updated on 19 March 2013
In this guest blog, I would love to share my experiences of how studying law has had such a positive impact on my life, especially on my entrepreneurial life. Beyond the legal knowledge I have acquired, I have discovered and developed further skills, which are very useful during the search for work placements and other training contracts.
Originally from France, I moved from the United States to the United Kingdom in 2009 to pursue my teaching career. However, in 2010, at the age of 30, I decided to switch career and become a solicitor. Needless to say, my friends and family, most of whom were married and parents by the time they were 30, were very surprised to hear the news.
I enrolled in the Graduate Entry LLB programme at City University London in September 2010 and, last month, I graduated with a 2:1. While reading law, I was involved in various volunteering and community projects and came up with the idea of Taskhub, which I co-founded with my partner in January 2012. Working on a tech startup while studying law is not usual, but I've always had a knack for doing things that are not usual!
Fairly early on though, and after deciding that I would definitely get a 2.1, I realised that having good marks was not going be enough to land me a job and that the legal industry was very competitive. When many of my friends were able to count on their family and friends to acquire legal experience, my lack of connections made my search more challenging. So I started to attend the events organised on campus, met with HR/law specialists and sent my CV off to law firms and organisations.
At the end of my first year at law school, I realised that although I had acquired a lot of stationery and tasted a lot of wine and cheese, I did not get any work placements. Huge disappointment.
After a few tears, I decided to change my strategy. The first event I attended at the beginning of the second year at law school was a lecture delivered at City by Wadah Khanfar, the former Al Jazeera director general. After the lecture, instead of making my way to the table of wine and cheese, I decided to talk to a media lawyer. Media law being one of my favourite topics, I went up to him and simply asked: "May I be straightforward and ask for an opportunity to shadow you at your law firm for a few days?" His response was to smile and give me a business card, inviting me to get in touch. The next day, I emailed him and was so excited to be offered a work placement at a City firm.
The evening did not stop there. I confidently approached a journalist and was soon introduced to another person, who offered me the chance to spend a week in the legal department of the Guardian (which was an amazing experience!).
During my final year, using this networking technique, I landed a placement at the Citizens Advice Bureau in Islington, and was offered many other volunteering opportunities in the legal world.
If, coming from France, having no prior connections in the legal industry, I can do this, then anybody can do the same! So, what's your plan for the next event you'll be attending? Go for it - you've got nothing to lose and everything to gain!
Aurore Hochard (@aurorehochard) is chief operating officer and co-founder of Taskhub, a peer-to-peer marketplace matching people who need a task done with people in their community who can help, at an agreed price.