Earlier this week, a City lawyer told me that his firm had experienced a “surge” in unsolicited CVs and job-seeking emails from law graduates. He and his colleagues had received “far more than in previous years”, he explained.
A quick call around other law firms confirmed that this surge is being felt across the City, with lawyers suggesting that it is linked to the current trend for graduates to take to the street and hustle for a job (as documented liberally in the Evening Standard of late).
One of these lawyers told me: “Desperate Legal Practice Course (LPC) graduates who haven’t obtained training contracts see these pictures in the paper of graduates handing out their CVs at Canary Wharf, and read some of the accompanying tales of success, then wrongly assume that this ad hoc application strategy can get them a training contract.”
Certainly, the Standard does have a tendency to present the street hustle approach to landing a job as a more glamorous – and easier – alternative to the conventional application form route.
In a recent piece, it profiles Faraaz Kashkar, 21, a maths and economics graduate, who applied for 100 jobs before handing out his CV at Canary Wharf station – an act of initiative that saw him land a job as an investment broker at Windward Capital after a businesswoman took a photo of him and put it on Facebook, which his new employer saw.
Kashkar told the paper: “The problem with applying for graduate jobs is you spend hours filling in applications online and in most cases you get an automated rejection email the next day. My experience at Canary Wharf showed me there are jobs out there, but it is difficult to get to see people face-to-face to find out about them.”
Sadly, this fairy tale isn’t going to replicate itself in the world of corporate law, where even the procedures to arrange work experience require the approval of several layers of HR staff. The Bar is a bit more flexible in terms of mini-pupillages, but no one these days is going to get a pupillage other than through the standard application procedure.
Admittedly, the odds are a bit better at smaller firms – one trainee I know landed a training contract at a firm in Berwick-upon-Tweed by taking to the streets with his CV (but with high street practices getting squeezed by bulk providers like Co-op Legal Services, and taking on fewer trainees, this sort of scenario is going to get rarer).
For paralegal jobs – one of the few areas where firms often have no pre-defined recruitment procedure – there’s always a chance that a cold call or a chance meeting could yield a job. But the mundane reality is that jobless law graduates are better off spending their time knocking out applications via the conventional route rather than knocking on doors – or, if they fancy doing something different, dropping me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org (we’re looking for an intern).