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What Are Law Recruitment Fairs For?

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The trauma of the City law milkround drove law graduate Jade Ferguson to explore other less intimidating options

The law fair was game face time. Looking like a poor woman’s Ally McBeal, I shuffled around collecting pens and receiving a fair number of elbows to the face from my enthusiastic fellow attendees.

I got the sense that this wasn’t all for the students’ benefit. Many of the individuals the law firms had sent to represent them seemed to be quite junior. Some were trainees themselves, whose only experience in recruitment was their own. Their advice was to…look at the website…and that training contracts are very difficult to get. Thanks. I suppose, though, as a way for law firms to remind students of their existence – and importance – the law fair scene isn’t entirely without purpose.

In the past, I used to imagine myself working at one of those big firms whose pens I used to collect. Then I began to go off the idea as I imagined myself sitting in a small cubicle studying contracts day and night. It seemed not only boring, but disconnected from my upbringing. From what I’ve seen of the people who go into corporate law, I wouldn’t belong there. Still, I wanted to practise law, and as all this dawned on me during my masters, I felt lost. My careers advisor suggested I look at high street firms.

I now work at a niche personal injury and clinical negligence firm as a paralegal before I commence the Legal Practice Course (LPC) part-time in September. The clients – some of whom are my own despite me only being here for a few months – are normal people who need legal assistance. My work for the day varies. I could be preparing court proceedings, drafting instructions to counsel or medical experts, or meeting clients in the office.

Do I regret not going down the big law firm route? Well, the security would be nice, but I’d be less keen on the hours and worry the lack of responsibility they give to their junior lawyers would hinder my development. Currently I don’t have a guaranteed training contract, but my boss has said I’ll get one provided I do well on the LPC. Of course, I’m earning less than my fellow graduates who have gone into corporate law, but I consider job satisfaction to be more important than money, and by working while I study I’m not getting into debt. I don’t see any reason why starting small can’t be a platform to an interesting career

Jade Ferguson is a law graduate working in personal injury and clinical negligence, she hopes to start her LPC in September and work on life skills such as making jam. Jade blogs at Super Lady.

11 Comments

Disillusioned

Legal Cheek, you have hit the nail on the head with this one. Spot on.

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Peter

Such a good perspective on things. Write a book.

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Mike farrell

I admire your attitude Jade, its good to see that there are graduates out there who see past chasing the coin with city law firms and go for job satisfaction and the positive side of practising law. There is nothing more repellent to me than a graduate who openly admits to being in it for the money, and I have dealt with a few of those.
Good luck on your future, with your outlook I am sure you will do well.

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Jade Ferguson

Thank you for your comments! I feel that some people see taking this route as unambitious. I see it as pursuing a different kind of success. I hope this offers another perspective on careers for those students who feel a bit lost.

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Jenny

As a graduate from Nottingham University and someone who also wanted to shun the corporate law route, Jade I completely emphathise with you! I felt bewildered and confused when attending my law fair at university – where were all the stands dedicated to Family Law? When I told people I wanted to practise Family Law outside of London people thought I was making a joke! All my friends and associates went down the Corporate Law City Route – since then one has been made redundant, one passionately hates their job and one hasn’t seen a weekend in 5 months. My advice, stick to your guns and trust your instincts. I am now working at a well respected medium-sized firm in Manchester and I have just qualified into the Family Department. Good luck to you Jade!

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Jade

It is great to hear that someone else had the same experience and is doing well. I’m only at the start of a long road so it is nice to have reassurance from some one who has been there & done it. Thank you for taking the time to comment Jenny.

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Trainee

I fully respect your choice to go down the high street route and it is very clear that you are not in it for the money. However, I think you have massively stereotyped bigger and more corporate law firms. I am a first year trainee at a large corporate/commercial law firm and I have a lot of responsibility. I conducted two court hearings by myself in my first seat and currently have 10 of my own files. The hours can sometimes be long, however, during my first year, I only finished later than 6.30pm a handful of times. Furthermore, I do not see anything wrong with graduates who flock to corporate law just for the money – why not?

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Jade

Trainee, thanks for your comments. On the responsibility point, as I have no experience in corporate law myself- I was merely making an assumption. I made the assumption on the basis that I work very closely with my boss who delegates work to me directly. I assumed that this isn’t the case in larger firms. I am pleased to hear that a 1st year trainee has lots of responsibility and hope it is going well for you. I can only comment on my own experience. The impression I got of corporate firms is only an impression, I admit that I could be completely wrong. I could have gone down that route and completely loved it. I have nothing against students who pursue corporate law for money, as you say, why not? At University I feel that careers advice was biased towards the bigger firms- I felt that it was assumed that everyone wanted to practise law to make loads of money. I would have appreciated a more balanced approach to careers advice at University and that was the point I was trying to convey.

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Trainee

The bigger firms will inevitably attract a greater number of candidates. They pay higher salaries and offer more training contract places. I really don’t think it would be viable to hold a “legal aid” law fair, or a “high street” law fair.

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