Tips for obtaining a Paralegal role/starting a career in law?

Hi guys,

I am an LPC graduate with a 2:1 Law degree from a Russell Group university, who has interned at a Magic Circle firm, an American firm and an international firm, but am finding it so hard to get Paralegal roles. 

I have applied directly to a number of law firms and have signed up with countless recruiters within London to no avail. Some applications have yielded job interviews, but my feedback is invariably "we liked you, but another applicant has more experience", which puts me in the old catch-22. All in all, my legal internships have provided me with about 6 weeks total experience, so I get their point.

I am strongly interested in Corporate and Finance Paralegal positions, and my internships have been within those practice areas. I know these two areas are considered the most competitive, so have been pursuing opportunities within other commercial areas, like DR and Real Estate, which I still really enjoy, but because my studies and internships have been mainly Corporate focused, I have a hard time convincing potential employers offering roles in other practice areas that I am sincerely interested in their role and won't disappear after a few months! Equally, I have found some excellent up and coming gems in London that specialise in the areas I am most passionate about, but they do not wish to employ me, as they feel, based on my internships, I am only interested in working for a major corporation! I have proclaimed my experiences have been with large outfits only because they are the ones that offer internships and I would love to work for a smaller firm. 

Also, I have been applying for Training Contracts, but those have also provided so competitive and none I have applied for will start at least until late 2020/2021, so while those are being processed, I am focusing on other interim opportunities.

All in all, I am struggling to get a start in the industry and feel kind of pigeonholed, despite never having worked as a Paralegal before! 

I just wondered if any of you could recommend a recruitment agency you have found helpful, offer any interview tips for overcoming my lack of paid experience or suggest any productive next steps for furthering my career within commercial law?

Thank you so much for reading and thanks in advance for any advice provided. 

 

Some questions:

 

1.What grades did you get in your A Levels and GCSEs

2. How many TC apps have you done - have you been doing them since pre LPC?

3. Are you doing vac scheme apps too 

 

futher questions

 

(Roughly) how many paralegal roles have you

a) applied for

b) interviewed at

 

Hi,

 

A Levels: A*AA

GCSES: 6 x A*, 6 x A

TC apps: I have applied for years, and have made the final stages at a few firms, but this year is the first year I felt like I was fully prepared for the process. I now have 35 apps in the running. 

Vac Schemes: One of my internships was actually a 2-week Vac Scheme at an international firm. I didn't get the TC because I stumbled a little during my group presentation after some technical issues. My fault entirely, but my other feedback was excellent. I applied for a few Vac Schemes this year, but none were successful, so I am just left with the TC apps. 

 

Ok difficult question but

 

Why would YOU not hire You

 

be honest

what is the feedback you have had from final stage TC  interviews

I discovered recently that I got worse GCSE results than Stormzy. Which is probably why I've never headlined Glastonbury. 

also doon't take any of this personally law is heavily over subscribed and there are more good candidates than there are roles - decision can end up becoming arbitrary

 

35 is a decent number - I cant remember the deadlines but I wouldnt hesitate to throw your hat in for more, despite what anyone else says (nonsense about quality over quantity - its both etc)

a) Honestly, countless. Some have just been a recruiter sending my CV off. All in all, direct apps I would say about 15-20. This sounds small, but so many roles stipulate 6 months of experience, so I haven't been eligible to apply. Also, a lot of the roles seem to be the same ones at the same firms that just never respond. 

b) I have had about 5 interviews from my direct apps and various other ones from recruiters. They all say they like me, but I lack experience. Except for one, which I almost got but my competition got 2 marks higher than me on the 100 mark test! I find when I go to the top firms, their expectations are too high, and when I go to the ones that are less renowned, they act like I am overqualified for the role and will leave soon. I can't seem to strike the balance. 

"Except for one, which I almost got but my competition got 2 marks higher than me on the 100 mark test! I find when I go to the top firms, their expectations are too high, and when I go to the ones that are less renowned, they act like I am overqualified for the role and will leave soon." 

What do you mean by saying their expectations are too high? in terms of prior experience? is there something misleading in your CV, do the recruiters really understand your experience, make sure it is not being overhyped

 

I also should say  this feedback may not be 100% accurate. People dont like difficult conversations and dont like upsetting people. Very few places would chose a hire based on 2 marks on a test so the likelihood is there is another reason. If you are not getting other reasons it may be worth digging. The feedback may be uncomfortable but if it is that is a sign you might be on to something and everything can be worked on. 

 

Can you think of times when your personality type has been misinterpreted? Not talking about interviews here but I mean in social situations? I know people who are often considered arrogant until people get to know them, or proud etc do you ever have this issue? 

 

 

 

but in any case it is a numbers game so keep going - you may just be on a bad luck streak but with the grades and the  experience you have got you wil find something. Definitely dont limit yourself on what you  look at, if you get a TC the likelihood is that whatever paralegal work you have done the only experience you will take forward is that of working in a law firm working with fee -earners etc, Knowledge about whichever bits of paper they decided to let you fill in or photocopy are not going to accelerate your career as a Corp lawyer

I would not hire me due to lack of experience. I was told once ages ago that I was not animated enough during an interview, but in the past couple of months I have rectified that, so I sound so enthusiastic (bot not obnoxious). 

The final TC interviews have said lack of experience (which they would have known before interviewing me, as they had my CV). Besides that, one said my commercial knowledge was good, but they wanted a deeper understanding of commercial issues. This was an American firm that kinda wanted trainees that were associates, and everywhere else has said my understanding is excellent, so I see it as an anomaly. But just in case, I have really been on my A game regarding commercial issues and can tell I have pleasantly surprised some interviewers with my knowledge. 

Thanks for your help btw and I do not take it personally. I know so many friends in similar positions to me, but I see some people progress, so I just want to know if there is anything I am missing, that I can rectify to break the cycle. I want to apply for a few more, but I have applied to all the commercial ones already that I haven't applied for a Winter Vac Scheme with this round. Of course, there are some more, but they are the ones that have rejected me three times or request experience in certain areas like insurance. 

My usual reaction to young graduate disappointment from HR processes is to say don't overanalyse. Just get the numbers up. There is an inherent lottery element to it and if your paperwork doesn;t have some obvious reason to chuck you off, then it's a numbers game. You'll get disappointment where it's not due and you mustn't let it get you down. Do look for anything in the feedback and do take advice from others on the CV, cover letters and application forms, but if there's nothing obvious then just keep the faith and push on. It'll come.

There's something off about your description of non-MC/US firms.  Your academics are in the upper quarter of the CVs I see here, but not stand-out by any means.  We wouldn't look at those and think "ooh, he's too good for us, he's going to go in 3 months".

Are you sure you aren't giving the impression that you think you're too good for them?  Self confidence is good, I will happily hire self confident people.

I will, on the other hand, get very twitchy about people whose self confidence appears to be running ahead of their ability or experience.

Entirely possible I am misreading the situation, I'm just sharing a reaction to how you've written what you've written.

In short, with those academics, you are nowhere near too good or too bad to land a decent role.  The problem is likely to be elsewhere.

That is so true. I have tried to dig deeper, and I always make it clear to them that I don't get offended easily and I appreciate any constructive criticism. I might have to start digging a bit harder.

The arrogance thing is something I do consider, because that confidence-arrogance balance can be hard to strike. Most of them actually say the opposite, that I am a nice guy and need to be more "assertive", so I have recently been trying to do that. The thing I don't get though, is what I am meant to be asserting in an interview. I try to be enthusiastic and energetic, never passive, but it is not like I can take charge of the situation. 

Also, though, what mutters said.

Nigh on impossible to differentiate yourself on paper, absent a quintuple first from Yaloxharvbridge.  Getting in the door is something of a lottery and a persistence test.

So true, the law firms say quality, but everyone else says quantity, which I think is key. There are so many excellent firms, so I guess it is about improving one's chances. 

I completely agree with you. I always get complimented on my grades too, which I don't consider exceptional. I get my post here might sound a little uppity, but it is just because I didn't want to name firms or type too much that people get lost in the details. 

The ones that have said they think I am overqualified (and those are surprisingly the words they have used!) have been the ones that have advertised for a Paralegal, but then make it clear they are looking more for a receptionist, or someone to stock the fridge and occasionally do a bit of admin. It seems there are so many places that offer Paralegal roles that turn out to not quite be those roles. I am not offended by that, as any experience is good experience, and nobody is too good for a role, but interestingly, some places do make these assumptions. 

If you want a paralegal job write a short covering letter asking for a paralegal job and send it with a copy of your CV to the head of litigation at the top 50 firms. One of them will have a disclosure exercise they are underesourced for and will take any old cannon fodder that happens to have written in that day. 

Yes, it is scary to see how many do seem to recruit the majority of their trainees and paralegals from Oxbridge. I get that they're great institutions, but there are so many great universities and so many excellent candidates that have studied elsewhere. 

Quality is right too - don't send out 100 crapplications.  Do target specific firms, and tailor the CV/application as much as you can.

What about body language?  Shoulders back, neck in the back of the collar, eye contact, all that sort of thing?

I have wondered about this and have sent speculative apps to the companies that specify that they are happy to receive them, but do companies actually ever hire people this way?

I sometimes get scared about taking them by surprise and putting them off ever hiring me, thinking "who is this guy randomly emailing us?"

 

For sure. I was terrible with that in the past, but now I personalise them well. I find I can now get past the application/cv stage frequently, whereas in the past that felt like a mission. I now stumble further down the process. I can do the video interviews, often pass the first stage interviews, but then by the time I get to the second interview, there is an issue with my lack of experience. 

Yes, they do.  Don't worry about that, you will generally be pandering to someone's ego by explaining why you want to work for their wonderful organisation/team/self.

It's creepy if you turn up outside my bedroom window*, not so much if you email me in the office.

 

 

(*partially because this is two stories up)

When did you finish the LPC, and what have you been doing since?

Yes they do but I would send a hard copy letter. Emails are very easy to bin without reading and paper shows  more effort. 

Haha, guess I'll have to stop creeping outside their houses! 

That's interesting. I always assumed people would rather not be disturbed especially when they haven't advertised, as we always hear how busy lawyers are. 

If they're that busy, they won't remember your name.

Nothing to fear but fear itself.  Well.  Fear and goblins.  Spiteful sharp-toothed little feckers.

I finished my LPC last year July. Since then, I have been working in Education Recruitment, getting students for private colleges. I have been actively trying to get Paralegal work for a year, but it took me a while to find my feet and really understand what they are looking for. I'd say my applications have only truly been worthwhile the past four months. The earlier ones I treated a bit too much like a TC, detailing my skills and talking about a career in law. Now, I see companies wanting Paralegals focus more one one's amid abilities, focus and teamwork. 

On a separate note, some people have said to me that firms may be put off because I don't have social media. I didn't give that idea much credence, but I am wondering if we live in times where companies want staff to have a large online presence, even at a junior level. 

Haha, I'll become one of those fearful goblins if I don't get anywhere in the next few months!

I have considered Accutrainee as a TC opportunity to kind of skip the wait, but having experienced some pigeonholing, am concerned law firms would not want to hire an associate who trained at a variety of different places in an unconventional manner. 

Agree with Lears fools first point. 

 

I think a few things - most of the feedback sounds like it is dodging the point and there is perhaps an issue with personality, fit, interview approach etc here (dont take this personally, it is their loss). 

 

I would also say you sound to be very considered in how you come across - whilst it is good to be self aware you really want to be being your self.

 

Re enthusiasm - I know you said you addressed this point but I would be interested in what way. The best way in my opinion is just to tell them, its as simple as that. In other words, at an appropriate point (early on usually) just tell them you are excited to be there and to learn more about the role, you have heard good things about the firm etc. Keep it simple, keep it genuine. Do NOT try to show "enthusiasm" with body language, smiling etc that will just come off as creepy. Don't be over the top it will come off as kiss ass and insincere. 

Someone said take other peoples advice on covering letters and CVs. In a sense I agree but you should be VERY selective about who you listen to.  For example if you got advice from a Partner whilst you might jump to the conclusion this would be valuable this advice is very often incredibly outdated, very self centred (i.e. what worked for them) and unrealistic. Everyone has a story of that one time they were going through a series of amendments with a partner who was training them and the track changes ended up going in a circle withe the final version of the "amended" document looking very much like the original document nerviously handed over to said partner 300 revisions earlier!?

Sincerity is really difficult for these sorts of roles because the elephant in the room is that however much time you spent studying in your LLB and LPC and researching law firms in reality you know jack shit, just like every other candidate, and you would accept a TC at god knows how many firms. Don't refer to firms as "up and coming gems" this suggests and understanding that you dont have, even if you read it somewhere else (I am not suggesting you would say this out loud but just in case).

 

 

Also reach out to more recruiters

 

also have you suggested you have a minimum salary 

and are you only looking at certain types of roles

 

You should be inundated with Paralegal roles to apply for with your grades etc 

because if you have a minmum salary make sure it realistically is as low as you can manage - dont price yourself out of roles. Some of the best roles are not paid well.

 

Likewise look at all sorts of para roles  - focus on responsibility and level of work as opposed to type of work or type of firm. 

I never used to be so considered, but I guess after enough rejections, it is all too easy to start over analysing everything. It often feels like because the profession is so over subscribed, HR are on the look out for the smallest detail that could eliminate a candidate. 

I completely agree with the creepy thing. I remember at one Assessment day another candidate did not stop smiling the whole time and even though I have never done that, it served as a reminded not to do that! I think I could do with making my excitement much for clear to them. I always thank them for the opportunity and express my interest in the role for reasons XYZ, which show I have done some research and care about the firm to whatever extent one can at that point. But I am not one to go overboard or really emote or humanise my responses. Perhaps I should be more expressive, so thank you for that suggestion. 

You are so spot on with the CV thing. Company hierarchies seem very different and their culture is too. I have often gotten the feeling some welcome spontaneity and others do not. Further, I know some companies are recruitment processes are very much dictated by HR, whereas others invite input from Senior Partners. 

Exactly, even after researching and googling to the greatest extent possible, there one knows so little. Confidentiality concerning clients and transactions mean little is publicised, and how well can one possible know a place without having spent time there?

I would never use the up-and-coming gem phrase to a firm! I was just being colloquial here. I was using it as more of a shorthand to describe those new firms that are made up of ex-partners from big organisations who start gaining traction slowly and then explode. 

 

 

I've never seen social media links on a CV.  I'm also not sure i've looked at a candidate's online presence.  Linkedin at most, but probably not even that, almost certainly not at paralegal level.

I often say to recruiters I don't necessarily have a minimum salary. I know at this stage in my "career", I can't run the risk of pricing myself out and am not in the position to make requests like this. 

I look at various Paralegal positions and apply for all whose bill I fit. So many do request 6 months to 2 years experience, so I know I can't apply. Others just seem out of reach, because I can't demonstrate a passion for IP or Insurance, as I have never experienced it or studied it. Of course, I have researched, but it is nowhere near enough just to have a basic knowledge of something for a role. I learned that quickly. 

hmm, have you ever discussed the fact that you are getting frustrated with the need for prior experience during interviews e.g. at the beginning of the interview when they have the general chat about your CV what you are looking for etc 

Don't self limit.  At paralegal level, if the role sounds interesting, apply for it, sod the minimum requirements they have put on the advert.  No-one worth working for is really going to expect a paralegal to know the intricacies of insurance/tax/lesser spotted frogspawn derivatives work.

Dont over polish your "performance" let the cracks show

Ive already mentioned it but just be yourself. don't necessarily change the way you are because of feedback - youll be talking to a different firm next time who may see things differently.

 

Have you applied to many firms outside the top 100. If you haventy I would suggest you do that too

@Archibald

I have addressed that the past month in interviews, because places have started asking me why I want to become a Paralegal now, as opposed to when I first finished my LPC. They naturally assume that I have only just started applying, so I tell them I have been applying for a while, but many places stipulate a certain level of Paralegal experience as a requirement and are not willing to consider transferable skills that would lend themselves to a Paralegal role. I try to make it clear I have been trying, but I try not to sound too frustrated, as that can come across as bitter and they might think don't really care about their opportunity and want any Paralegal role. 

@Lear's Fool

I did try that at first, then felt disheartened and stopped. But now I will apply for everything I like, as you are right - if I don't apply I am only counting myself out. I can tell some places advertise with extreme requirements and won't find what they're looking for, so it will make sense just to give it a go on the assumption they'll have to be less frigid.

Btw, thank you so much guys for your help!

True @Archibald, maybe they wan't to see a more human side!

Yes, actually I have applied to those at the very top and bottom. I still do, but I kinda assume with the one's outside the Top 100 that it will not go well. Often I get the feeling that they consider a Paralegal to be someone who gets the tea, buys the milk, greets clients etc. One place actually said they went with someone who had zero law experience and no LPC over me, because they didn't;t think someone with the LPC would be open to the more "office management/reception" roles, even though they never stipulated that was part of the role in question. Another firm wanted a Paralegal with five years of experience, so basically they wanted someone who has the skills of a lawyer, but at Paralegal price. So I tend to find the less renowned firms often have a very different idea of what a Paralegal is. 

ALSO - dont limit yourself to paralegal roles!!

NOt sure why I forgot this - just as every other fucker applying for a TC has the LPC, they also tend to have paralegal work. 

 

In reality you can often find you get MUCH better understanding for how a law firm works if you get involved in another business services role where you can work across the whole firm. Be that risk or business development or marketing etc. These functions assist the firm as a whole so if you find a good role in business services then rather than being siloed you will get to work with many many professionals from all different departments. I know a lot of firms who actually prefer to see this sort of experience from TC grads. If you have been involved in helping put together a bid to win some banking work that is likely to be much more interesting and educational than filling in share trasnfer forms. 

"Often I get the feeling that they consider a Paralegal to be someone who gets the tea, buys the "milk, greets clients etc."

 

Sounds like you've had a couple of unfortunate experiences - very often paralegal roles at smaller firms can be much more involving. 

 

 

Thanks guys!

I am so inspired by your feedback and will put it to good use.I'll be sure to:

1. Be more blatant with my enthusiasm in interviews.

2. Be less polished.

3. Go over my CV in case anything does seem misleading or confusing.

4. Keep on with the applications and not count anywhere out. 

5. Actually update my LinkedIn. I haven't touched it in a while and Lear mention it reminded me. 

Reading all this back, I am reminded of my flatmate at university. He was called Matthew. He was a history undergraduate. He is now a very well regarded teacher in an excellent school and has had an excellent career, responsible for the success of many students' performance in the academic and co-curricular space.

But when at University he had a total inability to objectivise himself and had two career aspirations both of which he was doomed to fail in. One was the Royal Marines. he was absolutely desperate to succeed in this and to be an officer.  He was super fit, incredibly committed, but ultimately too conformist and not comfortable enough in his own skin to be able to lead others. He was just desperate to win the appointment so he could prove he was capable of it but didn't realise he wasn't going to be any good at it. The Royal Marines knew better and he went through endless selection and rejection at the last minute.

The second was a career at Lloyds of London. He did that for a couple of years and they just told him to fuck off.  He thought of himself as this and that but to everyone else he was something else. All a bit hopeless like Pip's friend in Great Expectations. 

Then one day he decided to train as a teacher and he has been one of the best in the country - and one of the most respected modern writers on 20th Century History for two decades. 

The eureka moment was when he stopped measuring himself by what he'd like to be able to say he did, and started to be honest about his strengths and development needs.  He was immediately compelling and employable when selling himself into areas where he was naturally strong, in the same way as he was repeatedly rejectable when selling into roles that the buyer could see he was unsuited to.  What depressed us all was that it was entirely obvious to everyone but him.

 

That's a really good point @Archibald, I never thought of that. I see so many firms offer alternative roles that lie within business support, marketing, recruitment etc. I was being quite narrowly focused by looking at Paralegal roles, as I assumed that is what they wanted and it seemed like a natural progression, but I'll be sure to look at other opportunities and apply for them too. 

@Muttley, actually I have wondered if the universe is trying to tell me something! I have focused for so many years on Law, and can't really imagine another career, but I might look around and see what other opportunities I would be a good fit for me as well. 

Though it seems just when I have reached a stage where I wonder if Law is not for me, a recruiter or HR person tells me that they genuinely think I should stick on the path and law is right for me, but they just can't justify hiring someone at my experience level for the position.

So, I'll still try hard with law, but just be open-minded!

can you please never use the word "gotten" again, ever. I think this will improve your prospects.

same can apply, Callum, within law = I really want to be a massive M&A Penis etc whereas in fact I would be a really good commercial contracts fella etc

Muttley  - such an important point and one so few young people are given!!!

 

And again, not to rile against the legal profession buy any profession that creates swathes of 15 year olds who want to "be a lawyer" "be a doctor" be a [insert profession here]"  can only be doing so if the aspiration is often founded in "status" or the views of "others". You should not know what you want to do at that age. in fact you shouldnt know what you want to do till MUCH later. 

 

This is one of the things I find so sad about the legal profession  - there are so few genuinely passionate lawyers and so many for which the profession has been chosen on the basis of the views of other people. I predict this will change over coming years as the ones who are genuinely passionate stand out so much

That's a good point. I like a range of areas and look forward to eventually experiencing them during a TC. I am open to (and have applied for) Paralegal opportunities in many practice areas, but as my LPC modules were Corporate ones, many places seem to think I can only do that!

Passion or lack thereof is always revealed sooner rather than later, but sometimes one has to get to a certain place to realise it is or isn't there. I met so many people during my degree that were following in a parent's footsteps or treated Law like a back-up and it is clear they won't remain in the profession. Others will think they have it, as they have yet to find true passion, but will eventually discover they are on the wrong path. I say it is important to try one's best, find good opportunities, listen to signals and whatever is meant to be will be. 

I have sought guidance today just in case something has been amiss with my attempts so far, and do not doubt my passion, but circumstances can change and I like to maintain a level of self-awareness. Everyone would benefit from that.  

I read your posts understanding what you say and agreeing with much of it but my overriding sense is would you please smoke a massive bifta and chill a bit, step back from the micro analysis and think about what it's all about but do not try to be a paralegal managing partner before you've even cast off your chrysalis.  I think what comes over with many graduates and students of the modern era is a slight sense that you think this is all an exam question which can be defeated by working and working on the marking scheme and that if you show enough work has been done on it all then you will get a good mark.

It's not like that. It's about whether your head is settled. I don't think yours is. That's fine - most people's aren't by that stage. But where you may be making a mistake is trying to give the impression that it is.  So just stop trying so hard.  

Mainly what mutters said.  Basically just keeping putting the applications in and something will turn up eventually. 

Competition for jobs is mental and unless you are lucky enough to nab a training contract at the 'right' time (i.e. when at uni) this profession can be a bit of a b1tch to get into.

Dont be a lawyer, its really very shit. Being a paralegal is even more shit. 

Go and go something else, the universe is telling you to. 

 

and yeah, maybe be careful that you are not being too 'try hard' particularly in interviews with the more senior lawyers. HR will probably lap up all the commercial awareness stuff but for a paralegal role the partner is likely to primarily be looking for someone who has a brain and will do a lot of not terribly interesting work with something approximating a smile on their face and maintaining focus/attention to detail. 

But mainly, keep putting the applications in and something will turn up...

I don't think you rude Muttley, thanks for the "blunt" advice! ;)

I think years and years of schooling ingrains the mark scheme mentality. I will try to shake it off and be less analytical. 

So true Donny! I have noticed that if you don't get a TC during your second year, it takes much longer for one to materialise. I never hear about third years or newly graduated LPC students getting one. As the saying goes, timing is everything. 

LOL @????

@Mr Hargreaves, I like Basketball, fitness, travelling, drawing and doing some pro bono. I always mention these on my CV and in my apps. 

Definitely do not fail to apply because you don't have exactly the fit / experience specified 

not that it matters but are you a woman? They say most men will apply for a role if they fit at least 50% of the job spec (or thereabouts) but women tend not to unless they fulfill it almost perfectly 

(my career started to get places when I stopped doing this)

There is something still not right about how we prepare students to get qualifications versus how we measure graduates, trainees and qualified lawyers on performance and suitability. 

The former are encouraged to demonstrate how quickly and breathlessly they can blurt out key information to satisfy the examiner or tutor as to their ability to retain what’s been taught. 

The latter carry this behaviour into their performance at interview or in role and it’s exactly the opposite of what makes a good lawyer. I have lost count of the number of times I have spoken to lawyers from trainee to senior associate and told them to hold back not hold forth.

Clients (and interviewers) don’t want to know how much you know. They don’t want to be shown how clever you are by how quickly you can rattle off stuff. Answering a difficult question breathlessly fast causes them to worry not to be assured. It says to them ‘I’m so smart I can see an instant answer, which must make you a fool for not knowing and having to ask it’ but they know it’s a tricky question or they wouldn’t be raising it, because they are not a fool, so the speedy answer actually says ‘I haven’t thought this through well and I’m firing from the hip’.  The only reaction that going on in their head is ‘yes ok thanks - please find me someone I can trust and rely on’. 

Answer a difficult question with maturity and thought and maybe even an acknowledgement that it’s difficult and there is no simple answer, and that they were right to raise it, and you’d like to think about that. This tells them you’re calm and wise. 

Interviewers will be similarly concerned or reassured. Firing off the planned response or making knee jerk corrections (some visible above) or use or exclamation (verbally or in writing) will connote the same and indicates emotional control or lack of it and maturity of approach or lack of it. 

 

That's so interesting @lindaradlett, I am a male, but I only tend to apply for jobs where I fit most of the criteria. The only times I will apply for a job that I don't fit the criteria for are when the part I do not meet is to do with using a particular system (as one can always learn a new system) or they require a particular amount of experience, which I am just short of. 

 

I agree @Muttley. The skills education and its structure encourage and develop often do not translate well into business. I think the aim of the skills developed at school is to help young brains develop and help students reach their potential. The problem is that there is no obvious next stage to teach people how to unlearn skills that are no longer necessary, harness the good ones and develop new ones, like how to be concise. The LPC helps to some extent, but it probably isn't enough. 

+1 for keep on keeping on with applications.

i havent read all this thread but you did say at one point you are getting interviews and second interviews, when it falls away because of lack of experience.

dont be put off by this - it might well be that you dont necessarily lack experience, just that another candidate has more. I can def see this being the case if the role is for a particular client or project when some other lucky bugger has done v similar before and you havent.

recruiters are generally inherently lazy, they like a nice round peg for a round hole.

sooner or later a role will come up thats more for you than all the others on the circuit, but in meantime keep applying for everything. Especially over the summer - yes it goes quiet but on the other hand lots of candidates at a loose end will go on holiday just when something urgent comes up..

Thanks Minkie, that is an excellent way of looking at it!

I will remain vigilant and hope that loads of people go on holiday...

What everyone else said. I am sure when looking in my crystal ball, that you will get a TC and qualify. Keep on keepin’ on.

pls dont ever become a paralegal.

ever

let the seas rise and the fires take us all b4 u do that

srsly

let every christian become a small potato every hindo some barley wine and every muslim become a pea soup (veganfriendly) 

b

4

u

do

that

i am going to say srsly again.

srsly

I always assumed people would rather not be disturbed ... as we always hear how busy lawyers are. 

Mate you're posting this on ROF...

I still do, but I kinda assume with the one's outside the Top 100 that it will not go well. Often I get the feeling that they consider a Paralegal to be someone who gets the tea, buys the milk, greets clients etc.

Stop assuming, it's holding you back.  Each firm is different.  Each department is different.  Each team is different.  Each partner is different.  Some will have the above attitude, most won't.  

Keep an eye open for in-house roles that might be paralegal-type gigs badged in different ways - legal assistant, business support, that kind of thing.  My last IH place had a devil of a job filling a legal assistant role that would've been perfect for an LPC grad scratching around for a year or two (would've been supporting legal ops with panel firm management so would have been the golden ticket to a TC for someone). Look at compliance teams, look at risk, look at procurement, look at contract management roles.  Anything that's badged as entry level or assistant in a big corporate will probably just need a bright bum on a seat for a year or two and you can upsell it in TC interviews.

Also bear in mind that a lot of places are shortly going to lose some of their paralegals as they go swanning off on travels before starting TCs, so new opportunities will arise before too long.

Chin up.

Callum, your comment, 11 July 15:49: "Not animated enough?" How could they tell? Most solicitors lack a personality, or if they once possessed one, it is drummed out of them by the PQE plus-5 mark.

As for grades, you need to have obtained A*s and Firsts since you were en ventre ta mere

You also need connections; what business can you bring to the firm?

What non-legal experience have you got? You don't need to have won the DSO for leading a platoon taking on 400 Taliban in Helmand Province or rowed solo across the Atlantic, but it seems you need something impressive.

As for replies, well done.  Most law firms are incredibly rude - they hardly reply at all. Even if it is a buyers' market, a reply (not a standard one) but one written by a human, and preferably by post and e-mail, creates a good impression with potential recruits.

As for agencies; I would submit that most of the jobs on the websites don't exist, or the vacancies are already internally filled, or the firm have recruited someone they know, or perhaps one of the partner's nieces/nephews. Ultimately, it's about who you know, regardless of grades.

Dear Wang's upon a time. I agree.

Too late for oneself, though, having learnt the hard way. Being a paralegal means being spoken to like a dog-turd by all but the support staff, though some senior PAs will speak to you condescendingly, too. 

Callum; 11 July 19:07.

The skills you learnt at school, like the pidgin French you learnt, mean jack ****, as does most of what you learnt on the LLB in years One and Two.

My advice, do something else with your life till you are in your late 20s, early 30's. Travel. The current, standard way or educating and training potential lawyers is totally flawed. If someone has come via an LLB, they are not as well-rounded as one who has lived life and has come via the GDL.

Get out of the law trap for a few years; it kills the 'self'. Make sure most of your close friends are outside the law, but not so-called ones from school. You should spend most of your life trying to avoid them. The friendships you make on your travels are the ones you should cultivate. 

Callum, your comment, 11 July 15:49: "Not animated enough?" How could they tell? Most solicitors lack a personality, or if they once possessed one, it is drummed out of them by the PQE plus-5 mark.

As for grades, you need to have obtained A*s and Firsts since you were en ventre ta mere. 

You also need connections; what business can you bring to the firm?

What non-legal experience have you got? You don't need to have won the DSO for leading a platoon taking on 400 Taliban in Helmand Province or rowed solo across the Atlantic, but it seems you need something impressive.

As for replies, well done.  Most law firms are incredibly rude - they hardly reply at all. Even if it is a buyers' market, a reply (not a standard one) but one written by a human, and preferably by post and e-mail, creates a good impression with potential recruits.

As for agencies; I would submit that most of the jobs on the websites don't exist, or the vacancies are already internally filled, or the firm have recruited someone they know, or perhaps one of the partner's nieces/nephews. Ultimately, it's about who you know, regardless of grades.

Hmm.

I'm really not sure I agree with most of that. 

1. Personality.  Yes, ok you have a point.  But if the candidate begins life with a one dimensional personality, imagine how utterly dull they will be after the first five years?  Best hire people where a vestige may remain. 

2. Grades.  That's just not right.  It might be for the top ten, but not the top twenty or top 50, and top 50 still do some really interesting work.

3. Connections.  In a paralegal?  Bringing business is my job.  If a paralegal has connections they want to, and can appropriately, use, then great. But that's really not why you're hiring the paralegals.

4. Non legal experience.  There is something to this.  But bear in mind it needs to be genuinely impressive, and genuinely impressive can be community based, travel based, business based, anything.  I'm more likely to be impressed by someone who has foudn and taken a moderately impressive opportunity than by someone who has been handed a really impressive one.

5. Replies?  YEs, ok, with you here.  It would be polite to reply.

6. Agencies may well be rubbish.  but hiring idiot undergrads?  Less likely.  

Often I get the feeling that they consider a Paralegal to be someone who gets the tea, buys the milk, greets clients etc

 

 

no way paralegals get that close to clients. Gets to greet the dawn in the pallid pizza filled internal room full of boxes and PC monitors. Yeah that.

Thanks for all the advice guys.

@Miss T - thanks - I won't give up!

@ deltabravo, thank you - I'll be sure to widen my net. I feel like the roles you have mentioned would be ideal for someone tis a law degree and LPC. 

@ SecularJurist, I definitely agree about the importance of connections. I don't have any familiar or friend connections with anyone in a position of influence within a law firm - only Paralegals and Trainees. So, this might be making it harder. I always sell my transferable skills from all of my office jobs, and law firms like it, but always reiterate how important legal experience is, even if a job I am applying for is essentially admin. 

@Lear's_fool, what you are saying makes so much sense to me. That's the overall picture I have been getting, that Paralegals aren't really expected to bring any sort of business, but offer support to those who do. Personality does seem to be important, as the majority of trainees and Paralegals I have met in law firms seem to be vivacious. 

LOL @ Muttley!

There's a peculiar instance where people want experience in order to hire you, but of course you can't get the experience if everybody hires on that basis.

I believe that you will likely improve your chances by targeting specific firms and in particular the hiring managers in the paralegal teams or particular partner(s) in corporate or litigation (areas which tend to need the most paralegal help). I was a paralegal and applied directly to firms when I saw adverts. This was out of law school with no paralegal experience at all. It was ten years or so ago now (without a TC), but it worked out very well in the end.  And I had no real business applying to the firms I did but that never stopped me.

People are human, on the right day they will read such emails and take note. I still do it myself. You might also try calling first or asking to speak to someone before sending a completely cold email, but I found both methods work.

From your CV as listed, there's no reason not to be hired at least for a paralegal role. The TC thing is interesting and given your qualifications, must be a case of both bad timing and perhaps in the past, bad interview technique. Good luck

Wibble, 11 July 17:24.

That's what the voice in my head always says, but one is not intensively trained or educated to do anything else.

I've travelled but want to do so again. But, shit jobs and no jobs means being caught in the trap for now.

Sorry, Callum. Don't mean to discourage you. You have got to be truly committed to becoming and remaining as a lawyer. Any doubts, then don't do it.

Callum, on RoF one posts one's own views. You might not agree with our embittered/realistic/cynical/eye-opening posts (take your pick). Make your own decisions, but do not kid yourself or nod like one of those toy dogs one used to see in cars when (or if) your mum or dad says you should be a lawyer.

Some of us are lawyering/paralegalling because we know nothing else. I've got a hobby which I hope will be my main income. Till then, we are procrastinating, struggling and digging Tom, Dick and Harry to escape. 

Callum 11 July, 11:35 .

your extra curric. interests. Make them stand out. 

Pro bono? Specify. Where? CAB? via the Uni pro bono unit?  Which areas? housing, employment?

Basketball, any e.g's of that? Playing in a team, or tournament, for instance?

Drawing: what type, and have you submitted any for publication, or self-published? Designed posters for the student law soc ball?

Travelling: Where? What did you do? Learn a language, work abroad, do a gap 'yah'?

Fitness: you mean a running club, or just weights, dumbbells at home?

Archibald.

No. One should never calm down. You're a conformist, I'm a dissident. So there. 

Os this Student posting again from the days of Orange One?