Get them in, just get it done

December 3, 2009

Hindsight is such a wonderful thing. Time really does seem to move very quickly, summer barely seems to have passed, but there is no escaping this sharp, cool winter air.

Many firms opened their application for their Training contract applicants yesterday and the majority will remain open until the 31st July 2010. Lots of time, eight months in fact. Though, if you really think about it there isn’t a great deal of time if you consider you will be sleeping for about two and half months, watching TV for a couple of weeks, and drinking for several days it doesn’t really leave you with a lot of time especially if you consider how long it takes to do a decent application and all the other things you have to do with your time!

Most of your applications will fail; and the majority won’t even send anything back, you simply won’t hear a thing. One or two applications are completely inadequate unless you have some kind of insane CV.

So even though it is only December and you have eight months to go and essays and presents to buy, and end of term socials to arrange and attend you need to get cracking. You might say you will do it in the holidays. Most people will say that and I suspect most will in fact begin in the holidays, they might even do one or two but as I said that isn’t enough.

Before long it will time to be back at uni; the work will load up again and you will keep meaning to find time. Then Easter, then exams and then the summer. Then you will realise you are jobless with no other prospects but an LPC, lots of debt and an uncertain future.

That’s the problem with facts and reality – they can’t be blagged. If you want to be a lawyer add applications to your time table or you’ll regret it. Why not try a test. If you don’t believe me, write a to do list for a week (or even two days) of things you think you can achieve. I guarantee you only manage two thirds. If I’m right for you I bet you won’t do enough applications and will end up without a training contract by the end of this academic year.

So I would say get them in, just get it done.

Equal Opportunities

November 24, 2009

A fairly modern concept by all accounts. In recent years it has been particularly prevalent in public bodies and political speech. I would like to consider whether this is a useful idiom, or linguistic filler people say to seem concerned, fair and just and whether there are even such things as equal opportunities.

The Bar Council’s It’s your call got me thinking and their commitment to access to the profession. There are now fantastic opportunities for everyone these days. For example, according Bar Council, “68.4% of those in pupillage studied universities other than Oxford and Cambridge”. That’s encouraging I thought.

Wait. That means that over one third of all barristers; one third, went to Oxford or Cambridge! What are we to make of this statistic?

Perhaps students at Oxford and Cambridge really are that much better. Or perhaps it’s the reputation of the universities that helps their graduates along. Or it could be that people who go to Oxford and Cambridge tend to have more barristers in the family, friends whose parents are barristers and so getting a foot in the door is easier.

This might seem a bit unfair, not all Oxbridge graduates fit any ill-founded and archaic stereotypes.

Maybe everyone that wants to be a barrister should take an exam and then only the best will be selected on merit. Maybe, but that’s crazy talk and that isn’t how things are. As George Orwell wrote, “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

It is true now and will always be the case.

That doesn’t mean we should not make it easier to get into the legal profession for everyone, or that I am critical of the many successes the Bar Council have had. What does irritate me and what undermines the good that has been done is to gloss over the reality.

Perhaps the sentence would be better worded as follows, “Although, currently over one third of those in pupillage studied at Oxford and Cambridge we are taking a number of steps to increase participation of students that graduated from other universities that are just as smart and well qualified as their counter-parts at Oxbridge, but are in many (not all) probably slightly less well connected in the legal profession”.

Either way if you do want to be a barrister take a read of It’s your call there is a lot of good stuff in there with insights from people that have already walked the path.

http://www.barcouncil.org.uk/assets/documents/Its%20Your%20Call%20Oct%2009.pdf

Don’t forget all our other blogs on the site:

Pauls Blog

Resident Expert Blog

In-house Lawyer Blog

Trainee Solicitor

Legal Executive

Paralegal

LLM

BVC

LPC

LLB

International student

I think we covered all the bases!

All About Law…loading…please wait…

October 29, 2009

After one long year, hundreds of meetings, and thousands of pages views the new website is ready going.

The new site went live two weeks ago now and we decided to stick with the green. For our generation and I suppose it was the same for any other generation really, keeping up with technology and fashion is a way of life. Everybody wants the latest phone or the latest cut of cloth that’s adourning the high street.

I think the same goes for the information we receive and the way we receive it. Online is everything and mobile online will be the new something… so we have to keep changing. I like this quest to find new ways of doing things, faster, easier and with greater specificity.

We haven’t reinvented the wheel it’s more that we have just popped an alloy on it and put on some nice tight treads. The website has good information set out in an easily navigable way but once this wheel is moving we’re planning on scrapping it for the hoverboard…

And the best news of all is that we are now the most popular law careers website in the UK! Alexa.com the industry standard for web traffic put us streets ahead. So thanks guys.

http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/allaboutlaw.co.uk

Jack

 

 

The new site is finally here!

October 12, 2009

Drum roll please! Ladies and gents, our new site is finally up and running and waiting for you to pop over!

It also means though that Jack and I will be emigrating our various rants and odd bits of wisdom to our new homes as follows:

My Blog (Paul):

http://www.allaboutlaw.co.uk/index.php/blogs/pauls-blog/

Jack’s Blog:

http://www.allaboutlaw.co.uk/index.php/blogs/jacks-blog/

See you over there later on!

Live Court Action at the Supreme Court

October 7, 2009

The new Supreme Court is here as I am sure everyone is aware. For the first time in UK some cases will be televised…

Good. I’m glad we live in the modern world.

Anybody can attend court and watch cases; it is of course an essential part of the democratic society we live in and in fact any democratic society. So I say all cases should be televised or rather streamed on the internet… so everyone where ever they are can tune in, download or listen in on the democratic process.

What a tool that would be watching the democratic process in action, listening to the Judges, hearing the Barristers argue amongst themselves all from the comfortable of your living room or the library.

Focusing on the narrow point of legal careers education, I think it would give such a good understanding to any aspiring lawyer. I know I would have it on all the time. I spent some time working at a Court in Bosnia and there the cases were streamed internally, it was such a good way to learn to much, listening to the Prosecution and the defence and watching how the Judges dealt with particular issues as well as letting me see the procedures of the court unfold.

So I am all in favour and I think it should be expanded to every case in every court in the land.

Jack

The LL.B – theory is always different to practice. But that’s the point isn’t it?

September 18, 2009

In my fourth year I spent a lot of time thinking about what I wanted to do. I became enthralled in my dissertation topic and briefly considered an academic route. It got me thinking about the purpose of the law degree and what it prepares the undergraduate for once they have graduated.

Before I went to university I had the intention of becoming a lawyer. I think my interest really started with Ally McBeal and a Kudos test aged fourteen that told me, according to the thirty questions it asked, that I was pre-disposed to become a lawyer (not exactly the best sources to use for deciding how to spend the largest part of your life after sleep!). I didn’t even know there were different types of lawyers something I only discovered in the sixth form. I knew lawyers were respected and most importantly they were well paid.

So safe in the ignorance that I would be well paid and respected I headed off to university to study law and human rights. I can’t help but think that the current system is a little flawed as most law students, at least at the beginning of their degree, want to be lawyers, but a law degree does not train you to be a lawyer, rather, it teaches law as an academic pursuit. Perhaps some would disagree but learning to become a lawyer really starts at the LPC/BVC and the subsequent vocational training, so I am told. Having spoken to a large number of young lawyers and well established lawyers they have all told me that they learnt to ply their trade in the working environment and not in the classroom.

It would seem to me that a new approach could be adopted. The academic law degree could remain whilst a more practical based course could be adopted to combine the GDL with the LPC. This lawyers degree could be conducted over the same period as the LL.B to allow for students to mature and develop in the same way as other undergraduates. I think the latter would suit those that wish to solely become lawyers whilst the LL.B could remain for people that want to study law as a purely academic subject. I would propose that the graduates of the lawyers degree could go straight into a training contract, avoiding further graduate education and more debt.

For employers the advantage would be that such a graduate that has been able to hone the practical skills of the LPC over a longer period in greater depth progress more speedily into the working world, thus being more productive, given greater responsibility and potential bring in greater revene at an earlier stage. In terms of the educational providers, there role would remain the same. Both universities and graduates training providers could diversify using their expertise to produce a different class of young lawyers.

However, these are just musing whilst I’m sitting here on the train. I suppose theory is always different to practice. But that’s the point isn’t it?

“If you do what you have always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got!”

September 12, 2009

I spent the first half hour of this morning looking through some law forums posting a few, hopefully useful comments. I came across one lady… this is her situation:

Thirty, 2.2, LPC and five years paralegalling experience  – 100 applications for training contracts and just one interview.

She believed the main issues to be her age and the fact that she had a child, which she considers to be a mitigating circumstance. I do not have any children but I am aware they do take up a lot of time and effort and must be very draining but then a lot of people have children and I am sure even some lawyers have reproduced. She continues,

“I wish people in my situation i.e. studied and worked at the same time, older, but very hard working were given more of a chance – they should make firms give TC to all law graduates mandatory – like medical doctors!! at least £20k has gone on my law studies!!! i know it was my choice and i was aware of the risk but hey i deserve it

I imagine there are a number of other people who would disagree, most of all law firms. Law firms, I reminded her, are businesses with the aim of making money. Therefore, she will not secure a training contract just by making them feel that she deserves it. Lots of people deserve lots of things but that’s not real life. If she wants a job she needs to show she is good enough and furthermore that she is better than the other candidates. That is the step I think she has to take, she needs to stop using her circumstances as a handicap and yes she will probably struggle more than other people and will have to work harder but then life isn’t fair and we don’t all have an equal grounding.

That said, she does need some help and I think that there must be a flaw in her applications and she needs some guidence. I am happy to point in the direction of good guidence – everyone should have the opportunity to help and advice – but it’s what you do with it that counts.

So my point is this, as we make our own way in the world – take all help and advice you can but in the end its what you with that that will determine how well you do and not the situation you are in. Most situations can be changed, not all but most.

As Paul always says, “If you do what you have always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got!”

Jack

Law and a language

September 7, 2009

When I was at high school I never really had much of an interest in languages and really, I couldn’t see the point. Why bother learning French or German? I mean all that time wasted for a week in France or a weekend trip to Germany. How short sighted.

In my fourth year at univeristy I took Spanish as an outside extra, it was great. I enjoyed every minute and would love to have started in my first year. I like the challenge of trying to get an idea from inside my head and trying to convey that to another person without using English. When you acheive it, it feels good and you would be suprised how often you can use without being in Spain or S. America.

It can open a bunch of doors too – friendships, travel, relationships, work and great experiences. In fact why not combine it with an Erasmus year/term at a European university? I know I wish I had.

Law and a language might not be for everyone, but it’s worth a thought.

Jack

Is it ever professionally acceptable to tell someone to ‘p#@s off’?!

September 1, 2009

Long story short, a long while ago I called up a law firm to enquire about whether they might be able to write a profile of themselves for our site. Very straightforward and no money involved. All that happens is we send the template, an example profile and we give them a good few weeks to complete it.

Bearing all that in mind, is it acceptable for me to be told to ‘p@#s off’ and be hung up on within 10 seconds?! Fair enough, if it’s another caller hassling for money you’re going to be a little on edge, perhaps stern and possibly quite short, however I really can’t see an instance where someone is justified (as long as the other person is completely polite – and I was, honest!) to tell you to ‘p@#s off!’.

Answers on a post card on how to deal with this firm, however over at AAL we’ve decided to never include them in anything that we do, despite focusing a lot on city firms! Feel free to guess!

Paul

Calm before the storm…

August 27, 2009

Having spent the last two months going through the finer details of the site, I’m glad to say that we are finally starting to see something tangible. As with everything requiring a lot of forward planning and general ‘graft’, you tend to spend forever struggling and struggling until one day it all finally clicks.

We’re not quite there yet, however let’s just say it’s looking pretty tasty! We’ve decided to stay bold and keep the green (ekk!) however even if people struggle with the colour at least the info around it will be top notch!


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