Most school students have no idea what they want to be when they grow up and indeed, neither do most by the time they graduate from university or some, even by the time they're several years in to their career. Unless you're destined to be Britain's next top model or make it big on the silver screen, it's useful to have a rough idea when it comes time to pick your higher subjects or make university applications. So at age 16, how do you know what career is for you?
Many people might be inspired to become a lawyer by the dramatic court room scenes they see on TV shows such as Suits and Boston Legal and others by the apparent high six figure salaries but in reality, life as a lawyer isn’t quite like that of the great Denny Crane. I'm not ashamed to admit that legal TV shows have me hooked and that there's a little part of me that still hopes it's not all fiction. A better way of discovering what life in law is really like is to get some work experience and see it first hand, and at Morton Fraser school students can get the chance to do just that. Next week I will get to spend some time with a student on work experience, show them what life as a trainee really involves and answer any questions that they may have, questions that perhaps they're too scared to ask a career adviser or ones that teachers haven’t been able to answer.
Lucky for them, rather than spending a whole week with me in just one department, they will visit a different department every day for a taste of just a few of the possible practice areas open to them should they ultimately decide to pursue a life in law. If I'm not able to convince them that commercial property is the way to go, I'm sure someone in litigation or private client will be able to win them over.
Once the decision is made that you will one day become a lawyer, you then have to survive five whole years of university before you finally get there. Being a law student and then graduate at the height of the recession, I was constantly reminded by the media and even those around me that the job market was awful and how difficult it would be to secure a traineeship. At one point, I was even told not to bother trying.
I'm glad I didn’t listen, but as a student it can be difficult to ignore such "optimism" and stay focused. In my final year of university and without a traineeship lined up, a tutor put me in touch with a couple of lawyers (some experienced and some not so much) that could mentor me and guide me through interview processes. More importantly however, being an insider in the legal profession, they were able to convince me that the outlook for young lawyers wasn’t as bleak as I'd been led to believe and that there were definitely opportunities out there.
They were right.
It's for this reason that, when I was asked by the university to mentor current students, I just couldn’t say no. As much as I'd like to believe it's because I now know everything there is to know about a legal career, it's more likely the case that it can be useful to get the perspective of someone who knows exactly what you're going through having done so (and survived) recently. If it wasn’t for those that spared me just five minutes of their time every now and then to chat on the phone or to look over my CV, I'm not sure that I'd now be able to say I'm a trainee at Morton Fraser.