FROM A FORMER LAW LECTURER
To Help You Survive Law School
Many students get discouraged from getting a law degree because they buy into the myth of not finding a job after law school. It's true that there are many law graduates who struggle to find a decent job after they've graduated. But this usually happens in situations where the students are only focused on getting the highest grades and don't take any initiative to get some experience in the legal profession. While it is crucial to build a theoretical foundation in law, it is also equally important to familiarise yourself with real-world scenarios and situations, so you can actually apply the law in real life. Some students believe that only grades will define their worth in the job market once they have graduated. But those types of expectations are just unrealistic. If you are keen to make yourself more employable after your graduation from law school, don’t fall for the myths mentioned below.
Myth 1: You should start looking for a job after you graduate
One of the major mistakes that some law students make is that they wait until they have graduated to gain any real-life experience in the legal profession. They believe that they should only focus on their studies and earn a degree with high grades, so they can get the most coveted positions in the job market. The reality is that those students who have acquired experience at a law firm during their studies are more likely to get job offers, even if their grades are not all that high.
Why does this happen? Well, if you think about it, most law firms are not looking to provide you with the basic training on the job. They expect you to be familiar with the procedural rules and systems at least to an extent when you join, even if you are doing a legal traineeship. That's why they prefer candidates who might not have the highest grades, but who have the right combination of academic qualifications and hands-on legal experience. Now, the question is where can you get legal work experience during your studies? Some of the options include the following:
All of the above options are perfectly fine, so don’t feel discouraged if you have been volunteering with the Citizens’ Advice Bureau but have never been offered as summer placement at an international law firm. Just make sure that the area of law you will be working on is one that interests you, or that you at least want to explore.
Myth 2: You can’t handle working and studying at the same time
Now that you know there are multitude of opportunities for you to explore if you are willing to work, the question that might pop in your head is “Will I be able to study and work at the same time?”. Many students believe that they cannot work part-time in any law-related position during their studies because they won't be able to cope with the burden of studies at the university and working at the same time. But this only happens if you are not making the most of all the academic help available out there, especially online.
If you attempt to do everything on your own – from writing your law essays to finding a job in the legal profession – you might not be able to find any balance between working and studying. Fortunately, there is a lot of help available to law students who want to work and study at the same time. Here are a few examples of strategies you can use to achieve a better work-study balance during your degree:
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Myth 3: You should aim to get a job at a magic circle law firm
Another mistake many students make is that they start believing that they have to work at one of those 'magic circle' law firms, which are considered to be the top law firms globally in terms of their employee strength and revenues. The fame surrounding those law firms and the resources which they have makes it easy for law schools to encourage their students to submit applications to those 'magic circle' firms. If you manage to get into a ‘magic circle’ law firm after graduating you will definitely help your law school boost its graduation statistics. However, working at one of the ‘magic circle’ law firms might not be the best option for you for a variety of reasons.
For starters, big law firms often expect their employees to work long hours, leaving little time for socialising, taking care of your health or just simply relaxing. The stress of constant competition and work might be too much for you to handle at this stage of your law journey, unless you have worked in this type of an environment in the past and you know it is a good fit for you. Yes, you can learn a lot in fast-paced environments, but that comes at a cost of your physical and, sometimes, even mental health since it makes you prone to develop stress and anxiety. If you think that a ‘magic circle’ law firm might not be the right place for you to kickstart your legal career, you can instead look for work in charities, NGOs, policy-focused environments and small law firms. You can also decide to become an in-house lawyer, which is yet another career option to explore that often doesn’t involve unnecessary amounts of stress.
So, is finding a job after law school difficult? It can be, if you are only running after grades and academic excellence during your studies and not paying any attention to finding a part-time position in which you can gain work experience. But if you manage to gain real-world experience in the legal profession by following the above advice, this will definitely increase your chances of getting a law-related job after you have graduated. You can surely do it, you just need a little bit of help and some smart planning. Best of luck!