Alex Aldridge is the founder and publisher of Legal Cheek, the UK’s leading news source for junior lawyers and law students. He studied the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) at ULaw’s former York campus before breaking into legal journalism. He’s written for leading titles including The Times Law, Guardian Law and Legal Week and is now one of the best-known names in legal journalism.
I’ve always found the law fascinating. I studied it because I wanted to understand how the world worked and there’s no better subject for that than law. I chose ULaw because it had such a good reputation in the market.
The highlight of my time at ULaw was finally getting my head around land law. I had a Eureka moment just before my exams where it all came together.
Overall, I found the teaching at ULaw to be really good. The course was so well-organised, and it was delivered by pragmatic and committed tutors.
My first job was as a paralegal, before going to Chambers and Partners as a writer. I also wrote a column for The Times Law about my studies, which became quite well-known. Off the back of that, the paper commissioned me to do a weekly interview with a senior lawyer. I met people like Dominic Grieve QC MP and Baron Peter Goldsmith QC. Then I started working for Legal Week, ending up as their features editor, before going freelance again and writing for The Guardian Law and Above the Law.
I’d been writing for various legal publications for a while when I started my own podcast. I set up Legal Cheek initially just to host the podcasts. Then I kept seeing stories on Twitter that weren’t quite right for other publications I worked for, so I wrote them up for Legal Cheek. People started reading and commenting on the stories and then I started to get advertising deals for the site. I took on my first employee just over three years ago.
My career highlight has been getting Legal Cheek off of the ground. As its publisher, I liaise with advertisers, organise events, develop the business strategy and act as a sounding board for our editors. I still write articles too.
The best thing about being a legal journalist is covering such a constitutionally important area of society. There’s lots of demand from the general public for news about judges and the judiciary. You have the chance to explain issues such as Brexit in accessible terms, as Legal Cheek’s editors Tom Connelly and Katie King do so brilliantly. If you can do that, you’re in a fantastic position. There aren’t currently many young people writing about those subjects, so there’s a huge opportunity there for aspiring legal journalists.
Legal journalists have access to a very glamorous career. You can go from writing about the judiciary to writing about politics. Brexit has shown that – our Brexit articles are even used by generalist journalists, who come to us for informed legal commentary.
If you want to get into journalism, commit to it. That could mean taking some risks. You’ll only succeed if you really go for it.
You’ll do better than you expect to in your career just by being above average. A senior partner in a law firm once told me that. Find something you love doing and do it with energy.
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