Posted by Sophie Webb, Solicitor
Becoming a trainee with a non-law degree
If you’re not studying law and considering a career as a solicitor, how does your non-law degree affect your chances of securing a training contract? Read below for tips on how to make the most of the other skills you have to offer.
“Why law?” It’s a question all training contract applicants are likely to be asked at some point. For those of us who did not study the subject at university, we can’t pretend that we “found the tort module fascinating and cannot wait to put it into practice”, or that we have “had a passion for drafting contracts ever since I studied it in second year”. But does that really matter?
Most law firms currently offer training contracts to a large number of non-law graduates. At Royds Withy King, only half studied law. It is important to remember that academic knowledge of the law is only one part of being a solicitor. If you haven’t done a law degree, you need to focus more on other aspects. Below is a list of ways you can do that:
1) Focus on the ‘transferable skills’ your university careers adviser keeps on mentioning. Arts graduates often have very impressive research skills while those who studied the sciences often have extremely analytical minds and give attention to the smallest detail. These are things which are essential to being a solicitor and are skills which a law graduate might not have had as much chance to develop.
2) Know what skills a good lawyer needs and have examples of when you have used them. This goes for any applicant, regardless of what degree they have done. However, as a non-law graduate, you have access to a far more varied range of experiences than a law graduate. Not only does your non-law degree require different academic skills, but it also means you are involved with different people and different activities during your time at university.
3) Show off your diverse interests. Interviewers hear the same things over and over again. In order to be more original and stand out from the crowd, a law student has to rely on extra-curricular activities, whereas you have a deep knowledge of a topic most interviewers probably know little about. I studied history and, during the presentation stage of the Royds Withy King interviews, did a quiz on the Tudors. Being able to talk passionately about something other than the law makes you a far more interesting candidate.
4) Show commitment to a career in law. You might hear this phrase quite a bit throughout your applications and interviews. If you’ve studied three years of law and signed up for the LPC, it’s much easier to show than a non-law graduate. To turn this around, you need to put the hard work in yourself; apply for work experience placements, join a “Law for non-law society” at uni (or set one up yourself for extra bonus points!), and attend law fairs to get your name known to the recruiters in person. This not only shows you’ve done your research, but shows a lot of initiative – something else recruiters will like.
You can find details of law fairs which Royds Withy King will be attending on our website.
Hopefully this blog has given a few ideas as to how a non-law degree can actually be used in your favour rather than as a hindrance when applying for training contracts. In summary, recruiters like interesting candidates who can bring a wide range of skills to the role. A non-law degree develops these skills and provides opportunities which can help you stand out from the large number of other candidates.
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