Brighton Law Graduates: Where Are They Now? And What Advice Do They Have?
As a law student I have often thought to myself – Where do I want to take my degree? Should I do a masters? If I want to practice law further should I do the LPC, BPTC, or CILEx? Do I even want to pursue a career in law, or should I expand on my other interests? And so, for the already bewildered student, having to decide what to do after university is a daunting task.
Now that I am in my third year, this is pretty much a daily occurrence.
One way students can sift through some of the haze can come from speaking to professionals, trainees, and graduates at networking events and job fairs. This is a great place to start, however, some students can find it strange getting advice from someone who, more than likely graduated with a different degree, from a different university, into a very different job market than that which we face today.
So how transferable are their experiences to the world I will face after graduation? What have students facing the same situations as myself done?
For this reason I thought it would be great to explore the different paths recent Brighton Law students have taken after graduation; and see what advice they had for current students!
So who responded?
I received a huge response from a wide range of graduates, who were all more than happy to share their experiences and advice.
Of those who responded, around 20% of them had studied PGDips, and 80% were LLB students. 98% of everyone who responded had gone on to pursue further education, training, or found employment. The other 2% travelled; something which can be equally as beneficial to your career prospects, as well as personal and professional development (See this article for more information).
As can be expected, many law students went on to pursue careers in the legal sector in one form or another…
What they did: Pupil barristers, qualified solicitors, trainee solicitors, paralegals, legal interns, legal assistants, legal recruitment agents, public defenders, offender rehabilitation staff, prison officers, etc…
Where they worked: McMillan Williams Solicitors, Magic Circle Firms, an International Icelandic Law Firm, a Swiss Multi-National Drilling Company, G2 Legal Recruitment, Kennedy’s, Bridge McFarland Solicitors, Leigh Day Solicitors, 25 Bedford Row Chambers, The Mortgage Claims Bureau, Martin Cray & Co Solicitors
There were also graduates who did not go on to pursue either further education or employment in the legal sector, and found work in other areas…
What they did: Business advisers, professional negotiators, brokering, administrators, interns, and project managers; in addition to jobs in finance, human resources, marketing, business development, broadcasting, etc…
Where they worked: The NHS, The Civil Service, Brighton and Hove Council, The National Audit Office, The National Crime Agency, IGM Media, The Financial Conduct Authority, American Express, MS Amlin, Alaraby Television, and The Cabinet Office, BAE Systems, AWA IPRO
So what advice did they have for current students? Well this could really be narrowed down to a couple of key points…
1. Do not underestimate the importance of work experience
Yes it’s something to add to your CV, whoopee, but if it is not done properly then it is also a waste of your time. Which is why, when it is done properly, it can not only be what makes you stand out from other candidates, but it can also give you career goals, and the confidence to enter the world of work.
“I feel any student looking to study law needs to understand the importance of gaining work experience prior to their graduation.” Stephanie Preece – Paralegal at Kennedy’s Legal Advice
It is also a great experience if you haven’t got a clue what you would like to do or what firm you would like to work for! This is because work experience is just as much about you seeing if you like them, as them seeing if they like you. It is a great way of experiencing different opportunities without having to commit to anything, and get a sense of where you would like to be.
Also, if you can show you have learned something from your work-experience, even if it has nothing to do with your chosen path, then is it still equally as valuable. In fact, just showing the initiative of going out there and looking for such opportunities is a big thumbs up to anyone looking at your CV.
“The one thing Amex really liked about me was the I had done a placement year whilst at university, as they only wanted graduates who had gone out and got some great work experience before coming to them.” Roxanne Scott – Working in Business Development for AMEX
“Off the back of [work experience], I was offered a place on the Paralegal to Trainee scheme with Fox Williams LLP in Moorgate and am currently spending 6 months in their Real Estate department in a mock-training seat.” Polly Jackson – Currently studying her LPC
Another important aspect of this is networking. You never know if that person sat on the desk opposite you will be the one who has to decide between you and another candidate if you apply for a job there… Whether the lady you ate lunch with might give you a heads up about a future job opportunity… And later down the line, your work experience supervisor may end up as a partner in the firm where you would like to do your training contract!
“Fortunately I happened to meet a partner of a law firm at a business opening event. I sent him my CV the following day and was later offered an interview. I got the job and I am now a legal assistant in residential conveyancing at Bridge McFarland solicitors.” Clara Perry – Will begin her LPC next year whilst staying on at Bridge McFarland
So how are you going to get it? First point of call is to check the website of the company you are interested in, see if they offer work experience, and start the process from there!
No luck? Don’t lose hope! You can take the more direct approach. For example, when I was looking for work experience in my home town I was stuck, as not one firm I liked stated on their website that they offered work experience. Not one. So, I decided to contact them all! I emailed them my CV along with a cover letter which included a little bit about myself, why I was looking for work experience, and why I was interested in their firm. It paid off and I had a very productive summer with some great experiences as a result!
If you want to be even more direct then you can mail them a copy of your CV and cover letter – These are far more likely to be read, and will likely stick in their memory a bit better than an easily ignored email. Several days later you can then follow up with a phone call, and move things on from there.
Basically, if you look hard enough, and put the effort in, it will pay off.
2. Figure out how YOU can stand out from the crowd
There are many ways you can make yourself stand out as a more rounded and appealing candidate.
For example, you can…
Apply to essay competitions… Write an article for your University Law Blog… Start your own blog… Attend firm open days… Attend networking evenings…Volunteer… Become part of a society… Plan an event… Get a part time job… Get work experience… Fund-raise… Charity work… Work achievements… Sports achievements… And so on and so forth…
“Students need to realise just how much you actually need to do to get noticed.” Polly Jackson – Currently studying her LPC
There are endless possibilities if you take the initiative to go out and find them.
However, if, for whatever reason, you have not been able to secure as much as you would like, another key skills is demonstrating your worth through the experiences you do have. For example, think about…
- How you developed your ‘soft skills’ working part time at Tesco
- How you gained teamwork skills during your legal research project. Were you able to lead when appropriate, but also listen when other people had good ideas?
- Did your University assessments particularly highlight your excellent presentation skills?
- How did you contribute to a society at Uni? And how will this help you in your future career? Did you delegate tasks, plan an event, budget?
- How has working in sales meant that you have developed client skills? Is it easy for you to build a rapport whilst also remaining professional?
These are called transferable skills, and you probably have a whole list of them and didn’t even realise it.
This is because all experiences are valuable so long as you take something from them, just remember to apply the skills you have gained appropriately to your chosen career, and only state relevant skills and experiences.
For example, so yes you had a gap year, built toilets in Uganda, looked after Elephants in India, and worked on a farm in Australia – But how did those experiences give you the skills to do what will be required of you? That’s for you to decide.
3. Take the time to choose a career you will enjoy
This one sounds obvious, but there are many people who end up falling into a career they don’t love, or even like! This can happen for many reasons, such as doing what you feel you should do, or doing something because it is the easy option.
The other side of this is not doing something because you think it will be too difficult. Better to try now then to realise down the line when it could be too late to turn back?
“I have learned it is important not to settle, and to make sure you love what you do, whatever that is!” Rebecca Fjeld – Advises UK and US clients on investment in Nordic Markets
“My advice for any graduates is to take a job in the field they would like to get into… It is important to emphasise that it’s about getting your foot in the door and taking baby steps to find out what you really like, enjoy, and thrive on – After all, university is very different to the working world.” Ravnisha Mato – Pursuing a career in compliance, financial crime & regulation
Taking Law at Uni is a great first step in setting you up for a career in the legal sector, however, it is also a well respected area of study that can benefit a great number of career paths. This is because it involves:
Analytical skills… Research skills… Critical thinking… Reasoning skills… Reading and writing skills… Good oral presentation… Debating skills… Attention to detail, and so on…..
Through this you can follow a number of careers, including:
The public sector… Politics… Media… Banking… Finance… Academia… Marketing… Human resources… Charity work… NGOs… Recruitment… And many more…
And if you still aren’t too sure, or have changed your mind, then why not pursue further education in something a little different? This can happen at any stage in your career, and many postgraduate studies do not require an undergraduate degree which is of the same subject – So you can still go down a different path if your interests change.
This also links to the previously mentioned importance of work experience, something you can use to test the waters of a new career/sector, and use to try some new things out!
Here is a great site full of the different options you can explore with a law degree – There are many more paths than just the stereotypical solicitor-barrister route,so have a look, and you may just get inspired.
A key theme that can be taken from these graduate’s experiences is the link between their success, and the amount of hard work they put in to achieve their goals. One student was even pregnant during her course, but that did not stop her, and she is now completing her LPC in London.
It is worth remembering that nothing worth having comes easy, so bare that in mind when you are facing the next stage in your career – whether it is applying for a training contract, the BPTC, or a part-time job at your local supermarket.
And finally, thank you to all the Brighton Law Alumni for taking the time to respond and for their contributions to this article. It was really inspiring to see all the different paths they had taken, and their willingness to help and share their experience with current students. I wish you all the best with your careers! #Brightonforever
Testimonies from ex-students about how their time at Brighton helped put them on the path to success:
“I strongly believe my experiences and achievements to date have been a direct result from the teachings, support and opportunities provided at Brighton University.” Nikita Rusakov-Harrison – Begins her training contract next year at a top 10 law firm
“I am grateful to have the foundation that Brighton uni helped me establish!” Roxanne Scott – Working in Business Development at American Express
“All in all, I’ve made a great life stemming from my law degree at Brighton Uni and would recommend their course to anyone!”Raavi Grewal – Head of Property Law at McMillan Williams Solicitors
“I loved every minute of my studies at Brighton and am so thankful to the amazing standard of legal teaching I received during my time there.” Chaitali Naik – Trainee Solicitor
“The University of Brighton broadened my prospects and the module choices allowed me to choose a point of focus for further studies.”Rebecca Wiles – Studying her LLM in Human Rights
If you would like to read the full list of information, quotes, and advice offered by past Brighton students, you can download them here.
By Carmen Bonal-Romero