Paralegals: next steps after graduating

Ken Okumura, Legal Recruitment Manager at Robert Walters

Facing the real world after graduating can be a daunting experience. Let’s be honest, you’ve just left university with £8 in your bank account, the echoes of Tort law haunting your dreams and now you actually have to ‘adult’.

Whether you’re a first-year student or a fresh LPC grad, let me share my paralegal particles of wisdom to help get you get on track for a training contract.  

 

Take your sweet time

Firstly, it’s important not to rush into TC applications. I get it, they have two-year application windows and you don’t want to waste any time. Some people know the exact area they want to specialise in which is great, but without the paralegal experience it’s difficult to understand just how different the areas are in practice compared to law school or a vacation scheme. The last thing you want to do is send 4 or 5 TC applications through to your favourite firms as soon as you graduate with zero market knowledge or experience about the area of law.

Unlike a bad Facebook photo, you can’t un-tag yourself from a bad application. Which brings me onto my next point…

Know your market

Knowledge is power. Focus on one or two areas that you are passionate about and search a handful of firms which specialise in this, don’t burn yourself out researching 5 different areas and 20 firms, work smart, not hard. The Legal 500 is a great resource filled with information on Law firm rankings and general information to give you a clear idea on what each firm specialises in.  

Always research a firm’s recent articles or events in relation to the area you are keen on. Remember to utilise online tools like The Lawyer to help gain commercial awareness around your market and up to date news about what’s happening with your favourite firms.

Save that money honey

I can’t stress enough how much you SHOULD NOT be paying for Training Contract advice and ‘crash courses’ on TC applications. Don’t get me wrong, these events can be valuable and good to gain further insight into areas of interest and developing application tips/tricks but you should not have to pay for these events. There are plenty of graduate evenings and training days that specialise in preparing you for your legal career, in-fact most law firms will host their own insight days! You can also find equally friendly advice from specialist recruitment agencies like Robert Walters and organisations such as All About Law or Aspiring SolicitorsTo give you a few ideas it may be worth trying the below (bank friendly) options first:

  • Attend law fairs
  • Attend Paralegal events held by universities or recruitment agencies (free food and drink #winning)
  • Apply and attend open days hosted by your ideal firms

Vacation Schemes

Treat your vacation scheme applications with as much love and care as if it were a TC application. These work experience opportunities can be your golden ticket into a TC. A lot of firms will hire their future trainees from vacation schemes which is why the vac scheme process can sometimes be quite arduous. Take care not to assume that a Paralegal role will equal a training contract, do your homework and check how they hire their future trainees!  

To LPC or not to LPC

Let’s not beat around the bush, having an LPC will drastically improve your chances of gaining paralegal opportunities, but it isn’t a hard and fast rule. Undeniably, £15k is a lot of money to fork out for an unguranteed route to a training contract. Although having an LPC would definitely help you in the long term, there are still opportunities for non LPC graduates. Talk to a Legal Recruitment Consultants for more information about non LPC opportunities.  

Social Media Savvy

I am hoping that by reading this you all have LinkedIn. Good! Use this tool to your advantage, connect with other paralegals, lawyers and anyone working in the industry. Stalk their activity like a broken-hearted bonnie lass and see what they are getting up-to, who is applying where, what people are commenting and who is offering opportunities. You will be surprised what you will find including latest jobs, events and current news.

Alternatively, be conscious of what you are posting on your personal social media accounts. I would highly recommend keeping things like Instagram and Facebook private unless they are heavily promoting your legal career. (#lawstudent on your fresher’s picture does not count as promotion…)

Try before you buy

Lastly, relax! It’s okay to not want to dive right into a training contract straight away. It’s great to get some paralegal experience under your belt in areas of interest. Allow yourself time to discover what areas you want to focus your legal career in and be open-minded to temporary paralegal positions.

Take advantage of the resources around you in order to learn more about the legal market. It will be hard work and the competition is fierce, but you’ve made it this far!

For further career advice or to discuss the latest career opportunities, contact me at sian.bartholomew@robertwalters.com or call on +44 (0)20 7509 8922.

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