A cure for tunnel vision? How to choose a career that’s right for you…

Last month the City Careers Service hosted a panel discussion entitled ‘Careers with a law degree’, which had a distinctly different message from your average careers presentation. We weren’t hearing from a senior judge, QC or a partner in a law firm and we didn’t get precise directions to these distant heights.

Instead each of the panel gave us an honest account of their various and sometimes winding journeys through the law. We heard not only why their career was fulfilling, but why they found other careers less fulfilling and how they made informed choices to find the career that was best for them.

Tunnel vision? Sometimes you need to deviate a little…

Their advice? Think honestly about what you want from your career and choose a career that suits you. And don’t worry if your first choice doesn’t work out because a law degree can take you places you hadn’t even imagined!

Gena Parrott told us why she loved her job in-house at Warner Bros and was keen to advertise their new training contract to all City law students. But she also told us of her reservations when she first took a training contract at a City solicitors’ firm, that maybe a City firm wasn’t for her. After seven years of practice she took a year out to volunteer in Africa and then got her job with Warner Bros. Her degree and experience carried her into her ideal job, but even more important was her determination to choose a career that suited her.

Michael Lightowler only decided to change his career late in life and worked as a solicitor until he was forty. By chance he discovered a career opportunity that perfectly fitted his career goals: qualifying as a Notary. A notary authenticates documents and identities amongst other functions in many different jurisdictions and requires additional qualifications. Michael finds his job very fulfilling and enjoys the good work life balance that comes with it.

Caroline Sibanda always enjoyed law and company governance, but she worked in marketing for a few years after her law degree before she fully realized what she wanted to do. She has nearly fully qualified as a company secretary, which ideally blends her interests in law and company governance and requires additional qualifications.

Robert Dudley trained as a solicitor, but even after qualification was unsure whether he really wanted to be a solicitor. He decided to work in legal education and worked for the College of Law for ten years before moving to BARBRI, where he advises UK students who want to take the US bar and vice versa. He finds advising and teaching people fulfilling and enjoys the international travel that goes with the job.

Alexis Cooke completed a law degree but was also passionate about politics. After a policy degree, another law degree and stints at the European Commission, she finally decided on a career that matched her interests: the Government Legal Service. The service provides legal support within government on a huge range of issues from advising ministers how to carry out a policy to drafting new legislation. The challenging and varied blend of political and legal work suits her perfectly.

Author Red Strivens

Chris Johnson from PwC advised everyone to research what technology legal firms use as an easy way to score points at interviews, while Lilian Adebayo of the Graduate Group reminded us of the importance of getting varied experience, whatever career you choose to pusue.

Big thanks to Red Strivens, current GDL student at the City Law School, for reporting back on this excellent panel event – hope this gives you some inspiration for careers a bit off the beaten track!

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