although tailored to their own recruitment goals, the Shearman & Sterling channel has some great advice for all law firm applicants.
The firm’s HR team offer comprehensive video guidance on topics including what questions to expect in an interview, ways to improve your application prospects and the reasons why training contract candidates are rejected.
Additionally, the channel provides useful videos for supporting candidates’ commercial awareness. These video presentations are performed by various employees via lectures on a whiteboard. The Whiteboard Wednesday segment also tackles niche and rarely covered legal topics. For example, issues such as the key metrics that law firms look at, the effectiveness of a Swiss Verein structure and legal project management.
Bias notwithstanding, the LawCareers.Net YouTube channel and vlogs are brilliant sources for applicants.
The channel features discussions on key commercial awareness areas that really help candidates to stand out. Recent coverage included the US-China trade war – a theme that is one of the most regularly cited interview topics that applicants have been expected to discuss this year. Additionally, extensive explanations on the SQE and apprenticeships are valuable for the candidates interested in those newer paths into law.
There is also an abundance of recruiter interviews. These graduate recruiters offer insight on what they are measuring when they are evaluating potential candidates. More importantly, perhaps, is the advice regarding what applicants should do to try to meet their firm’s high expectations.
Further, I strongly recommend the LawCareers.Net vlogs. It is essential to gain insight from people who have recently been in your position. For instance, the journey that most people take just to get legal work experience is well covered; the difficulties that some of the bloggers openly discussed reassured me when I encountered the same challenges. Recent videos on the recommended legal books to read, networking and pro bono are also well worth your time.