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updated on 01 November 2022
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With Freshers’ week now a distant memory, and exams and essay deadlines a looming reality, what can you do to improve your career prospects?
Your university’s career service is a fantastic, often underutilised resource that many students don’t make the most of during their studies.
LawCareers.Net has outlined five ways your careers service can support you as you figure out what it is you want from your future career.
A careers fair is your chance to speak to employers, introduce yourself and discover more about what it’s like to work for them. If you’re set on becoming a lawyer, find out which law firms will be attending your university’s careers or law fair and conduct some research into the firm to identify whether you could see yourself working there in the future.
This is also an opportunity for you to speak to other businesses – if you’re unsure whether a career in law is for you, there’ll be a host of other organisations available to speak to. You can use the careers fair as part of your research and if you come away feeling confident that the legal profession is ‘the one’, you’ll likely find it easier to answer specific questions on application forms – for example, “why do you want to be a lawyer?”. While getting practical experience in several industries will also help with this question, the conversations you have at a careers fair can form part of this answer.
Support finding work experience
Your careers service will advertise various opportunities that could be beneficial to your future career. It’s important to note that aspiring lawyers will find both legal and non-legal experiences valuable, so keep an open mind when searching for opportunities.
Read ‘How aspiring lawyers can succeed with no legal experience’ for advice on what you should include in your applications if you’re short on legal experience.
It’s also likely that your careers service will have resources to help you find relevant work experience. Plus, universities often stay in touch with alumni to connect past students with current ones – you could find yourself bagging a great work experience opportunity thanks to this.
Your CV and applications
Applications should be tackled with an understanding of the time and effort they require. All law firm recruiters that we speak to say that one of the main things that lets a candidate down in their application is not being specific. If you can substitute one firm name for another, your application isn’t good enough.
Make sure you do some wider reading and remember that law firms don’t want to recruit trainees who are carbon copies of each other – be yourself.
Your careers service can help you to refine your CV and application writing skills. They’ll likely hold workshops or one-to-one sessions for you to attend and go through your application with a trained professional. If you’ve received a recent rejection, consider taking the CV and application form you filled out for that particular job with you. Your careers adviser can identify areas for you to improve on to make your application stand out next time around.
It might be that you just need to check your grammar properly before submitting, or demonstrate your commercial awareness more effectively. In either case, a careers adviser is a valuable extra set of eyes to check this for you.
Read this ‘four-step masterclass’ for tips on how to write an excellent application.
Mentoring is an incredibly effective tool that some careers services offer to students. Each mentoring scheme will differ slightly depending on the education provider, but most involve students being paired with a working professional who’s on hand to support you on your journey into a professional career.
As with most things, you get out what you put in with mentoring. It’s important that you’re open about your goals and current position so that your mentor has the full picture and can offer you well-rounded advice. Again, university alumni might be on hand to support you with this, offering a realistic look at how they pursued and developed within their chosen career.
The LawCareers.Net Handbook 2023
Do you want to get your hands on the 2023 edition of The LawCareers.Net Handbook? This publication is designed to be your companion and adviser throughout your journey to becoming a solicitor or barrister. Physical copies of The Handbook will be available via your university’s careers service soon – check with your careers service to see whether they have copies to offer you.
Whether you’re a first, second, or third year, you can use our Handbook to kickstart your journey into the legal profession.
Read the e-book version of The Handbook now to get a head start!
For more advice on how to make the most of your university’s career service, read this LCN Says.