Employability newsletter Bloomsbury
April 2013 edition
Careers Centre opening times:
Welcome to the April edition
Monday 9am – 7pm Tuesday 9am – 7pm Wednesday 9am – 7pm Thursday 9am – 7pm Friday 9am – 5pm Saturday 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
The Law & Justice Fair at the end of March was a huge success, and thank you to all students who attended!
Pro Bono department opening times: Monday - Friday 9am - 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@ law.ac.uk
Rather than winding down towards the end of the academic year, we still have several careers events in April and May. Of particular note will be the alternative employers and paralegal talks. Please keep checking Elite for updates, and do sign up for these events. The Employability Service has won the Association of Graduate Recruiters’ ‘Best preparation for work initiative’ for our StEP programme (more details about this award in next month’s newsletter). So, if you haven’t done so already, do check out the StEPs on ELITE>My Employability or www.law. ac.uk/employability. For those students who are planning to apply for training contracts at law firms with July deadlines, you may want to take advantage of the holiday time before your exams to work on your application forms. Some firms do read applications as they receive them, and may also begin to conduct some pre-selection. For BPTC students, now that the Pupillage Gateway is open, it is advisable to start working on your pupillage applications. Have a look at the information within this newsletter for details and advice. Additionally, read all about Alice Hill’s, Pro Bono’s new Supervising Solicitor, path to the University of Law, and the latest Pro Bono initiatives on offer. And, finally, have a look at some little-known London laws on page 2. Candy Kobrak Editor
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Did you know? Under Section 54 of the Metropolitan Police Act 1839, it is illegal to carry planks of wood along a pavement. It is illegal to die in the Houses of Parliament: as the building is considered a royal palace, the deceased would be entitled to a state funeral. Until 1976, black cabs were required to carry a bale of hay and a sack of oats ‘for the horse’. In the nineteenth century, it was illegal for women to eat chocolate on public transport. In 1888, all cyclists were legally obliged to ring their bells continuously whilst in motion
Who is the new Pro Bono Supervising Solicitor at Bloomsbury? Name: Alice Hill What do you do here at the University?: I am running the Streetlaw pro bono opportunity. I work with students to devise, prepare and present workshops on various legal topics to community groups, schools and colleges. Among others, we are currently working with a youth centre for young people between 16 and 24 who are at risk of homelessness, and with a centre for newly arrived migrant women from outside the EU. Streetlaw is an opportunity to work on a client presentation as part a team, and to develop core skills needed to be a good lawyer, such as legal research skills, oral communication and time management. The challenge is to explain the law in plain English, and to highlight the relevance of the law to the audience, while making the workshop fun and interactive. Being able to explain complex law simply is a valuable skill in practice. Apart from the benefits to students of the Streetlaw programme, it is possible to make a real difference to the clients by empowering them to understand and to use their legal rights. How did you get into law?: I studied History at Bristol University. After University, I became interested in going into law, and I wrote to the High Street firms near my home asking for work. I was taken on as an office assistant by one of the firms, and was given the opportunity to carry out research and to sit in on client meetings. One of the solicitors there had previously worked in a city law firm and she was very helpful in preparing me for my training contract interviews. I secured a training contract at Taylor Wessing (then Taylor Joynson Garrett) and did my law conversion and LPC here at the University of Law in Store Street (then the College of Law). How did you develop your career?: I chose to qualify into the Employment and Pensions department of Taylor Wessing, and specialised in Pensions law. I acted for the trustees and employers of large pension schemes to ensure that the schemes complied with the legal requirements. I also acted in pensions litigation, most exciting being the National Bus pensions litigation, when hundreds of millions of pounds of surplus in the pension funds, which had been wrongly returned to the Government, was recovered and redistributed among members of the schemes. As an associate, I lectured for the Association of Pension Lawyers, and became interested in training. As I developed this, I was made the group’s professional support lawyer, and was responsible for knowledge management and for delivering training to trainees, associates and partners on pensions law. I was also involved in the firm’s corporate social responsibility programme, and became interested in the value of pro bono work to charities and community groups. After ten years at Taylor Wessing, I was ready for a new challenge, and my interest in pro bono, and my experience training and supervising trainee solicitors, has brought me to the University.
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Pupillage Gateway The Pupillage Gateway opens on 1 April 2013. You can use the Gateway to apply for up to 12 pupillages. The closing date for applications is 30 April 2013. The Pupillage Gateway can be found at www.pupillagegateway.com. The Gateway includes: • The application form for pupillages • Instructions on how to use the Gateway • FAQs regarding the Gateway (including contact details of the Bar Council for help) • A sample application form which can be printed out and used as a guide • The timetable for the Gateway itself. The Careers Service at Bloomsbury is putting together a virtual workshop about Pupillage Gateway which we hope will be delivered over the Easter break so you can access it from the comfort of your home. The Careers Service has delivered a handful of these popular virtual workshops which are online workshops, delivered by Careers Consultants, with a chat box facility for questions from students. Watch this space for further details. For now, though: 1. Read ALL the instructions for the Gateway carefully. 2. Take your time completing each application: the Gateway is open 1-30 April 2013, but you should still take your time over researching sets and thinking about how you answer each section. 3. Be succinct, yet informative, when writing your answers. You do not have to use up the whole word count! 4. Do NOT leave the application form to the last minute. 5. Remember, help is available from the Careers Service.
Pro Bono projects New Projects Environmental Law Foundation @ University of Law This is a unique project advising individual clients who contact the Environmental Law Foundation (ELF) looking for advice and to use ‘the law to protect their local environment and quality of life’. Clients will be booked into the Legal Advice Centre, and students will take instructions from that client under the supervision of one of the Pro Bono Team’s solicitors. Students then research the advice and draft the advice letter. The clinic will initially run fortnightly, and we will take student applications for this opportunity from 26th March onwards. Family Law Advice Clinic A telephone advice service with external family solicitors from Irwin Mitchell, supervised through the Legal Advice Clinic. Students can sign up to this through Elite right now. Students will take instructions from clients, and then shadow the solicitor giving the advice during an evening telephone appointment, writing up the attendance note afterwards. This service will start on 10 April, and we are looking for students now!
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Existing projects Mediation Telephone Line This was the result of a joint partnership to maintain a service that was previously being provided by the Ministry of Justice. LawWorks provide a free mediation service through their network of mediators, and through the University and its other partners, Mayer Brown and Siemens. Students provide information to clients about mediation (as opposed to going to court), take instructions and then assess the case for its suitability for a LawWorks mediation referral. It is a good opportunity to learn about the mediation process, to develop client confidence through speaking with clients on the phone and also take part in a national scheme.
How to find paralegal work Requirements for undertaking paralegal work While academic criteria are vital when applying for training contracts, they are also important in paralegal recruitment. International City firms and London offices of US firms, for example, tend to set the most stringent criteria (strong A levels, a 2:1 and the LPC). However, firms in greater London and the regions tend to be more flexible. How a vacancy is advertised (whether via an agency, in the press or via a law school) will also influence the requirements. For example, firms that use recruitment agencies will probably require high level qualifications and some experience, typically six months. Requirements are high as the recruitment agency needs to justify the fee it receives from the firm to handle the vacancy. Alternatively, if a firm advertises locally or via a law school, the requirements are likely to be less demanding. Note that JobSearch (the University’s vacancy database on ELITE > My Employability) frequently advertises many paralegal vacancies for a wide range of law firms, as well as for in-house legal departments, so do check it regularly.
Requirements for undertaking paralegal work There are three key ways to obtain paralegal work: • Legal recruitment agencies • Direct speculative applications to firms and in-house legal departments • Advertised vacancies.
Legal recruitment agencies Legal recruitment agencies handle both temporary (usually six months or longer) and permanent roles. Temporary roles are ideal for those seeking practical legal experience ahead of a training contract or pupillage. Permanent roles are intended primarily for career paralegals and those who have decided not to pursue qualification as a solicitor or barrister. If you apply for a permanent role, you may need to convince the agent and employer that you are no longer seeking a training contract or pupillage. It is important to remember that firms who recruit paralegals through agencies pay a substantial fee for the service. As a result, they tend to want high-achieving candidates in academic and/or experience terms, to justify the cost of using an agency. Firms that use agencies tend to be large or to be in-house legal departments. However, by no means are all paralegal roles placed with agencies. Many law firms will not use agencies for paralegal roles because of the fees involved. These firms rely on speculative applications made directly to the Recruitment Partner or to page 4 of 6
Quick Queries: Normally Monday to Friday at either: 11am – 12pm and 2pm – 3pm or 12pm – 1pm and 3pm – 4pm (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-toface 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). These are provided on a first-come firstserved basis.
Human Resources (see below under ‘Direct speculative applications’). Most agencies require six months’ previous paralegal experience but some may accept less, especially if you have strong academic qualifications, or if you only want a temporary position.
Direct speculative applications For law firms, send a CV and covering letter to either the Litigation or Corporate Head Partner, or to Human Resources. If it is a smaller firm, try the Recruitment Partner or Practice Manager. For in-house departments and public bodies, write to the Head of the Legal Department or General Counsel (contact reception for details). State when and for how long you will be available. If you have a training contract or pupillage, say so, including details of with whom and the start date. Give evidence that you have relevant practical experience and skills such as IT, time management, organisation, drafting and research. Ideally, you should approach employers one to two months before you can start work. To be considered seriously for a permanent role, it may be worth stating in your letter that you are committed to a career as a paralegal and will no longer be seeking a training contract or pupillage. Private practice: Several agents we spoke to advised that LPC and BPTC students should contact employers directly as many firms are reluctant to pay an agency fee for a junior paralegal role. Some firms have their own database of available would-be paralegals as a result of such speculative applications. (If you are also using a recruitment agency, let the agency know which firms you have approached directly). In-house: Direct applications are probably your best chance of securing a temporary paralegal role with an in-house legal department. Only permanent positions will be placed with an agency, and LPC and BPTC graduates are unlikely to be considered for these, unless they can convince the employer they are committed to stay and/or the company has a policy of taking on some paralegals with a view to offering them a training contract at a later date. Public sector: Employers in this sector are more likely to advertise their vacancies because of their commitment to equal opportunities. However, short-term jobs may not be advertised and direct speculative applications may give you advance warning of when and where a vacancy is to be advertised.
Case study Omar Salem: GDL 2011-12 (BA Philosophy, Politics and Economics, Oxford University) Training Contract with Linklaters LLP These are some of my top tips on securing a training contract, based on my experience: 1. Apply, apply, apply – it’s a simple fact that the more training contracts you apply for, the greater your chances of getting one. There is simply no way getting round the work of filling in application form after application form. You should also get the Careers Service or a friend to look over you applications to make sure they are as good as possible. 2. Get a mentor – The University of Law runs an excellent mentoring scheme. My mentor, Tara Johnson of Holman Fenwick Willan, was invaluable in helping me hone my applications and deepen my understanding of corporate law.
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3. Do a mock interview – once you have secured some interviews, you should book a mock interview with the Careers Service. They are really friendly, but will put you through your paces to make sure you are prepared for interview. It’s an old but true adage that practice makes perfect. 4. Address your weaknesses – every candidate will have some elements of their CV that are stronger than others. You should, of course, try to accentuate your strengths, but also look for ways to address weaknesses. In my case, I was a career changer coming from a noncommercial background hoping to pursue a career in corporate law. I therefore signed up for FooTSE, the University of Law share investment competition. This may seem like a rather minor step, but it showed that I was committed to a career in corporate law, increased my commercial understanding and was a great talking point at interview. I also made sure that in my applications and interviews I highlighted the transferable skills I had acquired in my earlier career.
April 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
Name of Event
Thurs 25 April
Mon 29 April
Young Maritime Professionals 6pm "Careers in Shipping Law"
Tues 30 April
"A career as a local government lawyer"
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