For the majority, rejection is something that we face. It isn’t uncommon for us to invest our free time in writing applications for the Legal Practice Course (LPC), scholarships and work experience to name a few, only to be faced with rejection at the end of the process. There are countless articles and blog posts on how to handle rejection, but very few address the subject of mental health. For those who are yet to secure the position you are aiming for, I hope to offer some motivation in this article.
Don’t lose yourself
Nobody enjoys rejection. For those who feel like they are close to quitting their journey – don’t give up. More importantly, don’t let it get to you for longer than it needs to. Remember that applications can be rejected for spelling errors – this doesn't define who you are or the skills you have. Take time to reflect on how you approach applications and interviews. The truth is, entry into the profession can be extremely demanding and that isn’t going to change anytime soon. The way we approach a demanding environment and rejection can go a long way. Rely on your strengths, rather than your setbacks. As we all say, the key is to work smarter, not harder, so decide on a strategy that works for you.
Any knockbacks can have a major impact on our confidence. You're not alone. Rejection happens to nearly everyone. Having a good support network ensures that you have time to reconnect with others and often they are people who can highlight your strengths. Use the careers service at your university and speak to your peers who are likely to have gone through similar rejections. Be proactive in requesting support. There will be tools to help you during this period. You might find it calming to listen to music or podcasts to reconnect with your goals. Having an interest outside of the legal industry will give you a much-needed perspective.
At times we may decide that we can’t put ourselves through any further application seasons – I also struggle with this. However, it is worthwhile knowing that there are alternative routes to qualifying as a lawyer, such as paralegal routes or experience gained through recruitment agencies. Changing your path can be disheartening. Rejection can leave you feeling lost with no sense of direction. Don’t panic – alternative routes can still get you to where you want to be. This may be just what you need to pick yourself back up and create goals for your future.
There are many resources that explain the routes to qualifying as a lawyer. Use the Solicitor Regulation Authority’s website to help you create your action plan. In addition to the routes I mentioned above, we forget that we can qualify as solicitors through the chartered legal executive route, and now the SQE route. For those undertaking the LPC, it is also possible to qualify as a solicitor using the SQE2 pathway. And for those who wish to practise as barristers, there is the option to initially qualify as a solicitor and then move over to the Bar later. Reach out to other students and professionals in the industry who are or have gone through the same process. But don’t compare yourself to others – every journey is different.
Use your rejection to spur you into action – there’s always next year. If you’ve been rejected by your dream firm, this is your chance to obtain feedback, evaluate your applications and improve your CV. Often, this will show recruiters a sign of resilience, which is often cited as an essential trait for any successful lawyer. If the firm allows then don’t be afraid to reapply the following year.
Take a breather. Healing from rejection is important. For some, this will be a chance to narrow down your firm choices. Equally, your previous feedback and work experience will be transferrable to the next application you submit or the next interview you secure. Rejection can open doors toward unknown paths and undiscovered firms.
Allow yourself time to process all the emotions. Once you've got your closure and set your next steps, don't look back.