If you've just finished your GCSEs and you’re one of the lucky few who already knows what career path you want to follow then you have a great opportunity to get ahead of the game. And if you've got your sights set on a career in law then you’ve got plenty of time to give yourself a head start during your A Levels. We asked ULaw Employability Director John Watkins what you can do to make a start towards your ambitions early.
Look further ahead
With at least two years of A Level study ahead of you, you've got plenty of time to make sure you're making the right choice about which universities you'd like to apply to, or if you'd prefer an apprenticeship (there are some apprenticeship options available now that lead into law, but the most common route is still through university). Visit universities for open days and events, such as The University of Law's 'Get into Law' insight day. Not only can you find out about the degrees on offer, but you'll also get to see what it’s like to study there.
Get plenty of work experience
Find opportunities to work at different types of part-time or temporary jobs over the Christmas, Easter and summer holidays. Try to find a variety of places so that with each one you're expanding your experience and skillset. Think about what kind of skills you'll need for your dream job, then find work that will help you develop those particular attributes.
If you can, find a role that involves interaction with younger and/or less experienced individuals too. Being able to communicate information and advice to people is a great skill that will be increasingly important throughout your career.
Go to court
Your local law courts can be a great source of information. You can sit in on actual cases being tried and watch the pros at work. If you can, plan to visit once a month, switching up which courts you go to so that you see a range of case types. Keep notes of what you see, hear, think and experience – it can make for some great content for your UCAS application and CV.
Keep up to date
Commercial awareness is a vital attribute for professionals. It basically involves understanding what a business does, how it does it and why it does it. Fortunately, thanks to social media, you've got plenty of information about businesses at your fingertips, so make the most of it. Start following a few well-known businesses and firms online (and keep an eye out for stories in the press). Consider not just the reported activity, but how it relates to the way the business runs as a whole.
There are plenty of other web resources that you can use to get a better understanding of the law too, like ULaw's Future Lawyers' Network, which has loads of information to give you an insight into various areas of law.
Practise public speaking
Both barristers and solicitors are called upon to present cases, proposals or recommendations in courtrooms and boardrooms alike, so try to find opportunities to have a go at delivering a speech. Whether it’s for your school work, in a competition or a family event, the more time you spend doing it, the more comfortable you’ll be when speaking in front of a roomful of people.
If you’re particularly nervous about public speaking then try to practise in private. A great starter is to come up with a personal introduction to use when you’re asked about yourself. Keep it factually accurate but try to make it interesting and distinctive so that you’ll stand out from the crowd. Practise it in front of the mirror and treat it like you’re pitching yourself to somebody you admire.
Find out more about how studying with ULaw can help you achieve your aspirations by coming to meet us at an Open Day.