There are several tried and tested routes into the legal profession. However, these aren't the only pathways. We're looking at how to spread your legal wings and talk to some of our students whose diverse work experience has helped them succeed.
GEORGINA FREEMAN: MINI-PUPIL AT PUMP COURT TAX CHAMBERS
Turning down offers from five universities and beginning her legal career as a Level 3 CILEx apprentice, thinking outside of the box has long-been on Georgina Freeman’s radar. Witnessing court aged eight, Freeman tells Verdict how she became “completely besotted with the court process”. As a result, when asked by her ballet teacher what she wanted to be when she grew up, the choice was obvious – “Mrs Caplan, I want to be a barrister.” Now studying the two-year accelerated LLB to fast-track her dream of ultimately practising as a barrister, Freeman also works part-time at Aspen Waite White, where she is involved in research and development tax credits. Having now developed a love for tax law, Freeman has set her sights on the commercial bar, and her recent time at Pump Court chambers has further cemented this. When asked what motivates her, she told Verdict, “I know if I stop, I will kick myself, and that is what drives me to carry on at the same pace”. Freeman also stresses the importance of visualising your career goals. For her, this means looking at her career plan on the doors of her wardrobe each day – “it’s quite literally a constant daily reminder of where I want to be, and the steps I need to take to get there.”
NATALIE CERNUSCHI: FUTURE TRAINEE SOLICITOR AT BEVAN BRITTAN
Having a clear passion for the public sector, evident across her work experience, Natalie Cernuschi was the ideal candidate for a training contract at Bevan Brittan. Cernuschi’s interest in public law took off at university, where she was able to get involved in providing pro bono legal advice for the wrongly convicted as part of the Innocence Project. This then segued into joining NWSSP Legal & Risk Services as a graduate. Witnessing the world of NHS litigation whilst simultaneously running two health boards, Cernuschi tells Verdict, “the experience I gained from this position certainly contributed to securing my training contract”. This experience put her in good stead when it came to interviewing at Bevan Brittan, whose clients she was already familiar working with. Before starting her training contract next year, Cernuschi is currently working as a trainee debt advisor for the Citizens Advice Bureau. Looking back at her experience in the public sector, she said, “I quickly realised that gaining as much experience as possible was vital.” For those looking to follow in her footsteps she offered this advice: “when it comes to a training contract, experience is key, so make sure to draw on every little bit you have.”
SARAH GIBBONS: PARALEGAL IN THE INTERNATIONAL DEPARTMENT AT LEIGH DAY
Speaking to Verdict from across the Mediterranean, Sarah Gibbons cannot get enough of international experience. A long and diverse history of working in this field led her to the perfect marriage of law and international development, within Leigh Day’s international department. Graduating from her LLB at Warwick in 2011, Gibbons rejected the pressure to qualify straight away, and instead set her sights on gaining an array of international experience. In the last decade she has gained experience ranging from a master’s at the Institute of Development Studies, to being a legal researcher in Zambia. She even managed to squeeze in a paralegal job at Sony Music in Sydney. For Gibbons then, whilst atypical, her route allowed her to take a step back and discover what she was really passionate about. In her advice to graduates unsure what path to go down, she said: “my main advice is don’t feel rushed into qualifying– I’m 30 and I’m only doing my LPC now, but my previous experience has enabled me to find my niche in a practice area I know I want to do long-term.”
GABRIELLE WHITTLE: PARALEGAL IN THE LITIGATION DEPARTMENT AT ADDLESHAW GODDARD
Receiving the offer just before speaking to Verdict, Gabrielle Whittle is an obvious case of hard work paying off. Currently studying the LPC with the MSc in Business Management, Whittle took the initiative to use her newfound understanding of business management to launch her own business in August. The Power Bar started out as two friends coordinating their meal prep together, taking off after they realised the demand at their local gym and took it upon themselves to monetise such. When asked about her experience and thinking outside of the box, Whittle told Verdict, “I like throwing wild cards in at interviews, and discussing things such as The Power Bar, alongside my teaching experience in Thailand.” Coordinating her studies with large-scale meal prepping during the day, Whittle also manages to work part-time at Stephensons Solicitors for four hours of an evening. To document all of the above, Whittle has also taken it upon herself to launch her own legal Instagram account. Currently studying her LPC online, she explained, “I now have my own virtual classroom and friends from this Instagram account, and I’d advise anyone struggling to connect to others during their studies amidst the pandemic to do the same”.