Updated: Feb 11, 2022
I knew from quite a young age that a career in law could be possibility for me as my dad was and, still is, a Solicitor in my home town of Lisnaskea, Co Fermanagh. I always had an interest in family law and in particular working in the area of Child Protection law. So I knew if I wanted to specialise in this area that it was likely I would need to move away from home and, what better place to choose than Liverpool!
Travelling to England for University is common for many young people in Northern Ireland. I was excited to try something new and exciting and I was ready to take a big step and move away from home. With Northern Ireland less than an hour flight away from Liverpool, moving to another country didn’t seem as daunting. Luckily two of my closest friends decided to take a place at the University of Liverpool so it felt reassuring to have each other in the same city.
At school, I definitely would not say I was a ‘top student’ and I was more interested in creative subjects such as Art & Design. Deciding to embark on a law degree is always going to be an unnerving experience for anyone, no matter if you are an A* student or not, and so I was prepared for a challenging course. The first year of University was definitely an eye opener and it was difficult managing attending lectures, seminars and keeping up with coursework, in addition to making the most of the social side of my first year at University! However, I thoroughly enjoyed my time at LJMU and I was very fortunate to graduate with a First Class Law Degree with Honours in 2013.
At the end of my studies at LJMU, I was not convinced a career as a Solicitor was right for me and so I decided to take a year out before deciding whether I wanted to take the Legal Practice Course.
During this year out, I lived and worked back home in Co Fermanagh. I soon realised that I wanted to go back to Liverpool and that I should not waste the degree I had worked so hard for. Deciding to undertake the LPC at LJMU was an easy decision. I knew LJMU was a well-respected course provider for the LPC and I had enjoyed my time at LJMU so much before
The LPC was definitely a very intense course and I decided to take it full time. During the LPC, I volunteered at LJMU’s newly set up Legal Advice Centre. This was a great opportunity to learn about running cases from start to finish and to gain experience of interviewing clients. The Legal Advice Centre focused primarily on offering free advice on family and employment cases. I was able to sit in on client appointments with a volunteer Solicitor who would guide us in the right direction regarding each case, so we could prepare a letter of advice to the client.
For the second half of the LPC I only needed to attend for one day a week and so this gave me the opportunity to secure a legal position in a firm. With little legal experience to add to my CV, I knew this would be a difficult task. I also did not limit myself to vacancies only relating to family law.
Fortunately, I secured a position as a legal clerk in a Family Law firm in Liverpool City Centre. At this same firm, I secured a training contract and qualified as a solicitor. I will be forever grateful for the opportunity I was given as an inexperienced LPC student simply wanting to start a career in family law.
I would say to any one starting out now with aspirations to be a Solicitor that any experience gained is good experience. So go for those job interviews that you think you will never get, as the experience of the job interview itself will help you next time. I would also recommend volunteer work such as volunteering at a law clinic or a Support Through Court scheme (previously the PSU) as this will help you decide what area of law you wish to practice in. It will also increase your confidence when one day you will be working on real life cases.