My First Year of Law School
Well that's it, an official wrap on my first year of law school. My exams are submitted, we're awaiting the results and officially one year closer to that end goal of being a solicitor at an international law firm.
So let's back track a second, take it right back to summer 2019 and review the first year of my legal journey.
Moving back from Australia in August 2019 was one of the scariest, upsetting and difficult decisions of my life. I could not deny any longer how much I wanted to become a lawyer, but I also couldn't deny how much I loved Australia and what it had done for my mental health and personal growth. The thought of leaving felt too painful after the hoops I jumped through and the money I spent to be there and stay there.
I had finished and passed my paralegal qualification and before gaining any kind of legal experience, I knew I wanted more than that qualification. After a lot of tears about leaving the home I had always dreamed of and believing I had 'failed' in making that dream my long term reality, I found myself back in the UK again. I was so convinced that people would agree with me that I had failed and be embarrassed for me, it was almost overwhelming enough to influence my decision and not return.
But often the most difficult decisions we have to make are the most rewarding long term. I came home and made myself a promise to pursue this legal career with every ounce of fire in me to make sure that I made it worth it.
In September 2019 I moved to Brighton and so it began. I knew I wanted to document this journey on social media and made room on my instagram page and YouTube for both a fitness and law focus. I would like to say that I know what I'm doing with social media, managing it was part of my role whilst I was a gym manager and I created spreadsheets to track engagement across our other gym locations, I had experience with creating my own platforms to document my fitness journey and generally have a good sense of how to research through social media. So I knew the best way for me to learn more was to start searching on Instagram for other law students, law firms and whatever else was out there!
To my surprise, there is a wealth of support, groups, networks and firms that just want to help and share experiences. I began to build a network of other students at various points of their own legal journeys and get talking to law career providers and suss out events and opportunities I could start getting on board with.
My first law fair experience was then in October 2019 at Sussex University, as a returning student to university with a clear career goal in mind, I already had a feel for the type of firm I wanted to work for in my future career. A firm that offers international secondments and has the opportunity to relocate overseas is a big tick for me and so I scouted around the law fair chatting with firms about those opportunities and any schemes they may have available for first years and general conversation about how they themselves got started and the different paths they took to be where they are now.
From then on my first year has completely flown by in a blur, surviving around two months collectively of strikes and a global pandemic that has left me with four months of academic teaching to learn tort law, public law, legal structures and ethics and criminology and complete coursework and exams using a new legal style of writing and referencing. The events of this year have indeed made life stressful but it only makes it more rewarding in the end.
Despite the craziness that has been this year, I'm thrilled with the progress that has been made towards broadening my network and getting my foot into this highly competitive industry from day one. Since September 2019 I have been featured over on the University of Law's Instagram on multiple occasions to share my study tips, collaborated with Brighton University, had three article features (x1 Brighton University and x2 Legal Cheek), collaborated with London Young Lawyers, Bright Network and Law Careers Net, attended a legal conference in Bristol and had the opportunity to vlog for Law Careers Net for the day. I've pitched a business idea to three law firm partners (real dragons den style!) and had to work with other individuals to come up with solutions to legal issues. I've been elected as President for my University's Law Society, expanded my network and also met some really wonderful people through our love of the law, both in person and virtually. Most recently I've been named the 'new kid on the block' as an up and coming legal vlogger alongside well known names in the industry such as Eve Cornwell and Chrissie Wolfe- a real pinch me moment!
I have also decided to broaden my own platforms, by founding Lifting The Law, my legal blog to document a real law students journey from the very beginning and starting up my own initiative called 'The Legal G&T,' an IGTV series to enhance commercial awareness and bring the legal community together to talk about issues and news that impacts future lawyers.
Whilst I am very grateful for the exposure and experiences I have had over this year, it hasn't been without its setbacks and I don't want it to appear as if I have bagged all of these opportunities first hand, because as much as we would all love that, it does not always pan out that way! Out of the 14 firm insight days/ schemes I applied to during my first year, I got accepted to attend 1.
Whilst this may seem small, what I have come to terms with in this industry is that you will often face more rejection than acceptance if you are really putting yourself out there to as many opportunities as you can and it's actually an insightful lesson into how to improve for next time.
Hence why it is imperative to really utilise that one 'yes' you get and turn it into further opportunities. From my one 'yes' to attend a legal conference, I then got the opportunity to film for Law Careers Net for the day, I got to network with many other aspiring solicitors, I was able to talk about international secondments with the firms in attendance and start building an image of who I may want to consider applying to again, I had a firm contact me to congratulate me on my filming/ the information I shared about the event, I was able to add the experience to my CV and I will be able to talk about the skills I used such as networking, public speaking, team work, presenting and research during this event at a future interview.
My aim with sharing this is to encourage anyone reading to embrace failure, they are valuable lessons that will teach you to become better and learn more by the time the next opportunity comes around. I also wish to stress that there is no 'too early' or 'too late' to start your career. If you are passionate about what it is to pursue, there is no time line or direct path to take. You are right on time for you.
Now that brings us up to speed, one academic year later. This is only the very beginning and I'm really grateful to those who have watched/ read/ listened to my legal journey so far. I can't wait to share and document more on this journey from student to solicitor.