As a recently qualified solicitor, Alice is enjoying taking on new cases and further developing her professional skills and knowledge. Find out how her experience as a paralegal helped her decide that law was the career for her
What degree did you study?
I graduated with a Law LLB Hons from Nottingham Trent University in 2016. After taking a year out from studying, I went on to take the postgraduate Legal Practice Course (LPC) LLM, also at Nottingham Trent University, graduating in 2018.
How did you get your job?
Following my law degree, I worked as a court usher for a year at my local magistrates' court. After completing the LPC, I began working as a paralegal at a local firm. During this time, I worked in criminal law and civil litigation and dispute resolution, gaining experience working in a law firm and learning what the role of a solicitor entailed in practice.
I then obtained a role as a paralegal in employment law at my current firm. I applied for a training contract with them, which I started in September 2020. I qualified as a solicitor in September 2022 following two years of training.
I believe that my previous experience as a paralegal enabled me to secure a training contract and thereafter a position as a qualified solicitor. This experience also enabled me to gain more from my training contract as I already had an awareness of how a law firm works, in addition to having experience handling my own files under supervision.
What's a typical working day like?
I work in the firm's commercial litigation and dispute resolution department and we deal with a variety of areas of law. My caseload includes acting on behalf of landlords in landlord and tenant matters, and advising in disputes between cohabitees, disputes between executors and contractual disputes/debt matters.
A typical day includes keeping on top of the general progression of cases, such as considering documents and advising clients regarding the next steps, preparing correspondence to parties on the other side of a matter and possibly drafting court papers. I also assist the partners in the department with their cases, and my involvement can vary from research to drafting a witness statement.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I enjoy making a positive difference to people's lives and assisting them to resolve an issue they are experiencing as quickly as possible, with the best outcome possible. I also enjoy problem solving and formulating arguments based on the law and the client’s particular circumstances.
What are the challenges?
It can be challenging at times working in private practice on behalf of a number of clients as it can be difficult to keep on top of competing demands and deadlines when you are very busy and have a long to-do list. It's important, therefore, to ensure that you are able to prioritise tasks by order of importance and that you manage clients' expectations from the outset.
In what way is your degree relevant?
Although working in practice as a solicitor is very different from the study of law, some of the basic principles that you learn during your degree provide a foundation of general legal knowledge.
The more general skills you gain during your degree, such as research skills, are also relevant to everyday working life. Solicitors often research relevant legal principles to confirm and refresh their legal knowledge, and also keep up to date with legal developments in their chosen area of law.
How has your role developed and what are your career ambitions?
As a newly qualified solicitor, my role is developing as I take on new cases, and learn and grow professionally every day. In the future I hope to specialise in an area of law that I feel passionate about - my goal is to enjoy what I do. My career ambition is to feel as though my work is making a difference and having a positive impact.
What is your top tip for choosing a Masters?
My top tip is to ensure that whatever area you choose to study a Masters in, you are interested in the subject area and have carefully considered the course prospectus and your future ambitions prior to starting a course.
What advice can you give to others wanting to be a solicitor?
- Getting work experience is key to finding out whether law is the career for you. Try and get experience in different areas of law to find out which interests you most. Work experience also provides you with real-life examples you can use in interviews to show why you want to work in law.
- Don't be put off by a bad experience in one particular area of law as that doesn't mean that you won't enjoy working in other areas. The day-to-day tasks, pace and work environment, for example, all vary depending on which department you work in.
- Work hard, believe in yourself and don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Don't compare yourself to others, and focus on your own goals and what you want out of a career. Don't lose sight of your goal, even if you don't get there immediately. Everyone's route into this profession is different and you do not have to follow a set path. You can do this.