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Routes into Law: A Traditional Route(?)

I am Dan, a Trainee Solicitor and one of the two Social Representatives for the Merseyside Junior Lawyers Division.

From an early age, I had an insight into the legal profession. My Grandad did, and still does, practice as a Criminal Solicitor. I can remember early on being fascinated by him dictating notes, discussing files and listening to stories about the sort of work he had been involved in. So, when it came to deciding what I wanted to go on and study at university, it seemed an obvious choice to study Law.

When I went to Sixth Form, I did not study law. I studied Chemistry, Psychology, Biology and Religion & Ethics. It is certainly not a requirement to study A-Level Law in order to go on to study Law at degree level. I would also say that you are not set back, at least not noticeably, by not studying Law prior. In terms of the next step, that was choosing where to go to University. I applied for various unis but did have my heart set on the University of Liverpool (UoL). Once exams were done, I took a 5-week trip to Thailand. I flew out alone and was put on a trip with thirty other young people which was a great experience. I returned just in time for A-Level results day and went to collect my results. I was upset to find out that I had narrowly missed out on my place at UoL. However, I was reassured I could probably go if I called them. The same day, I fell ill and ended up in hospital with Meningitis, from a foreign virus I had caught whilst away. I remained in hospital for a couple of weeks and still didn’t have a place at university. I knew Liverpool was the place for me, so I went through clearing to Liverpool John Moores (JMU) whilst still admitted. I definitely believe that some things are meant to be. I had the best four years at JMU, where I completed my LLB Undergraduate Degree and continued on to the Legal Practice Course with Masters. I cannot overstate how great I believe the teaching was at JMU. Especially on the LPC, where tutors have so much time for you. I know this allowed me to develop a passion for Law and Legal Practice.

I think the single most important thing which has helped me progress quickly into law has been my varied work experience. A Lawyer Lecturer, I had at university once told me that they had ‘learned some of the most applicable skills for working in legal practice whilst working over a till counter and serving difficult customers in Sainsburys’. I would have to agree that my experiences have definitely facilitated my route into law and developed a common sense view towards working. Legal practice requires many skills which are learnt from well-rounded experience and working on the job.

From a young age, I had worked on my family’s stalls within Blackpool since it has a busy tourist industry. I was always able to sell to customers and build quick relationships. Throughout school, college, and university, I continued to work in customer, client and patient-facing roles which had a big impact on my own development and people skills. On the LPC I was conscious that I had little legal work experience. My exposure consisted of attending my Grandad’s practice and often waiting in the back of the Courtroom, on the occasions I was going back home to Blackpool. One day whilst in an LPC class, I stayed behind to introduce myself to a guest lecturer and firm Practice Manager. I expressed how much I wanted the opportunity to get some hands-on legal experience and I attended her firm weekly- until the pandemic hit. Whilst there, I assisted quickly on trial preparation and attending counsel briefings which were hugely insightful.

From there, I worked at Slater & Gordon, my first legal role, where I worked in their Legal Advice Team. This allowed me to develop my legal research skills in a range of practice areas. Around 7-months after I started, I knew that a vacancy would be coming up in the Clinical Negligence team. I informally applied and contacted the team leader and then went through a formal interview process. I stayed in the Clinical Negligence team until I started my Training Contract- for around 7-months. In that time, I assisted on complex claims and high value clinical negligence claims including a trial in the High Court.

I know that something which has helped my progress is being entirely honest and genuine when I have applied and interviewed for roles. It’s safe to say that employers are looking just as much (if not more) for someone who fits their culture and will integrate, develop and grow with them- not just academic scores. I wasn’t afraid to give silly answers to questions like ‘What would I dress up as in a fancy dress party?’. When I found out I had got an interview for my Training Contract, I made the effort to approach some of the firm’s team on LinkedIn and ask for advice, and their thoughts and opinion on the work and firm. I know this helped me at interview and helped me decide the firm was right for me. I would say that my number one piece of advice is to get stuck in, and put yourself out there, and not be afraid of making the effort to get experience and roles you want and are passionate about.

I now work at Crawford Legal Services UK, which is part of a much larger global company, Crawford & Company. I will remain here for the duration of my training contract working in practice area’s centered around insurance. I currently sit in Fraud and Motor Defence but will move into Professional Indemnity, Subsidence, Recoveries, Travel & Casualty.

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