It's been a long year. The pandemic’s impact has caused global unrest, forced uncomfortable changes and injected uncertainty in many. In the legal sector, amidst it all, are junior lawyers fighting for their place in the profession. As we head into the new year, I am recapping 2020 to highlight how we can embrace future challenges alike to covid-19 in the most productive way.
As the country went into its first lockdown in March 2020, the summer showcased an enormous rise in legal activity on social media. To combat the isolating effect of coronavirus, technology stepped in, introducing virtual internships, webinars and online panels. Those who might not usually gain a precious place on a vacation scheme were jointly invited to attend a multitude of digital events. Exposure to a vast range of law firms, lawyers and resources increased like never before as legal forums found the solution to junior lawyers' work experience problems in the connectivity of the Internet.
Now, you might think you're settled with a training contract, pupillage or job, and that there is nothing more you can or need to do. Wrong! These past few years have proven that there is always something around the corner that could surprise you and change your plans. Covid and Brexit are just two of the hot topics that have been hogging our screens, but other things may arise that could have an impact on your future (whether that is in a good or bad way).
What we can learn from this seemingly disastrous year, is that everyone deals with things in their own, unique way. Some people might use the pandemic to take a step back from their busy life, relax and give their mental health the attention it deserves. While others might find comfort in embracing a challenge, managing their newfound time and keeping busy. Looking ahead to when something like this happens again, I have put together a list of things you could do that might improve your chance of success in the legal profession.
Make the most of opportunities to develop your skills, CV and commercial awareness. You must stand out as a candidate who has developed their confidence, intelligence and abilities at each event you attend, so don’t sign up just for the sake of it. Your partners or superiors will look in your favour if they can see eager yet selective choices to learn and take part in networking, especially during a restrictive and limiting pandemic.
Ensure that you sign up to events and make an effort to network with new people. The next step is the important bit. Consider what you can learn from them for use in future interviews or projects. On their own, even a very large collection of virtual certificates, well-known contacts and social media posts won't get you that training contract, promotion or new job. Your attitude towards them and the pandemic as a whole will demonstrate to recruiters how committed you are to the legal profession. This could mean the difference between an offer and a rejection email (see my post on ‘How to deal with rejection’ for more on this). Do not view this period as a sort of limbo, a year that will be discounted in future discussions as a write-off. Those who push themselves and take initiative show great and desirable potential to a highly competitive sector that is constantly evolving.
Finally, remember this: your last year is what you made of it, your next year can be even more. 2020 was a practice run, a chance to stretch out, give back and grow for those who recognised it. What will your 2021 involve?