Starting a legal career from A non-law background

We caught up with Rosanna and found out how she went from a Business Administration degree to become a Trainee Solicitor at Slaughter and May.

Could you tell me a bit about your degree background and how you came to work for Slaughter and May?

Studying Economics at A level as well as working for Accenture as an analyst on the Horizon Scheme ignited a keen interest in business. As a result, I applied to study Business Administration (Bsc) at Bath University. At the time of applying, Bath was one of the top universities to study business at, as well as offering two six-month placements as part of the degree, which particularly appealed to me. I was able to elect law as one of my modules across the four years, which I really enjoyed.  

In addition, I worked at Olswang in the Executive Team as one of my 6 month placements. Taking law modules at university as well as working in the business team at a law firm provided me with the impetus to apply for a training contract at Slaughter and May after graduating from Bath.

How did you demonstrate in the application process that the skills you gained through your non-law degree made you an ideal candidate for Slaughter and May?

I focused on the commercial and business skills I developed throughout my degree whilst studying accounting, finance, marketing, sales, international business and law, along with numerous other facets of business. In addition, I drew upon my previous work experience at Accenture, Danone and Olswang to illustrate my commercial acumen and suitability for a client-facing role.

What can a lawyer with a non-law degree background uniquely bring to the firm?

So far, I have not felt at any disadvantage to my contemporaries who studied law at university. If anything, I feel that my business and commercial knowledge gained from my degree and placements has placed me at an advantage. Being a lawyer is not simply about your knowledge of the law, it requires a commercial awareness of business and particular sectors as well as an ability to develop a rapport with clients and colleagues.

Part of developing this rapport is being able to illustrate an interest in topics outside of law. Studying a subject other than law allows you to develop specific and unique interests which you can use and develop once you train and qualify as a lawyer.

What would you say to students concerned about going into law from a non-law background?

I had a fantastic time at university, I loved my course and the subjects I studied. The GDL provided sufficient knowledge for the LPC and I have never felt that I am at any disadvantage to those who studied a degree in law.

My advice to those already studying a non-law subject is not to be concerned about how it will affect your ability to pursue a career in law. To those deciding what to study at university, I would suggest just studying something you enjoy. 

Why should they choose Slaughter and May?

Slaughter and May has an outstanding reputation not only for the service it provides to the clients, but also for the first class training it offers individuals at all levels of the business. Whilst I have felt challenged and stretched throughout the first six months of my training contract, I have always felt that I have a support network of colleagues, advisors and friends to which I can draw upon for support. The atmosphere at the firm is very collegiate.

One of Slaughter and May’s distinguishing offerings is the ‘multi specialist approach’. Whilst this means you rarely work on the same type of work twice (especially on your training contract), you are exposed to a wide array of interesting and challenging clients and matters. This adds to your experience, ensuring you are never bored and always learning about a new area of law, as well as new clients and business sectors.

Finally, I have found everyone I have worked with at Slaughter and May to be friendly and interesting. Slaughter and May hires people from a wide variety of backgrounds both law and non-law.

I would therefore strongly recommend Slaughter and May to those considering a career in law. 

Find out more about Slaughter and May through the firm's inside view videos, here. If you'd like to check out the firm's current opportunities visit their profile page here.