09:44, June 01 244 0 theguardian.com

2017-06-01 09:44:02
Five ways to build a reputation in law

Top grades aren’t enough to get a job in the cut-throat world of law. According to the Solicitors Regulation Authority, the number of new law students outweighs the number of traineeships available by about three to one. This won’t come as a surprise to most legal students – the profession has always been competitive. But it does underline how important it is to do everything in your power to boost your chances of securing a training contract. Here are the best ways to get your name out there and make sure you are the person recruiters are thinking about for their next trainee contract.

Manage your online presence

Rightly or wrongly, recruiters will judge you on what they see of you online. So it’s worth making your Google search more impressive. Putting your name to articles online can showcase your insight and written style, for example. Sharing and commenting on articles in the legal press shows you are engaged and informed, while an active LinkedIn profile shows you’re fully engaged with your subject. Recruiters will base some of their interview questions on what they have learned about you online – give them a positive image to work with.

Connect with law firms on campus

If you are part of your university’s law society, use it to invite law firms to speak at events, or arrange a trip to their offices. Larger firms employ student ambassadors to promote their brand on campus. Not only do you get paid, but you also get access to the firm, invitations to networking events and, in some cases, a fast-track through the recruitment process. “Being a brand ambassador allowed me to enter the application process with a unique understanding of the firm and helped to give me that competitive edge,” says Claire Newman, a trainee solicitor at an international city law firm.

Make friends – not just contacts

The more people you have on your contacts list, the more opportunities are likely to come your way. Not everybody can help you immediately, and some people won’t be able to help at all. The right attitude is to get to know people as people first; because you want to, rather than because you have to. Chris Benn, solicitor at Kemp Little, says: “People come and go, but impressions last. Be switched on and engage with those around you as you never know when your paths may cross again.”

Play the long game

By all means meet lawyers for “networking” coffees, but don’t underestimate the importance of bonding with and building a strong reputation among your fellow students. Yes, law is a supremely competitive profession, but think of the long game: you are in a class full of aspiring lawyers. Once you graduate, you’ll be climbing the ladder together. These people are potential future colleagues, clients and even bosses, so make an effort to keep in touch after university. The legal profession is a small world. You will be surprised how often your counterpart at another firm is somebody you trained with.

Join third-party organisations

Get involved with networks and employability schemes. Not only do these organisations offer careers advice and insight, but they can also be great channels through which to promote your reputation. Be somebody they can recommend. Get on their radar for events and job opportunities. You can use their platforms to blog, vlog and promote your CV. Coleen Mensa, a trainee solicitor in the city says: “My vlogs [for LawCareers.Net] were a frequent topic in my training contract interviews and helped me stand out. I’d encourage everyone to embrace online platforms.”

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Coleen Mensa’s vlog ‘The legal diaries’.

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