If I could go back and speak to my younger self, there is a lot I would tell her about the things to do (and not to do) as she enters into adulthood.
When it comes to work, the main thing that I wish I knew when I was 18 years old and facing the daunting task of working out what to do with my life is that is that it is absolutely fine not to have it all figured out right there and then.
Varying routes into law
At 18 years old, there is so much pressure to know what you’re aiming towards and what steps you should take to get there. There is a lot of pressure to choose the ‘right’ university, the ‘right’ course, the ‘right’ career, but since entering the working world and meeting many legal professionals, one of the things I have found most interesting to learn about is their different routes to where they are now.
Some people (like me), went down the ‘traditional’ route (university, LPC, training contract), but many others have come in to the same environment through completely different paths. Some have become lawyers through apprenticeships, the CILEX programme, and some have even had completely different non-legal careers before joining the firm.
Research what works best for you
Of course, it can be a bit overwhelming to be looking into lots of different options. The best advice I can give to those of you who are reading this and wondering where on earth you should start with your ‘career plan’ is to take time out to really research what options are out there for you. There are many ways you can conduct this research, if you’re reading this blog then it probably means that you’re already looking into your options which is a great start, there are so many great online resources out there.
Maybe grab a notebook and start noting down the things that interest you as you’re looking around. Make a particular note of the websites that you find helpful as you may want to return to these as and when you are making decisions about your next steps. Although websites are a great starting points, I have found out the most by talking to other people. If you have connections in law then that is great, use them!
But if you don’t know many lawyers, start trying to make connections for yourself. Networking events are really useful and although in person ones are few and far between at the moment, many firms are running online work experience programmes which are a great way to start to engage with people in the legal profession. I attended one of these a few weeks ago and spoke to the students about my path into law. I attended this with two other colleagues and we spoke about how the three of us had gone down completely different paths to get to the same position. All of us took the ‘right’ routes to get to where we wanted to be, even if those routes were completely different!
There are many ways to get where you want to be and you need to consider what the best option is for you, knowing that is not really any ‘right or wrong’ way to get to where you want to be. Best of luck!