To give prospective and current ULaw students an idea of what postgraduates get up to after their studies, we’ve been chatting to various alumni. This week, we caught up with Nicki Rundle, University of Law alumna and now a trainee solicitor at Ivy Legal Limited.
What made you want to study law? I’d always been fascinated by it. My dad is an ex-policeman, so I suppose that’s what sparked my interest initially. I didn’t study law at school, and I only decided to take it at undergraduate level as a mature student once I’d had my children.
What was your experience like at the University of Law? I found the staff to be very helpful and approachable, and the course was well organised – it was just as it should have been. When I was considering doing an LL.M dissertation to go with the LPC, I had quite lengthy chats with my family law tutor; she was very good and gave me some excellent advice. It’s really helpful to have ex-practising lawyers with hands-on experience teaching you. You can’t replicate that.
It’s a friendly place to be, and I’m still in touch with a lot of my class now. We would meet up at the weekends or in the evenings when our coursework was due so that we could work together. We helped each other out.
What were the top things you learnt at ULaw? The pace of learning is probably what prepares you best for life as a solicitor. It’s very different from the undergrad course and feels kind of like climbing a vertical ladder from day one! You have to be very organised, so that was a useful learning curve.
The course in general covers pretty much everything that you need to know in terms of the basics as a trainee – so things like time-keeping, structuring arguments and having debates, and how to word memos and advice letters to clients.
The LPC is not designed to teach you to actually be a trainee at a firm – it’s designed to give you the knowledge you’ll need to do the job. If you’re young and straight out of school, nothing can really prepare you for how you’ll feel in your first job. I’m in a different position – I was 27 when I started my studies and I’m 33 next week, plus I was a legal secretary in a former life, so I had experience of this world.
And what are the top things you’ve learnt since graduating? Listening skills: understand what’s required of you and ask questions. I didn’t want to appear stupid so I used to struggle with this, and I’d plough on with something that turned out of be wrong. It’s much better to ask questions and avoid wasting time and money.
"Attention to detail: proof read your work ten times – and then again for luck. It’s a pretty critical skill."
If you could share one piece of advice with current students applying for their first jobs, what would it be? Keep at it and don’t be afraid of taking the paralegal route. Remember that it doesn’t have to be a training contract – there are other ways to qualify. You can become a paralegal and, as long as you’re working at a high enough level with the right supervision, you can then get a period of recognised training. You can actually qualify from this, although it’s a long slog.
There are no guarantees, but some people work as a paralegal until they’re offered a training contract at their firm because it’s just so competitive to get one straight after qualifying. So yes, keep going – you will get there.
For more information applying for a course at the University of Law, head over to our website.