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.