Alumni Spotlights: top tips from a newly qualified solicitor
9th August 2021
Many law students see qualifying as a solicitor as their main aim upon graduating and it is well known how competitive training contracts are. Victoria Ounsworth, who graduated from UoG in 2017, qualified as a solicitor in July 2021 and has taken the time to tell us about how she balanced her post-graduate studies with her working commitments which were formative in her ability to secure the training contract.
“I graduated from UoG in 2017 after doing the three year LLB course. Shortly after leaving UoG, I got a part-time admin role with my local police force. Prior to this, I had applied for almost every paralegal, legal assistant or secretary roles I could find and I was unsuccessful in all of these applications, why? because I had no prior admin experience, so although this role was not directly “legal” I knew it was key in allowing me to gain the transferable skills I needed to move forward.
Alongside my role, I was studying for the LPC LLM part-time. I underestimated how difficult it would be studying alongside working almost full time hours but it was also incredibly rewarding and demonstrated that I could juggle this responsibility. I was lucky enough to be offered a secondment role to the Legal Services department within the Police as a legal assistant. An opportunity which I took gladly! In this role, I assisted in employment matters, litigation matters and police law matters (IE, inquests and providing general advice to officers on PACE procedures or practical matters). This was an incredible opportunity and I got to experience and be involved in things I never would in private practice. As a civil servant you have more responsibility and attend court more frequently, for example I attended on several occasions to support Domestic Violence applications and other such similar applications. I also got to do plenty of site visits and meet the police puppy recruits, a particular highlight for me!
After two years with the police I secured a training contract at a local commercial law firm (after many unsuccessful applications elsewhere). Training at a smaller firm suited me to a tee, my training was very hands on and this gave me the opportunity to learn a lot in a short space of time, those two years fly by! I qualified as a solicitor in July of this year and remain with my current firm where I work in the Employment and Corporate department“.
Speaking of her experiences and what she has learnt since graduating, Victoria said:
I have learnt so many things on my road to qualification, but the most important thing is to never give up. I know how disheartening it can be to have constant rejection after spending what feels like a lifetime doing applications. Learn from each rejection and ask for feedback and advice where you feel you need it.
No opportunity is a bad one. Just because it is not law related does not mean that you can’t gain valuable transferable skills. I would also encourage people to apply to firms that at first glance you don’t think would suit you. Application processes for large firms are a long process and just because a firm is a lot smaller does not mean the training you receive will be any different. You may be surprised! I would also encourage anyone to explore legal opportunities in the public sector as well as private, it is invaluable experience which is highly regarded by most employers.
Put the hard work in early, it will pay off in the future.”