StudyingLaw.co.uk Blog & News

Developing your commercial awareness

A key buzzword in any legal application process is ‘commercial awareness’. However, whilst firms are constantly looking out for commercially-aware application, showing you know what that means and how you can apply it is not always that easy.

What is commercial awareness? Commercial awareness is an understanding and general knowledge of current developments in the commercial and business sector. This might range from mergers and acquisitions, to new laws on tax or changes in the economy.

What do law firms expect me to know? Whilst most firms won’t expect you to know every commercial development that happens, you should have a general idea of the main stories, as well as an understanding of how theoretical changes might affect the firm. For example, if a firm does a large amount of international business, an understanding of exchange rates would be important.

How should I keep up-to-date? Reading a quality newspaper is always a good start. Look at the business and financial pages and try to keep up with stories as they play out. The Financial Times is probably the most useful as it offers in-depth and comprehensive content. If some of your friends are applying for financial careers, it would be worth talking to them about their views on the commercial world; they will also have to show commercial awareness, so you can share ideas and discuss developments.

Should I learn anything in detail? As a rule of thumb, it is useful to know one or two detailed case studies which you can then bring up in application forms or interviews. Think specifically about how you chosen case study is relevant to the law, and specifically to the firm you are applying to. Show that you have followed the case with interest, and make sure you have your facts straight!

Are they any other ways I can demonstrate commercial awareness? You probably show commercial awareness every day without even thinking about it. If you run a university society you have to think financially to make sure everything goes smoothly. You can also sign up to your legal societies, many of whom offer workshops about commercial awareness. You might also consider working at the Citizens’ Advice Bureau or going to talks by guest speakers.

Commercial awareness, then, is not easy to pin down. However, if you retain a general interest in the news and keep up-to-date with business developments, you should be fine. Remember to think about how you show commercial awareness in various aspects of your life; being commercially aware is more impressive than just knowing what it is.

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The Law Fair: Why you should check it out

Now that the new term is firmly under way, it’s time to start thinking about your career in law. A great place to do this is your university law fair, where you can find out all the things different firms have to offer.

Something for everyone. Law fairs are essential sources of information for anyone who is interested in pursuing a career in law. Whether you’re set on being a barrister, considering becoming a solicitor, or just want to know more about the legal profession, law fairs will provide you with a wealth of information. Graduate recruiters, trainees, and even qualified lawyers will all be on hand to answer any questions you may have. You’ll be able to pick up a variety of booklets and brochures containing everything you need to make your application for a training contract, vacation scheme or placement.

Time for a chat. Law fairs are the perfect opportunity for you to get some facetime with people you’re applying to work for. Don’t be afraid to go and have a chat with them about the firm; talk to them about how the firm operates, what kind of opportunities they offer, and smooth out any questions you have about their recruitment process. Ask them about their own career and whether they have any tips for someone hoping to follow in their footsteps. Before you go, think about any unique questions you have to ask them – this will help you stand out. Mention in your application that you met them, and focus on how their answers might have strengthened your resolve to apply.

Find out the crucial information. If you don’t have the opportunity to talk to every firm or chambers, make sure you’ve still got the key facts you need. Things to find out include:

  • Location – are they based on the high-street, or do they have a large city headquarters?
  • Size – are they an international company with thousands of staff, or is it a close-knit office environment?
  • Training prospects – how many trainees do they hire each year, and what opportunities are they offered?
  • Funding – do they pay for your LPC or BPTC, or will you be expected to find the money yourself?
  • Practice areas – what do they specialise in, and does this suit your interests?

Explore other possibilities. If you’ve already got your mind set on a city law firm or you’d prefer an in-house job, don’t close your mind to other possibilities. Check out the variety of different options on offer, as you might find out you prefer something else. Moreover, if you’re even more sure afterwards, demonstrating a knowledge of the other options on offer will improve your applications; you’ll be able to show not only why you want to work in a certain place, but also why you don’t want to work at the rest. If the city is for you, show your knowledge of the high-street firms, and why that isn’t the path you want to take.

Keep track of your information. Rather like freshers fair, you’ll probably leave a law fair with a huge collection of literature, mugs and pens. When you get home, sort it all out and work out what is most important for you. Read through the information you have about the places you want to apply to and note all the deadlines. Pick out anything that you find especially attractive so that you can focus on it in your applications. Make note of key phrases and features so you won’t waste time hunting about later.

So write down those questions, bring a bag for the freebies, and head off to that fair!

Thinking about a career in law? 5 Top Application Boosters

Read a good newspaper

Law is an integral part of modern life and plays a huge part in current events. Simultaneously, the law has to react to major developments in the world in order to function successfully. A good lawyer must keep themselves informed about a Read a quality newspapervariety of topics, from politics to finance. Law firms, therefore, are looking for applicants who have a broad understanding of major news stories. Reading quality newspapers such as The Times, The Financial Times and The Telegraph will help you discuss current affairs in an intelligent and detailed manner.

Don’t neglect your hobbies

“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Law firms are looking for people they want to work with, rather than legal robots. Taking up a sport, learning a craft or volunteering for a local cause are all great ways to boost your application and help you stand out as an individual. Moreover, you can develop your talents, creativity, or team work skills, all while having fun!

Attend an insight day or open evening

With a huge variety of law graduate jobs, both in terms of specific practice fields and types of law firms and barrister chambers, it’s important to show that you know where and why you want to work at a specific firm. Many employers offer opportunities to find out more about what they do, such as open evenings. By attending these, you can gain a sense of what it would be like to work at a firm and build relationships with the lawyers currently working there. This means that upon application, you can show that you understand the working environment and can explain exactly why it is suited to you.

Brush up on your interview techniques

An interview is an important part of any application process and you should use it to really make a positive impression. Make sure you are prepared to answer any questions about your written application. A good thing to do is to read through it beforehand, imagine you are the interviewer, and think about what you would ask. Take a moment to think through any questions, and don’t be afraid to say you don’t know the answer – recruiters will know immediately if you are bluffing, so it’s better to just be honest. If you’re not feeling confident about an interview, make use of your university or college’s career service, as they can offer mock interviews and tailored advice.

Look out for tick-160426_640errors

Grammatical errors and spelling mistakes can be fatal to your applications. Graduate recruiters receive thousands of applications, and distinguishing between them can be really difficult. Misspelling a word provides them with an easy way to reject you; if you don’t check your application, which is really important for you, are you going to properly check a legal document which doesn’t personally affect you? Read over each application a number of times and don’t just rely on a spellchecker.

Applications are a second job

I work full time and what should be a 9-5 job ends up being much longer hours, but this is the life of a paralegal working at a silver circle firm. So making time for training contract applications and actually having a life outside of work can actually feel like they are jobs in themselves!  How do you fit it all in?

For me, it’s about balance. You really do need to look at everything you have to do in front of you, and plan your time effectively, and not be lazy. But I’m sure this is no big revelation to any of you! If you want something badly, you HAVE to put in the effort. It’s just the same as work, if you want a promotion you put in the effort. If you want a training contract, you put in the effort. And it will pay off.

Congratualtions to all of you that have Vac schemes coming up, prepare well for them. Knowledge can impress potential recruiters. And remember the majority of training contract deadlines are coming up in July, so get moving and think to yourself you’re almost there!

Good luck!

Time is ticking! Get your hands on a £2,000 bursary

A post from TARGETcourses.

For many people considering a postgraduate course, how to fund it is the main cause for concern. It can even be a deterrent. It’s a case of finding funding, applying, and waiting, (potentially lots of waiting), often only to find that you have been unsuccessful and have to repeat the process.

Prospective students are tormented by questions like: where do I find postgraduate funding? Will it be enough? Am I eligible?

And even though there are lots of options available – studentships, bursaries, grants and loans, and employers may also help fund a postgraduate course for those in employment – demand continues to exceed supply.

More help is on its way.  At TARGETcourses we are giving away five £2,000 bursaries. These are open to ALL prospective students, and will help pay fees for a postgraduate course at a UK university in 2013/14.

The application process consists of three questions, to be answered in no more than a total of 1,000 words.

  • How will postgraduate study contribute to your career goals?
  • How will your postgraduate experience and qualification benefit the community, the economy or indeed any other person or group?
  • Apart from academic knowledge, what else do you expect to learn from postgraduate study?

The closing date for applications is 30 June 2013. Enter here: http://targetcourses.co.uk/bursary-competition

You Need to Show the Recruiter You Care

You need to show the recruiter that you care about their firm and you really want to work there. You want to make them feel like you want to work for them over and above every other firm, not that they are one of many firms you are applying to just to enable you to get a training contract.

Think of it being a bit like dating. People do not want to be asked out on a date solely because they are single and available. Instead they want to be asked on a date because there is something about them that the other person likes. They need to know that the other person cares.

The same goes for law firms. They do not want you to apply to them just because they are one of the many firms out there that are available (ie offering training contracts). Instead they want you to convince them that there is something about them that you particularly like and that is why you are interested in them.

As well as showing that you are interested in them, you also need to show that you have made an effort to impress them. If you display to them a lack of care and effort by having mistakes in your applications then that may well be the end of a very short relationship.

This article is an extract from the eBook “21 Secrets to Successful Applications” written by Matt Oliver of Trainee Solicitor Surgery. Get a free copy of the full eBook here.

My first trip to Lincoln’s Inn

Every Law student is familiar with the Inns of Court. There are four Inns of court, Lincoln’s Inn, Inner Temple, Middle Temple and Gray’s Inn. In order for one to progress their career at the bar, they have to join an Inn, it is what you call an association for Barristers.

You will find these Inns in the capital of London. Personally I had never been to an inns of court before but recently I visited Lincoln’s Inn for the first time, c’est magnifique!

Lincoln’s inn is in Holborn for those who are planning on visiting, most universities get invited, we were allocated 8 places like the other universities that attended this is due to high demands. The building was amazingly beautiful, the grass was the greenest of the greens even on the mistiest greyest day that we travelled. It sounds too good to be true, but just look at those pictures. We was all suited up, dressed fresh and smart, looking the part; as soon as we entered the premises, our eyes wandered around the beauty of inside the building, the carpet was spotlessly clean, god knows how many years they had it but still, cleaner than samples at carpet shops! (the good way)

The reception was wonderful, they offered us a choice of Coffee and tea, I’m not much a fan of coffee but the tea was splendid, in the room there was oil paintings of various people, the one I remembered the most was Margaret Thatcher, I couldn’t help but admire it, the artist painted her in a good light haha.

After everybody introduced their selves and drank tea, we were directed to the great hall where barristers were giving us talks, I’m pretty sure that the theme of the talks was to put potential barristers off, they played this game where everybody was given a random number more than 100 but less than 200 because I can’t remember the exact amount, at the end of the game the people whose number was left standing were apparently going to become practicing barristers, and again I’m pretty confident it was less than 20 people standing. Scary really, but that’s statistics for you. I think by trying to put us off is a good thing because those who are left standing are those who will be the ones who are fully committed to the bar.

After the talks there was another drinks reception but this time they were serving alcohol beverages and orange juice, so those who like wine, you’d love the drink receptions, they served white wine and red, that is as far as I know about alcohol seeing as though I do not drink it lol. Everybody was enjoying their selves really, barristers were conversing with us fellow students.

The next part is the most important part, this is because you need etiquette! The Dinner. There are certain rules which you must abide by, like firstly, NO MOBILE PHONES! I know what you’re thinking, but it is very rude to have mobile phones out during dinner especially in the presence of other barristers, you could probably affect your potential employment, it’s better to be safe than sorry. The dinner that was served was very sophisticated looking, similiar to a 5* restuarant, for my Starter I was given an Avocado Salad with Artichoke,  the main course was white Fish in a cream green leak sauce with parsley potatoes and chantenay carrots. There was two types of cutlery given, honestly I did not know what to do, I asked the barrister who was sitting in front of me, it was quite embarrassing, she told me exactly what that woman “new money”told Leonardo Di Caprio in a scene of the movie titanic, “start from the outside, work your way in”. Although I’d say the fish knife resembled a spatula. So finally dessert arrived and it was a Chocolate tart with mango and strawberry sauce, it was very rich and sickly to my liking but I still enjoyed it. During the whole dinner, the waiters and waitresses, was topping every bodies wine glasses up, no one ever had an empty glass, but back to the subject of etiquette if you don’t want to drink tip your wine glass down, I pretty much tipped all my glasses down and the barrister in front of me thought I was pretty extreme LOL.

Overall the trip was brilliant, I met lovely people! And I would definitely recommend it to those who are faced with the opportunity!

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See you soon!

 

 

Idealism…..Where has it gone?

Intro

This blog post shall primarily be an honest and open piece focusing on idealism but also on the sad realization of reality and the annoying moment when someone tells you NO!

As a premise to this blog – I am currently writing this blog at 4.03am (insomniac), I have just watched three films (two of which I can recommend) and I had this sudden urge to announce what I shall dedicate my life to. I would like to say that I am very lucky to know what I want to do with my life and if you see me in 10 years working in some small corporate firm earning money just for the sake of earning money – Please feel free to shoot me!

I’m about to turn 21 – How can I possibly know what I want to do with myself you ask? 

It’s because I’m honest enough to admit I’m idealistic, I often cite that I want to change the world which is often met with snorty derision and countless pairs of eyes taking a spin.

But when you think about it – would you really want to live in a world where people stopped wanting to change the world for the better?

If you go back do you really think that Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King or Mother Teresa honestly thought they’d be seen as International icons of equality and protectors of Civil Rights? OF COURSE NOT!

I would like to point out that in no way am I arrogant enough to consider myself anywhere near as brilliant and visionary as these legendary people but my point is….It Only Takes One Person! Why can’t it be you and we are in no way in a state of being where everyone is protected or equal.

Why me?
Why the Hell Not? There is no criteria for people who change the world, or is there? I’m gonna quickly Google – Just Google’d and nope, still no criteria which you must meet before you are allowed to change the world so I’m still okay to continue my plans.

So what do you want to do? 

The last time I read there still remains over 80 Countries (not sure if this is U.N or Commonwealth) and at least five countries where Homosexuality is Punishable by DEATH! I mean, in the 21st century you can still be killed if you’re a man who loves a man!

So I plan to dedicate to my life to Removing the Death Penalty in Countries where it is still punishable by Death!

I recently met a truly inspirational barrister at the 11th Annual Stonewall Lecture: From Silence To Safety: Protecting the gay refugee and the lecture was brilliant – it certainly helped me realize what I want to do – he does some amazing work protecting gay asylum seekers in this country which included the groundbreaking decision in HJ (Iran) and HT (Cameroon) v. Secretary of State for the Home Department. (Read the case)

Apparently, it is the second time of the supreme court (and i think including H of L) where the judgement was met with applause! (Little fun fact for you)

This case was revolutionary in changing the law – so if this man can change the law in this country – why can’t I change the law in other countries?

Before attending this lecture I read the No Going Back report also published by Stonewall which detailed the appalling treatment of gay refugees by the UK Border Agency so we are far from equal or free in this country? What’s worse, the treatment of LGBT people in these countries is often unseen, accepted by communities merely because of social attitudes and unjust laws.

 

What Next?

Well I’m currently a second year LL.B student, so still have somewhere to go before being in a position to do this but I have a plan –

If all goes to plan, my dissertation will exactly be on this topic – gives me a great chance to further research the area and it actually counts towards my degree…Couldn’t think of a better thing to research tbh. I’ve found an  internship with Asociación Entre Amigos working in their Anti-Homophobia Legal Clinic in which they promote better social attitudes, change policy and advance equality.  I then hope to pursue the American Civil Liberties Union as an LGBT paralegal and subsequently apply to Columbia University for their Human Rights Masters Program, but I’ll need the LL.M fellowship to do this as I couldn’t really afford $75,000.

It’s then flying back to Home Soil where hopefully I can begin a career with the Human Rights Dignitary Trust and completing the BPTC part time, being called to the Bar and securing Pupillage.

And during my practice at the Bar, I hope to gain international jurisdiction to understand foreign legal systems and to hopefully protect people on a larger scale – It then becomes a matter of lobbying, changing social attitudes and changing the law.

And hopefully the day will come where Iran, Mauritania, Sudan, Saudi Arabia and Yemen will renounce their death penalties.

Oh Don’t forget, I also wanna get married during all of this and raise children – Busy Busy Life indeed!

Wish me Luck!

 

 

 

What you wont be prepared for studying law.

Hello, my freaky darlings.

this is my first post here, just wanted to say hello and that 🙂

Im currently in my second year of LLB law at university, its been awesome at times and absolutely soul destroying at others.

there are so many things i wasn’t prepared for, but id have loved to have been told about, and after asking a lot of people, some seem pretty common 🙂

so, for anyone in first year, or whos looking at law school, here are  the things i wish someone had sat me down about :

you may as well get your post forwarded to the library :  indeed, that place will be your home, canteen, bed, and torture chamber, all wrapped into one, book filled place. particularly around assignment time, its better than any social networking site known to mankind for bringing your entire course to one place. piece of advice : get the books you want quick, they go fast. also, the coffee in the vending machines, that black sludge with a caffeine content that would tarmac drives with ? it will be your new best friend by October. come Christmas, you wont even notice the taste.

you will make some awesome friends : i personally have met some incredible people on this course, and there’s no quicker bonding experience than hammering out an essay in the early hours and trying to make lord of the rings puns about the direct effect of EU directives. admittedly, if you’re like me and your family haven’t been solicitors and barristers since the dawn of time, you will feel a slight intimidation of those people. you’ll recognize them fast enough. advice : don’t get intimidated. just because mummy and daddy are successful doesn’t mean they know more than you.

your friends new favorite question will be ” is it legal …?” leading to hilarious, and often worrying, consequences that will cause you to wonder about what kind of people you associate with. my personal favorite is still ” if i kill someone using a metal bar, and then have to get home. will i be allowed to get on the bus with the bar?”. A quick answer, if you don’t know “if you have to ask, probably don’t try it”

you will never quite get the facts of certain cases out of your head : there are some cases that will burn and burrow their way into the deepest recesses of your soul, if not because they’re particularly vile, but you’ve studied it for so long now you can quote verbatim the judges decision. R v Brown, and R v Slingsby are my personal ones (which, considering the facts, says things about me im not willing to address), which leads to not being to look at an individual desk without wincing. awkward at exam times.

buy a good, strong bag. them law books are heavy! ive had three strap bags break under the weight of the law (i think im funny). also, your shoulders will hate you.

so thats it basically. im aware this seemed overwhelmingly negative, its not.  law school is interesting, even if its hard work. enjoy.

Mia.