One thing is for certain, there is no one set way into the legal industry! No matter which role you are interested in – Solicitor, Paralegal or Legal Secretary – there are multiple paths you can consider to reach your goal. Simply Law recently spoke with Beata Rebalska. Beata is a Risk and Compliance Assistant at Clyde & Co. She kindly shared her path to becoming a legal professional.
The legal industry
I have wanted to become a lawyer for as long as I can remember, and that’s why after finishing school, I decided to go to college to study law, business and finance.
I found the law modules fascinating so I decided to go to university to continue with my studies. However, I continued thinking to myself, what would it really be like working at a law firm? Would I enjoy it? What did I need to do to succeed?
I couldn’t have known any of these answers as this is not something a university can teach. I therefore knew I had to get some work experience.
Doing the research
I did my research and soon realised that I was able to gain legal work experience abroad. What better way for a student to gain relevant work experience than travelling at the same time! I was successful in securing a legal internship in Malta at an international firm.
What I now know is that this experience was invaluable for my career. Yes, I gained the work experience and discovered that I wanted to work for an international law firm in the future, but I also gained vital life skills. I returned home a new person – independent and confident.
Therefore, if you are considering doing your work experience abroad but you are worried about stepping out of your comfort zone, just remember, such roles are a fantastic way of demonstrating the competencies that employers are looking for, as well as showing them that you did more than just attend university.
Work experience is not the only thing you can do: in my final year of my undergraduate degree, I went to volunteer with children in South Africa. Although during my time in Africa I did not get any legal experience, I gained a lot of skills which I wouldn’t have gotten from sitting behind a desk, skills which are transferable to any legal job! Shortly after my return, I secured my first legal position.
Whilst studying for my LPC, I joined two legal clinics through my university. Everyone has a degree when applying for legal positions and law is extremely competitive, so it is vital to have something on your CV which will stand out from others’!
Employment after graduation
Since graduating with my undergrad degree, I have had several legal jobs. I think it’s important to remember that you are not expected to come out of university knowing exactly what area of law you want to go into. You do not have to have a training contract secured with your dream firm for when you graduate.
It’s okay to get experience in a few different areas of law before finding one area which you are truly passionate about! This time will not be wasted, as I can honestly say that each of my roles has provided me with invaluable experience and skills which I will have forever.
Furthermore, each law firm I have worked at has contributed to my realisation of what sort of firm I want to work at and what is important to me.
For example, prior to my most recent role with Jackson Lees Group, I did not know just how important culture and diversity was to me or how much I thrive whilst working in a relentlessly inclusive environment!
All of the above experience has helped me reach my goals and secure a role in an international law firm, Clyde & Co.