Kick-starting a career in law from a non-law background

Author: Guy Preston
Created on 19th Dec 2017

 

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

I studied BSc Ecology at the Scarborough campus of the University of Hull. After graduation, I went to the Amazon rainforest to participate in voluntary conservation work and spent a couple of months travelling around America. I then returned to the UK, and started to have a serious think about the direction I wanted my career to take!

I had studied law at A-Level and always had an interest for the subject, so I started to look for opportunities where I would have the chance to learn more about what life as a lawyer would entail. With my Ecology background, I was particularly interested in environmental and energy law, and I was drawn to Pinsent Masons because of their reputation for natural resources and renewable energy work. I undertook a vacation scheme in the Leeds office in 2015, and was offered a training contract a few weeks later.

I started the Graduate Diploma in Law in September 2015 and the Legal Practice Course the following year, joining the firm as a trainee solicitor in September 2017.

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

Pinsent Masons prides itself on its client-focused approach to working: only by understanding the needs and pressures faced by our clients can we provide effective legal solutions. I had extensive work experience in a number of industries, including banking, retail, construction, IT and the charity sector, which gave me an insight into both the short- and long-term commercial pressures faced by clients: an essential attribute for a successful career as a lawyer, and the skills and commercial awareness I developed through these roles stood me in good stead throughout the application process.

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

The transferable skills developed over the course of any degree are invaluable to a career in law, including research skills, time-keeping, attention-to-detail and teamwork. Different degree courses will also provide unique skills and insights:

my degree course involved having to do a lot of presentations and quickly learn to use new computer programs—both of which were essential in my first few weeks at the firm!

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

I undertook my vacation scheme with Pinsent Masons before I had studied the Graduate Diploma in Law. As such, I was concerned that my lack of legal knowledge would hinder my chances at getting a training contract! However, I found the recruitment process to be very understanding of the stage I was at, and on the vacation scheme I was exposed to exciting and interesting work, albeit with more of a commercial element than a legal one.

When I started the Graduate Diploma in Law, I was impressed by the standard and depth of teaching. The course is comprehensive enough to put non-law students on an equal footing with students from a law background, and studying all key areas of law in such a short timeframe ensures your legal knowledge remains fresh in your mind as you begin the LPC.

In short, there is no reason to be concerned!

Why should these students choose to apply to Pinsent Masons?

On paper, I found most law firms difficult to tell apart: all had an impressive roster of clients, extensive lists of awards and claimed to have the friendliest work atmosphere!

I undertook vacation schemes at several firms, and Pinsent Masons really stood out to me: they were welcoming and supportive, yet provided their trainees with opportunities to play significant roles in exciting deals with household name clients. In my first few weeks at the firm, I have already had client exposure and been heavily involved in drafting, checking and researching ahead of a major corporate deal.

That being said, I have also enjoyed the work/life balance at the firm; we have regular trainee drinks and a busy social calendar, including rounders, beer pong and climbing.