One of my biggest worries when I started my degree was whether I had left it too late to become a solicitor. I will be 36 when I finish, and 37 when I’ve done either of the vocational qualifications. Would I be too long in the tooth for someone to take on? Would I be doing an expensive degree only to find out the market had no use for me? In the end, I decided that this was something I’do always wanted to do, and even if it didn’t lead to anything, a good quality degree never hurts. Besides, I was doing this to prove to myself that I could. So I got on with it.
Recently, I’ve started looking into this again. I’ve read a few contradictory things, and was a little unsure. The other day, I tweeted this concern, not particularly expecting anything other than other mature students giving their thoughts and experiences.
Imagine my surprise then when Charon QC dropped me a line offering to have a chat about my prospects. In the offline world, the man behind Charon is a respected academic lawyer who co-founded the BPP law school. When talking about legal education and career prospects, he knows of which he speaks.
We spoke for a while about my CV, my studies and my aims. The key things to take away from the conversation were as follows:
1) It’s not too late. A lot of firms value a bit of life experience. My work experience is directly relevant, and that can only help. Entry to the Magic Circle firms might be out of my reach, because they like to get them young, and train them up in their ways. As this was never where my interests were, I’m ok with that. For everyone else, my circuitous route to law might be an advantage.
2) My grade will be all important. This isn’t specific to my situation. Law is apparently the most popular degree in the UK now, and while many of these students won’t be pursuing a legal career, there are only a finite number of jobs. Less than a 2:1, and I can forget it, especially as I can’t point to recent A-level results as proof of academic quality.
3) Put the work in. Obvious, I know, but there are no shortcuts. Be thorough, learn the cases, know the precedents. If you don’t bother, why should a firm employ you above someone who did? Trust me, they have plenty to choose from.
Overall, the talk was massively encouraging, and very helpful. I really appreciate that someone who knows their stuff on this subject took the time to go through things with me. I’m realistic, but I know if I get it right, I can still get into the industry. This simple fact gives me great encouragement.
As it happens, a couple of days later, something else popped up, that gave me cause to question one of the assumptions I’ve made here. I will talk about that one shortly.