Employability newsletter Bloomsbury
September/October 2013 edition Careers Centre opening times Monday
9am - 7pm
9am – 7pm
9am – 5.30pm
9am – 7pm
9am – 5pm
10am – 5pm
Sunday 10am – 5pm (teaching weekends only) To make an appointment, call in at the office on the ground floor of Ridgmount Building, or call us on 01483 216681
Pro Bono department opening times: Monday - Friday 9.00am - 5.30pm Come to see us in S126 on the 1st floor of the Store Street Building, call us on 0148 3216528, or email us on probono-bloomsbury@lawcol. co.uk
Welcome to the September/ October edition Welcome to The University of Law! For many of you, this is all brand new, and for others, you will be returning for another challenging year. No matter what stage you’re at, we can help you along the way, whether you are searching for work experience, pupillage, a training contract, or any other work placement or opportunity. Over the coming term, we have a range of careers activities to help you to find out more about the recruitment process. Do keep an eye on Elite > My Employability > Bloomsbury Employability Service > Careers events for information on forthcoming careers workshops and employer talks from September onwards. Subsequent editions of this newsletter will contain details of the careers workshops and employer talks for each month. There’s an article in this newsletter about how undertaking Pro Bono can improve your employability, and some of the projects on offer. Do have a look at the Pro Bono section on Elite (My Employability>Bloomsbury Employability Information) for further inspiration and information. Also, don’t forget to explore the Future Lawyers Network - www.law.ac.uk/ futurelawyers or access it from the My Employability tab on Elite - which includes the following award-winning 10 StEPs (Student Employability Programme) with careers handouts and information to support you on your journey to a legal career. 1: Understanding the legal market 2: Assessing your employability 3: Planning your legal career 4: Researching legal recruiters 5: Gaining experience and making contact 6: Writing legal CVs and covering letters 7: Completing application forms 8: Preparing for interviews 9: Preparing for assessments 10:Managing your career Before attending careers workshops or appointments with a Careers Consultant, please do read the StEP relevant to the workshop theme or the subject to be discussed in your appointment. Staffing: Over the summer there have been some changes to Careers staff at Bloomsbury: Tim Bradshaw is now based at the Bloomsbury Centre, while Bridget Lavin and Candy Kobrak now divide their time between Bloomsbury and Moorgate. Candy Kobrak Editor page 1 of 5
The following StEPs are particularly useful for you to have a look at in September and October. For further information, go to www.law.ac.uk/ futurelawyers or the My Employability tab on Elite.
StEP 1: Understanding the legal market You need to gain an understanding of the legal services market in order to work out where you could see yourself fitting in. To help, there are some key decisions that you should start thinking about: 1. Do you want to be a solicitor or barrister? 2. What type of legal employer do you want to work for? 3. What sort of law (practice areas) appeal to you? You also need to research the number of opportunities available and the level of competition for training contracts and pupillage.
StEP 2: Assessing your employability Entry to the legal profession is competitive, and it is not possible to give a definitive answer as to whether someone will or will not succeed in securing a training contract or pupillage. However, everyone can take steps to improve their employability. What recruiters look for: 1. Academic attainment 2. Work experience i) Legal work experience ii) Non legal work experience 3. Skills and competencies
StEP 3: Planning your legal career To qualify as a lawyer you will typically spend around eight years in education and training post- GCSE; and it is essential to plan your route through those years. You will need to juggle three different, but inter-related, timelines (education, experience and recruitment), in order to maximise both your time and your chances of success. Three timelines to factor in to your planning: 1. Education 2. Experience 3. Recruitment
Mentoring programme Our mentoring programme will run again this year, giving students the opportunity to receive advice from, and to network with, practising lawyers. The scheme has been running for several years now, and it is open to intending solicitors and barristers. However, due to the sponsor system at the Inns of Court, we have many more solicitor mentors than barrister mentors. The mentors come from a wide variety of legal backgrounds such as barristers’ chambers, high street, legal aid, medium-sized and international firms, the Government Legal Service and the Crown Prosecution Service. They range from current trainees/pupils to partners and senior barristers.
Key dates Applications open – 9 September 2013 Applications close – 17 October 2013 Briefing/training/launch events – November 2013 Programme dates – November 2013-May 2014 Look out for the email you have been sent giving you information about how to apply to the mentoring programme. You can also find information about the programme on Elite>My Employability>Bloomsbury Employability Service>Mentoring.
Tips for your general careers strategy • Don’t leave your career search too late. If you do, you may find you have missed some key closing dates and events. • Plan your career search so that it does not interfere with your coursework. If deadlines clash, prepare for them well in advance. • If you are a GDL student, decide whether you want to be a barrister or a solicitor. Go to StEP 1: Understanding the legal market at www.law. ac.uk/futurelawyers or the My Employability tab on Elite. • If you don’t have a legal CV yet, write one. Go to StEP 6: Writing legal CVs and covering letters at www.law.ac.uk/futurelawyers or the My Employability tab on Elite. Once you have attempted a first draft, make an appointment with the Careers Service for feedback. • Good academic results are essential. If you don’t have the required 2:1 degree, think about how else you can demonstrate your academic ability to employers. Were there individual modules that you obtained a 1st in? Have you had more recent positive grades, for example, on your Master’s course? Do you have other intellectual but not strictly academic achievements from your employment/work experience/extra-curricular activities? • If you don’t have any, or don’t have a lot of, legal work experience at the moment, do try and get some. Apply for vacation schemes/minipupillages. Volunteer at your local law centre/Citizens Advice Bureau/ court. Participate in the opportunities that our Pro Bono Service has to offer, even if the type of work available does not match your practice area interests. Law firms/chambers want to see that you are committed to a career as a lawyer, and seeing legal work experience on your CV will help convince them of that. Additionally, duties and responsibilities carried out during legal work experience in a specific practice area will be useful in other practice areas, and the skills learnt will be transferable as well – it will be up to you to emphasise this on your future application forms. • Don’t just regard work experience as an opportunity to build up your CV. It is also an essential part of your networking strategy, and a great chance to make useful contacts for the future, so keep in touch with people you meet there, and let them know how you are progressing on your course. page 2 of 5
StEP 6: Writing legal CVs and covering letters The curriculum vitae (CV) is the traditional method of application, and is widely used throughout the legal profession. You will still need a CV, even if you are applying to organisations that use application forms, for two main reasons. Firstly, the information on your CV forms the basis of many of the answers you will need to give on application forms and is therefore a helpful resource; and secondly, having an up to date CV to hand is useful for applying for work experience, or to pass on to a useful contact. Once you have your CV in good shape, you can turn your attention to the covering letter. This is not an optional extra with a CV, but an essential part of the application.
• Keep a close eye on application deadlines for vacation schemes, minipupillages, training contracts and pupillages at www.lawcareers.net. • Excellent interpersonal skills are high on employers’ checklists. As a lawyer, it will be important for you to cultivate good working relationships both with your colleagues and your clients. How can you demonstrate you have these skills on your application form? Take advantage of current opportunities available to you to develop your existing interpersonal skills – for example, joining a new society at the University. • Be proactive, and give employers evidence of this through examples of your work experience or extra-curricular achievements that demonstrate your drive, initiative, leadership skills, and motivation. Have you ever been captain of a sports team, or chairperson of a society? Have you sought out and obtained work abroad? Remember to emphasise what your examples say about you. • Attend our employer talks (My Employability>Bloomsbury Employability Information>Careers events) and Law Fairs (http://www.lawcareers.net/ Information/Diary). Make sure you research the employers with whom you wish to speak • Participate in our Mentoring Scheme. • All law firms and barristers’ chambers look for applicants with strong commercial awareness nowadays – even if they specialise in noncommercial/ non-corporate practice areas. Why is this? Because in a difficult economic market, it is even more important to organisations that their lawyers understand how to attract and retain clients; in order to do this, lawyers need to be conscious of the type of practical, businessdriven advice that their clients usually seek. Therefore, it is essential for you to develop a broad knowledge of the commercial market, and to do this you need to keep up-to-date with the financial press. In addition, you need to gain commercial work experience. This can be done in a number of ways. For example: take part in the FTSE League Game that the University offers; think about expanding on your interests to provide more commercial experience – such as private tutoring – or setting up a relevant club/society at the University.
Pro Bono and your employability Our Recruitment Round this term ends on 4 October, but don’t panic! There is plenty of time throughout the rest of the year to apply again, and if you have been unsuccessful with getting your first choice this time round, we hope that you are pleased with the alternative that we have been able to offer you. Look out on the noticeboard for partner advertisements, but also for our emails with alerts about new projects starting up. Pro Bono at the University of Law is about boosting your CV to add the legal experience that you might be missing. It is also about enhancing your skills and practising what you are being taught. Our projects vary in time commitment and skill level, from interviewing Legal Advice Centre clients and subsequently drafting an advice letter, to three hours in the Centre shadowing a volunteer solicitor giving advice over the telephone and drafting an accurate attendance note. Working as a triage volunteer helps with time management and case management skills, as you juggle a number of client queries and action them in a timely fashion. Doing the leg work as a McKenzie Friend, through our projects for the National Centre for Domestic Violence (NCDV), the Personal Support Unit and the Lambeth County Court Runner Scheme, involves more time commitment, but is worthwhile in terms of experience, networking, building client relationships and legal awareness.
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Dates for your diary: Inns of Court Dates 1 November 2013 – Closing date for BPTC Inns of Court scholarships (if starting the BPTC in 2014) 31 May 2014 – Closing date for Inns of Court membership applications (if starting the BPTC in 2014) • You do not need to be a member of an Inn before you apply to it for a scholarship. • If you are already a member of an Inn, you cannot apply for a scholarship at another Inn. You should apply only to your own Inn. Come along to the Inns talk on Monday 30 September – details on Elite>My Employability>Bloomsbury Employability Service>Careers events
Case study Rebecca Willcox: GDL FT and LPC FT 2011-2013 (degree in English and Classical Literature from Leeds) Training contract with Hamlins to start 2013 Since January 2011, I have sent and received about 600 emails, and goodness knows how many more hard-copy letters in my search for a training contract. The end result? Five work experience placements leading to two training contract offers. The first was received during my LPC finals, the second just a week after exams finished. So, my advice is simple: don’t give up! The first hurdle for me was getting to grips with how to write a good training contract application. The careers department workshops were really helpful in this regard, showing me how to demonstrate the ways in which my media knowledge and office skills could be developed as a trainee. Following that, I applied successfully for a mentor, and was paired with in-house counsel for a national newspaper. He suggested the names of partners to contact who might be interested in someone with my background. This was how I first made a connection with Hamlins. Obviously, this sort of insider knowledge will not be available to every student. However, there is nothing to stop you doing some research to find out which lawyers have, for example, written articles in the legal press about issues that interest you. You can then write to these individuals directly, explaining why you are drawn to their area of expertise and asking for work experience or shadowing opportunities. Also, it takes very little effort to attend events that the careers department, Law Society and/or law firms organise (see their websites) – I have also made connections this way and gained valuable insight into the legal profession. You just can’t be shy about approaching people and asking for five minutes of their time. (The networking workshops will help if you are!)
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Normally Monday to Friday at either: 12pm -1pm and 3pm – 4pm or 12pm-1pm and 2pm-3pm (these times are subject to change, so please check on Elite or with the Careers Service if Quick Queries are running, and for the times that day) Quick Queries are short 20 minute drop-in sessions for you to speak with a Careers Adviser face-to-face or by telephone. Sign up for these 5 minutes before the start of the session (unless you are a part-time student – in this case you can just sign up on the day) either in person at the desk, or by phone. These are provided on a first-come firstserved basis.
September/October careers workshops and employer talks Please go to Elite>My Employability>Bloomsbury Employability Service>Careers events for further details and instructions on how to sign up. Date
Mon 30 September Tues 1 October Tues 1 October Wed 2 October Thurs 3 October Mon 7 October Mon 7 October Tues 8 October
Name of Event
Workshop Legal CVs and cover letters Introduction to the Bar virtual Workshop workshop Talk SEO Legal CVs and cover letters Workshop virtual workshop Workshop Networking: Working a room Association of Asian Women Talk Lawyers (MOORGATE) Young Maritime Professionals Talk Talk: ‘A career as a shipping lawyer’
Thurs 10 October Talk Sat 12 October Sat 12 October Mon 14 October Mon 14 October Tues 15 October
Workshop Workshop Workshop Talk Talk
Ince & Co (MOORGATE)
Legal CVs and cover letters Application forms Application forms SEO (MOORGATE) Fisher Meredith Trowers & Hamlins Tues 15 October Talk (MOORGATE) Application forms virtual Wed 16 October Workshop workshop Thurs17 October Talk Legal Services Act Panel Mon 21 October Talk DLA Piper ‘A career as a legal aid Tues 22 October Talk lawyer’: G T Stewart Thurs 24 October Talk Accutrainee
2-4pm 6-7pm 6pm 12-1pm 10am - 12pm 6pm 6pm 6pm 11am - 1pm 2-4pm 1-3pm 6pm 6pm 6pm 12-1pm 5.45pm 6pm 6pm 6pm
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