Hey Law Students - Opportunity abounds if you build great skills.
Pick up any legal publication or read any blog post on the future of law and it generally scares the hell out of you. It's all doom and gloom about jobs disappearing, robots taking over, and graduates being left in the cold.
There is certainly considerable stress and anxiety around law schools about just how people are going to find practical work experience and graduate work when everything is pointing towards less jobs (but more graduates!) While it's true there are ever growing numbers of students, frankly it's time to call out the lie that there are less opportunities.
The problem is not that there are less jobs.
The real problem is that the profession and the law schools have been terrible at helping graduates understand what opportunities actually exist outside the traditional framework. Obviously, with more and more students being pumped out of law schools there is no way the traditional model can keep up. However, law students are still well placed to take their careers in other directions both in and outside the law and new platforms like LawLancer are critical to build the skills students need.
This is just as relevant for getting practical work during your studies as it is securing a graduate role. It makes sense too... go to any job fair and who is there? The big law firms... or the odd government department... and that's it. So you rock up, you see all these big firms, you see 2,000 people in the room, and you do the math. And that is scary math. Or so it seems.
It may surprise you, but that math is completely wrong. There are a myriad of other options for you, they just don't happen to have the budget for stress balls and VR stalls.
As much as you pay a fortune for your degree, there's generally only one or two people within your law school helping you find opportunities. And for every one of them, there's 30 graduate recruiters from big law firms. So it makes sense that the only options you get to see are those with the budget to be on show.
The good news, is if you look a bit harder, there are a raft of opportunities in and outside law for graduates. The better news is that with platforms like LawLancer and the growth in NewLaw models graduates of the future will have more, not less, options to both gain experience and long term work.
Start to ask the right questions.
The first step to thinking about what you can do outside of the norm is to understand what you want. Why is it that you have only been looking at certain types of firms? Why are you doing law in the first place? What do you want to actually do with your career?
As a student these are tough but necessary questions! No one can answer them for you, but you better have an answer before you start making decisions.
Thinking about the direction you take based on what you want, not what your mum or dad may want, is critical.
Maybe the mid tier firm that isn't as flash, but has great people and can actually make you partner in a decade is the right move;
Maybe it's the boutique that is lead by an awesome ex top tier partner who will train you up and give you lots of hands on experience;
Or maybe it's something completely outside of the law where you can use your problem solving and analytical skills while combining it with another interest.
As a law grad you've learned how to work hard, find solutions, and work around problems. These are very useful skills for all graduates.
If you don't know where you want to go, you'll just end up where everyone else does... and guess what? That is primarily why people leave the law a few years down the track. It's rarely because they couldn't be good lawyers. It's generally because they made a decision to chase something for the wrong reasons. Once you work out where you really want to go you can start to explore options that are a better fit for you.
Look to build your skills and experience first.
One of the biggest issues all young professionals have is a lack of patience. It's natural. Five years feels a long time when you're 25. When you're 45, not so much. If there is anything that is more important than being patient and investing in developing your skills then we don't know what it is.
The good news is that you can start right now, building your skills, building your patience and investing in yourself. LawLancer will be one answer to any law student looking to start their journey. When we launch in early 2019 you'll be able to sign up and get research work that you can do from home. You'll be able to do it on your time while building your skills and getting valuable experience. We'll have lots of online training and support, plus you get feedback from prospective employers.
Beyond what we do though, the ideal way forward early on as a student is to find some part time work in a firm of any size. The best way to get a foot in the door? Apply to lots, go to as many legal industry social events as you can, and build relationships. Can't find anything in law? Do something in any other professional environment. Accounting practice, bank, financial services firm... it really doesn't matter. What matters is getting the skills to be a competent professional, learning to self manage and take responsibility.
Don't be afraid to think differently.
Whatever direction you take, know that it rarely pays to do the same thing everyone else does. The future of law is a flexible, vibrant one filled with people that have a broad range of skills. If you can invest in creating skills that are valuable, and get the chance to experience different work places, you'll be well placed to do well in whatever direction you choose.
We're empowering graduates to get more diverse experience.
Let's face it, even if you change your approach you still need real options that can give you the experience you will need. That's where we come in! LawLancer will be a place where you can work for a variety of different legal services businesses on their research needs. Want to get exposure to a different area of law? Nothing beats getting a variety of experience to open up your mind to opportunity, and that is exactly what LawLancer will give you.
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