Paralegal Tony, a part-time LPC student and paralegal at a City law firm, says that shrewd graduates can fund themselves on their journey to becoming lawyers
On graduating with an LLB in law with French law and French language in 2011, I took the first job available to me and swept floors at a garage while making applications to law firms in the local area. The law firm where I completed some work experience during that time was so impressed by the tenacity I showed that they decided to offer me a full-time position as a paralegal for a whole £12,000!
During that first paralegal job, I took every opportunity to network. This led to a barrister who I had instructed in a matter to give me the heads up on another position at a law firm offering more money – just enough to cover LPC fees. Not that networking on its own is enough. You need a good CV, too. To that end, get your CV reviewed. @Career_Geek is offering a free service at the moment, otherwise follow me on Twitter and I will happily have a look...
Don’t undersell your past experiences
For the interview for that second paralegal position, I cited my experiences in retail of how to deal with customer complaints, my ability to be choice with words and calm under pressure when working as a silver service waiter, and the charm on the phone I’d developed from working in telesales. Later, I learnt that these factors all counted towards me getting the position. Never undersell your past experiences in any industry unless you can demonstrate it in a more relevant field.
Say goodbye to your social life
I started the LPC part-time in February 2011, completing weekly submissions online and teaching myself through online lectures and marked assessments. I never saw the point of going to lectures at uni, and this more independent style of learning has suited me down to the ground – apart from the fact that I now have no life.
I’d like to make it clear to anyone who is looking to do the same that this work-while-you-study route is hard, very hard. If you like to crash out in the week after a hard day’s work and go on a bender on the weekend – forget it. You really need to put the time in otherwise you will find yourself lagging.
Do not underestimate the powers of social media
Only a month into the new role, a friend from uni, who took a job in HR, called having seen my profile on Linkedin asking if I wanted to join a City firm in a paralegal position in their employment team. I had little experience in the area of law, no postgraduate qualifications or an academic record to be proud of.
So now I am commuting to London and loving every moment of it. While the hours are similar to my previous job, which was in family law, the pressure is less. City firms don’t always want more than high street firms – at least not from me yet.
I’ve learnt bucket loads working as a paralegal, more than I ever learnt from a four-year undergraduate course or any other job I have had. For me, this is where I want to be and having the opportunity to gain experience while staying out of debt as I fund the LPC is a financially viable way of getting the requisite experience to land a training contract.
Follow @ParalegalTony on Twitter