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Law graduates Flora Duguid and Cathryn Kozlowski have both opted to take gap years before doing the Legal Practice Course (LPC) in order to hunt for training contracts. Is this sensible? Or are they being overly risk averse?

In the meantime, Cathryn, who wants to work in media law, has turned down a paralegal job with a small firm specialising in family law. RoundMyKitchenTable co-host Kevin Poulter, a solicitor at Bircham Dyson Bell, is aghast at Kathryn’s decision.

But Guardian law journalist Alex Aldridge reckons Kathryn has probably made the right move, recommending instead that she have a look at options like Accutrainee, the new scheme that allows LPC graduates to qualify as lawyers by training at a number of different firms (although Accutrainee pays less than City firms and doesn’t necessarily lead to a full-time job). Flora and Kathryn are suspicious about Accutrainee, though – maybe a little too suspicious, in Alex’s view.

The quartet go on to discuss law firms’ obsession with A-level results and their practice of recruiting two years in advance.

[buzzsprout episode=”37256″ player=”true”]

For #RoundMyKitchenTable on iTunes, click here

For a transcript of the podcast, click here.

Transcript provided by Stretlaw.com Your access to Legal Education, 2011

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Kevin Poulter – the voice of reason. Completely agree with opinion that getting on legal ladder is important and it is experience that counts whether or not it’s an area of law you are interested in practising in the future. Advice I ignored myself and now regret. Being able to articulate what suits and what doesn’t suit your career aspirations and personality is far more convincing when you have actual experience of doing something which you don’t necessarily have a long-term interest in. How do you really know, how can you prove it if you haven’t tried it? I have talked to many, many lawyers and there is a common consensus that legal experience counts, it doesn’t matter what or where it is. Naturally, we all believe we are good enough to get training contracts in what we perceive to be great firms and eventually, we will. Taking a gap between the GDL and LPC is absolutely fine, I’ve had a 2 year gap and it’s only made me more determined to succeed but legal experience is something which you really can’t afford to delay, especially when you haven’t done the LPC yet. The paralegal market is tough enough as it is – without the LPC it is even harder.



Another point I’d like to add which wasn’t mentioned in the podcast is that legal education is very expensive. If you don’t want to work for a big city law firm (not everyone does) and have to self-fund it takes a long time to earn enough money to pay for your legal studies if you don’t have family money to pay for it and don’t want to take out a crippling loan (a really *bad* idea in such a dire economic climate) then it does take time. Those who are older who have had to pay for their studies on their own shouldn’t be looked down upon!


Flora Duguid

Thanks for the advice APM. You’re right on the paralegal market being tough at the moment – most firms will only accept you if you have the LPC and 6 months – 1 year experience. Vicious circle?!



I’m a fan of these podcasts. Alex & Kevin conversations with guests are fun and informative. And I did listen to the end,



I enjoyed the podcast but I think Kevin knows more on this area than Alex and has a more realistic approach, and the example given of a senior City partner with a 2:2 from Hull (I think) is spectacularly unhelpful – there is nothing wrong with the university or the grade and many older partners at top firms have similar academic profiles. The fact is that they just wouldn’t get through the filtering on the modern system if they applied for a TC at many places. There is no denying firms now ask for higher grades at degree level and A-level and we could probably all cite bang up-to-date anecdotes of 2:2 candidates or those with poor A levels bagging a TC but they are few and far between.

It’s interesting also how many wannabe lawyers specify that they want to do “media” law…



I obtained a paralegal job at a PI firm straight out of HULL Uni and I love it. In my opinion, the experience you get working at a small firm cannot be matched. After four months of working here I have my own clients. I know all the basic admin stuff, can instruct Counsel & medical experts, take statements from clients, have meetings with clients etc. The staff take an interest in your life and support you. We get very offended by the term “ambulance chasers” since we have good relationships with all our clients who are in need to legal support. For example, one of our clients was involved in an accident this week in which he was nearly crushed by someone driving a forklift who had pilled wood so high he couldn’t see anything in front of him. Aside from his injuries, he told us that after the accident he sat in his van and cried because he thought that he was going to be killed. He needs compensation for the loss of earnings he will encounter as a result of someone elses stupidity. Why are PI solicitors the bad guys for wanting to help people like this? Give us a break!


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