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How to secure work experience through networking

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Be confident — and then follow through

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University of West London criminology and psychology graduate Danniy Galasso (pictured below), 22, managed to secure a week’s work experience at Fletchers, the UK’s largest medical negligence law firm, during the networking session after Legal Cheek‘s recent ‘Why the law needs people who see the world differently’ event.

She tells Legal Cheek Careers how she did it.

Legal Cheek Careers: You’ve just completed a placement at Fletchers that you landed completely off your own back at our recent event. How did that come about?

Danniy Galasso: During the panel discussion I really enjoyed listening to Ed Fletcher, the chief executive of Fletchers. He seemed really positive and passionate, and obviously had a great attitude. That drew me to him and I wanted to hear more. So I resolved to try to speak to him afterwards. When the Q&A finished and it was announced that there would be an opportunity to network with the speakers I immediately made my way towards him.

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Legal Cheek Careers: All the panellists had a lot of students trying to speak to them. How did you battle your way through the crowds?

Galasso: Several students were quicker than me but I had an advantage in that I had asked the last question during the panel session, so Ed remembered my face. There hadn’t been time to fully deal with my question — about how to get a training contract before doing the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) — so he was keen to continue his response. He advised me to get as much work experience as I could before committing to the very high cost of law school. At that point I thought, “Why not?”, and I asked him if I could do work experience with him.

Legal Cheek Careers: We admire your cheek. What did he say?

Galasso: He gave me his card and told me to email him my CV. So as soon as I got home, while the experience was still fresh in my mind, I emailed him. I received a response a few days later from Fletchers inviting me to do a week’s work experience with them.

Legal Cheek Careers: You live in Swindon, but Fletchers is based in the North West. Was that an issue?

Galasso: No, my older sister was kind enough to drive me and we got a hotel in Southport for the week. I’m open minded to working anywhere and it was a great opportunity that I wasn’t going to miss out on.

Legal Cheek Careers: How has the week you spent at Fletchers helped you in your plans to become a lawyer?

Galasso: It has helped me look beyond criminal law, which to date has been my area of focus having studied criminology. In fact I had no experience of personal injury work before. It’s really opened my eyes — medical negligence is an area that doesn’t get very much recognition but it’s obvious from doing the placement how important it is and how much support clients need.

There were a lot of surprising cases that I was able to gain an insight into, and I wasn’t expecting to be so touched. When you hear everyone’s story — for example, elderly people who have been mistreated or terminally ill people who have had their needs ignored — you want to help them. Now I’m looking at careers in this area.

Legal Cheek Careers: What is the next step?

I’m currently seeking paralegal work. Something entry level, to get me started. It doesn’t necessarily have to be in London. I need experience, and ideally a training contract, before starting the GDL.

What is clear is that if you want to become a solicitor, you can’t just hang around — you have to make it happen. But I have come this far, becoming the first person in my family, alongside my sister, to get a degree, after doing an HND in public services from New College Swindon. So hopefully with hard work I will be able to make this next step.

Fletchers is the largest medical negligence law firm in the UK. It offers 30 graduate positions each year and four summer vacation scheme places.

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