Forget Extracurricular Activities And ‘Gap Yahs’, How Can Wannabe Lawyers REALLY Stand Out From The Crowd?

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College of Law GDL student Simeon Klein is tempted to take a risk and be creative in his bid to steal a march on the training contract competition.

A two-minute trawl through law student forums like yields ample horror stories of hopefuls applying to 60+ firms to no avail. In such a competitive market, it’s no wonder that law students are constantly being encouraged to take on a myriad of extracurricular activities and snap up any legal work that comes their way.

But does this sort of thing actually get you anywhere when everyone’s doing it?

A dawning realisation that, in these tough times, it takes more to stand out from the crowd seems to be driving a trend among students to push the barriers of ‘marketing themselves’. Recently there has been a spate of stories about students taking to the streets to hustle for a job, with others even going as far as to sell themselves on eBay.

Notably, none of the aforementioned stunt-pullers have been law students. Indeed, there have been warnings issued against law students trying something beyond the norm to get a job.

I appreciate the basis of this caution – law is stereotyped as a rather straight-laced field, after all – but times are hard and competition extreme. Personally, I believe that if you are realistic as to what you expect to achieve by being creative, and are able to pull it off without annoying and/or disgusting people, then you might be onto something.

With social media and smartphones, the act of being creative in an eye-catching way – and then having that creativity reach a wider audience – is much easier than it used to be. While a law student may struggle to get a training contract interview, they could, for example, record themselves being interviewed, then post that content on Twitter – and if they get lucky – find themselves being viewed by lawyers from the sort of firm they’d like to join.

I’m not saying this strategy would land the self-interviewer a training contract directly. However, the initial video may grab someone’s attention very briefly, and could lead to an opportunity to follow up with an impressive application.

At the very least, a video – or a regularly updated blog, series of podcasts or even an insightful Twitter feed – would indicate that the candidate has confidence to do something different, and demonstrate a proactive approach to overcoming problems. Of course, there is always the risk of getting the tone wrong, and ending up being ridiculed by millions worldwide.

As with anything that offers a high reward, there is risk associated with the ‘being creative’ strategy. But it’s a risk that I’m increasingly tempted to take.

Listen to Simeon discuss his ideas to break free of the herd and land a training contract in the #RoundMyKitchenTable podcast