Does appearing on The X Factor help you get a training contract?

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By Liz Wong on

Legal Cheek‘s Liz Wong meets Queen Mary law student and R&B singer Garry Caprani


15,700 Twitter followers. An appearance on a hit talent show. Favourite subject: tort law. Garry Caprani is hardly your typical law student.

As most students scramble for legal work experience this summer, Caprani, who has just completed the second year of an undergraduate law degree at Queen Mary University of London, is on another adventure — to pursue a potential career as a recording music artist. He is doing this while acting as a new student brand manager for major City law firm Berwin Leighton Paisner. Over coffee in Haggerston, east London, earlier this week, he reflects:

“I’m trying out music this summer with events in Leicester Square and Liverpool, and I’ll be working on strategies as the new manager.”

Born in London and raised in Spain, Caprani is a mash-up of a rising star R&B heartthrob and a wannabe lawyer. Following his debut last summer on The X Factor — in which he reached the Boot Camp stage of the competition — he is caught between two worlds as he plots his career. One is music; the other is the classic solicitor route to a commercial firm. Caprani mentions an interest in general commercial, media and IP law, without losing focus on an alternative career in music, continuing:

“There’s a split in the middle, I’m a realist. The music industry is really difficult to get into, and I do see myself working in a law firm … but when I look back 20 years time, I just don’t want to have any regrets.”

Caprani is well known. Alongside his Twitter following, he has over 3,000 subscribers on his YouTube channel with updated music videos covering pop hits and originals, with a fan base via Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. Most recently, during his year as vice president of the Queen Mary Law Society, he started a commercial awareness blog — The Commercial Cartel — with the hopes of gaining the same degree of attraction he has received from music fans. He explains:

“I want to build a successful website, and expand it this year by not just remaining with commercial issues, but politics, lifestyle and more involvement from other people.”

Ambitious and confident, Caprani is reluctant to give up on what he admits is the riskier path to pursue his dream as a music star. So why the added investment and stress in studying law in university?

“I enjoy the idea of law because it permeates across everything, all foundations are based on law. I think everyone should study law — it’s in absolutely everything we do. The fact that we’re here, we went for coffee; we’ve entered into a contract,” he responds.

The decision to combine a law degree with extra-curricular music aspirations stems from advice received from Caprani’s family. Both career options are an expression of his vocal strengths, debating and singing, as he explains:

“I always liked arguing with people so my mum said I should probably do something like law, and my sister always did music when she was younger and she was quite good, so I wanted to do the same. I started with karaoke, and then started winning singing competitions.”

Caprani gives calculated answers when discussing his legal future, and emphasises some commitment to commercial law. When asked about how music may help in an interview with a law firm he hesitates, and suggests that mentioning The X Factor is more an indirect tool to help him remain a prominent memory in the minds of firms’ graduate recruiters.

He is more effusive when talking about his approach to songwriting. He explains that his original song, entitled ‘Scar’, was an artistic response to a Twitter message he received from a follower on the subject of self-harm.

“The message was really deep and it’s quite a good song,” recalls Caprani.

He goes on to confess that he enjoys penning tracks about romance:

“I like writing about girls, it’s like a go-to thing. You write your best songs from personal experience. I write my best songs in the heat of the moment when something happens to me. I feel that emotion and respond quickly through music.”

Despite pressing career decisions, Caprani is relaxed about the future. Both law and music are equally competitive, he reckons, with the advantage that law may have a more objective selection process; decisions are based on grades and experience — rather than factors like popularity and likeability favoured by music bosses.

Certainly, Caprani continues, marketing oneself to a panel of law firm partners is more intimidating than facing producers because of the demanding intellectual agenda of the legal world. For now, though, Caprani’s options remain open. He beams:

“I am anxious about both, but confident at the same time.”

Watch Garry Caprani on YouTube