Network like a bat out of hell. This is often how you will come across the more interesting job roles in between your studies and starting your Pupillage.
Solicitors have to attain a certain number of CPD points per year, and they have to attend seminars that are mostly held by chambers. There will be a seminar and a Q and A session followed by drinks and canapés. This is often an excuse for barristers and their solicitors to let their hair down and have a good old time together.
If you find yourself working at a solicitor’s office as a paralegal, keep an eye out for the associate’s invitations. Again, you can’t be a shy, retiring flower about these things. When you see an invite, or hear of a chambers event coming up where your employers are heading, ask to attend. Check with your immediate boss, but then email the chambers’ speakers.
I was often thanked for my interest by QCs for asking if I could attend and the fee that is often charged was waived for me. Not only do you get a great lecture on changes in the law and a practitioners point of view, you are in a room full of barristers! This may well be somewhere you want to apply. Ask relevant questions, be yourself and try to enquire about what they want from a pupil.
There may well be a current pupil there for you to find out some inside info that will make your future application stand out. This is an opportunity to make a personal impression that you can pair with your pristine application. You will certainly help yourself get an interview at first round. And maintain contact. Send a thank you letter the following day. If you found that you got on particularly well with someone simply ask them “would I be able to join you at court one day?” This is will keep you known. Of course, there is a fine line between politely asking and being too full on, but a sensible person can usually work that out rather easily.
Chambers’ websites do not give much away, and everyone reads them to death before drafting their applications. If you know barristers from a set you are applying to, ask them for a drink or coffee to find out how chambers balances their practice areas; what work a pupil undertakes in second six; does chambers have any niche aspects to their practice? Use contacts to make as tailored an application as possible, and this will also keep you known.
Keeping up appearances will serve you well when trying to find out what kind of employment will benefit you best after studies, and if you have a little black book of email address that you have compiled through networking, then all the better for you! Too many are too reserved. 5,10,30 years ago, these people were in your shoes and needed a bit of help. Don’t feel you are a nuisance. You won’t lose anything from trying!
Thanks to George Harley for this motivating piece, George completed both his GDL and BPTC at The City Law School.