Paths into Law – Alumni Success Stories

On Monday morning, 5 alumni attended the Law Career Event to talk about their paths into law. Students at all stages of their degree attended the talk to learn about different progression routes and opportunities for when they graduate. We are really pleased that these professionals were able to give us some of their valuable time to hear about their great success stories.

Carris Peacey & Ryan Stewart – Harrison Clark Rickerbys

Carris Peacey graduated from the law degree in 2017 after being offered a training contract in her second year. After completing her degree, Carris completed the LPC before commencing on the training contract with HCR. Carris was offered the training contract after undertaking a 5 day vacation scheme with the firm and participating in a highly competitive application process, involving an interview, assessment day and & open afternoon. Carris is now enjoying the challenges of the training contract, currently working in wills, trusts & estates. Ryan Stewart, also UoG alumni, took a very different route into law – after completing a degree in the School of Sport and Exercise, he undertook a PGCE before deciding to move into legal work. Ryan is now commencing further study through ILEX and demonstrates the variety of ways possible to get into law.

Top Tip: make your application form personal to the firm you are applying to; sell the skills you have that the firm will want.

Lauren Ralston – Spirax Sarco

Lauren Ralson studied Law at UoG, graduating in 2017. Lauren then undertook a commercial graduate scheme with Renishaw and found her passion in engineering. Not wanting to leave this industry, but wishing to utilise her law degree, Lauren moved into a HR Associate role and then became a trainee legal executive lawyer. Lauren has since moved to Spirax Sarco, another leading local engineering firm and is working as a Contracts Assistant. Alongside these legally focused roles, Lauren balanced studying her LPC part time over two years. Lauren is now hoping to use her current work as qualifying employment through ILEX to quality as a chartered legal executive. Lauren’s progression since completing her degree has allowed her to work in an area of interest to her, and she enjoys learning and researching on the job in a variety of legal areas.

Top Tip: Find something you are interested in, and remember that the traditional route to law is not the only option!

Stuart Henry – MW Solicitors

Stuart was one of the first law students to graduate from UoG in 2007 and has since gone on to complete the Cilex fast-track diploma. Stuart is now a partner at MW Solicitors and is Head of Specialist Litigation and Insurance Law. As Stuart said, ‘I love arguing so litigation suits me!’  Stuart’s presentation focused on ‘8 things I wish I’d known earlier’ and emphasised that practising law is a constant learning experience and a person’s attitude is worth more than their aptitude. One student asked how to avoid getting burnout with competing deadlines and the strive towards perfection. Stuart’s advice – aim for excellence, not perfection, and take responsibility for a healthy work/life balance.

Top Tip: Stuart is involved in the recruitment process at his firm. When asked the one thing that makes people stand out, Stuart said it is their ‘everything that is not law’. What on your CV makes you stand out and would make him want to work with you?

Sarah Maxwell – Public Defender Service

Sarah undertook the fast-track degree and graduated in 2015. Prior to commencing the degree, Sarah qualified as an accredited police station representative which enabled her to advise and assist people who would otherwise have no legal representation. Sarah balanced her fast-track students alongside her representative role and also started mooting straight away – as she said, her first day at the magistrate’s court was so much easier thanks to doing that. After she finished her degree, Sarah commenced an LLM and was then offered a training contract. Sarah qualified as a solicitor in July this year and started her role at the public defender service 2 months ago. Sarah’s belief is that everyone has the right to be heard no matter what they have done; it is not our job to judge them.

Top Tip: if you want to qualify in crime, police station accreditation is essential!

Sam Morgan – Gateley Legal

Sam graduated in 2016 and was not always ‘sold’ on law as an industry. After spending some time overseas, Sam returned to the UK and started his current role as a paralegal at an international law firm. Sam works in dispute resolution in the construction department mainly working for claimants. Sam focused on the ‘paralegal cons’ and ‘paralegal perks’: as a con, Sam emphasised that paralegals are heavily relied upon because they do the work that allows the cases to proceed such as preparing bundles (can you imagine a 47-lever arch file bundle?!). The role is often fast paced and high pressured. However, in terms of the perks, you are respected and get good exposure to other professionals and clients. For those who are interested in going on to qualify, the role also demonstrates to recruiters that you have the practical and soft skills to make you a good lawyer. Sam has demonstrated this as he has secured a training contract to commence in 2021.

Top Tip: Getting work as a paralegal first is a great idea to get an idea of whether a legal career is what you really want. The average age of qualification is 29 and it is increasingly common for people to paralegal first; for this reason, there is a high turnover and lots of great opportunities.

Left to right: Sarah Maxwell, criminal defence solicitor; Stuart Henry, Partner & Head of Specialist Litigation at MW Solicitors; Lauren Ralston, Contracts Assistant at Spirax Sarco; Carris Peacey, trainee solicitor at HCR; Ryan Stewart, paralegal at HCR; Sam Morgan,  paralegal at Gateley plc (soon to be trainee!)

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