Lots to Learn at Legal Services Careers Day
Friday, 27 February 2015
Boys’ and Girls’ Division pupils in Year 11 and the Sixth Form with an interest in a career in law had the opportunity to learn more through a special themed careers day. The event was designed to give students an insight into what to expect from a future in legal services and paths they could take to obtain the necessary qualifications.
Old Girl Helen Pantelides opened the Legal Services Information Day with a keynote speech in which she talked about her own career so far. After attending Bolton School from 1998 to 2005, she went on to study law at the University of Sheffield. She then took a year long Legal Practice Course (LPC) at Chester College of Law (now the University of Law, Chester). After obtaining her LPC qualification, she became a Paralegal at Keoghs LLP before gaining a trainee solicitor post with Shoosmiths LLP. On qualification in 2013, she became an Associate at Taylor Wessing LLP, a full-service international law firm with such high-profile clients as Amazon and Google.
She also talked about why she chose a career in law. In part, it was thanks to work experience placements undertaken while she was still at Bolton School at high street law firms, and also because of a paid placement in one of the magic circle law firms. She explained that these experiences were really useful not just because they allowed her to see what legal practice is really like, but also because it gave her a feel for what type of company she wanted to work for after qualifying. She also talked about the pros and cons of the legal profession, and of the different types of company that exist within it, which gave the audience plenty to consider.
Helen’s keynote speech gave pupils a great insight into the level of dedication needed to become a solicitor or barrister, as well as the length of time it is likely to take. She was also able to shed light on the skills needed to do well in this field, and offered valuable advice on obtaining and developing these talents.
The second speaker for the day was James Mannouch, who is a lecturer at the University of Law. He talked about how to become a lawyer, but also ensured that the session was engaging and interactive. He split the audience into two groups and asked half of them to argue that Jaffa Cakes are cakes, and the other half to argue that they are biscuits. Although they are technically cakes, the biscuit side of the room had the better argument and therefore won! This showed the importance of making a good argument in the legal profession.
Mr Mannouch also led a workshop session about criminal case law. This was run much like a university seminar, and showed them how to work through a case as they would in reality. He used a well-known case study to illustrate how the legal profession deals with a criminal case, and during the session the group worked through four stages: analysis, interview, witness evidence, and cross-examination.
The case used in this instance was the death of Reeva Steenkamp at the hands of Oscar Pistorius, looking only a murder charge and using English law. The pupils were asked to imagine that they were working on the defence – a particularly interesting stance to take, since the vast majority of them considered Pistorius to be guilty!
The workshop was very interactive and pupils took part in a number of exercises, including establishing material evidence and holding mock interviews where they split into pairs and pretended to be Pistorius and his solicitor discussing the event of the night of the death.
In the afternoon, Chris Hoskin talked to pupils about alternative routes into law. Mr Hoskin is a Chartered Legal Executive and the Development Officer at The Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx). He began the talk by giving a little background to his own career as well as explaining that Chartered Legal Executives often work with solicitors and specialise in one specific area of the law. However, they are not trained at university, but rather vocationally and professionally.
He went on to briefly outline the university route and the various issues someone who wanted to train in law might have with this, such as the cost, the long time it would take to become fully qualified, and the fact that at every stage there are many more applicants than places, making it intensely competitive.
He then discussed various alternative routes. These included qualifying as a solicitor with CILEx, which involves academic study while gaining professional experience, takes only four years, and is often paid at least in part by an employer; legal apprenticeships, which can be government funded and lead into the CILEx qualification; and also advocacy. Mr Hoskin gave the pupils a great insight into alternative and potentially attractive options that they might not have considered before, and this popular talk was therefore really useful for those who attended.
The final talk of the day was given by Dr Nicolas Kang-Riou, one of the lecturers at the University of Salford’s College of Business and Law. He spoke about what studying law at university will actually involve on a practical level, and how the ‘traditional’ route into law has changed in recent times. For example, he explained that only a minority of students who study law at undergraduate level go on to become qualified by completing their LPC or BPTC. He therefore explained that universities have had to re-think how they teach law at this level and therefore courses may include a more diverse range of options on top of the basics of law that are required as a foundation of the law degree.
This was a fascinating talk which allowed pupils to find out more about what they would study at university level. It also gave them a chance to consider the other possibilities a law degree might open up beyond the legal profession, as well as within it.
The Legal Services Information Day gave the Year 11 and Sixth Form students a lot of detailed and interesting information to consider, and has been a valuable experience for those considering a future in the legal profession.