Thank you to Alexander Millward and Harry Smith of regional law firm Thomson, Snell and Passmore for their virtual careers in law assembly for post 16 law students at Wilmington Academy last week.
Alex began by explaining that both he and Harry currently work in employment law but have come to where they are via different routes. In his case, Alex studied law at university and went on to study the Legal Practice Course (LPC), before working as a paralegal and completing further study to become a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx). The role that he fulfils is similar to that of a solicitor with a typical working day being varied and made up of working with clients, account management and tribunals. In more detail, that work includes employment contracts, staff handbooks and dealing with disciplinary and grievance procedures; in effect, doing the very best for the client.
When speaking about top tips for students, Alex recommended that they invest in themselves and stressed the importance of hard work and mental health wellbeing. He commented that study is vital and that if students wish to pursue a career in law that they should explore the many areas that this can cover. It is important that would-be lawyers can demonstrate a keen interest in subject areas.
Moving on, Harry then explained that like Alex, he had also studied law at university and is currently on what is known as a Training Contract with Thomson, Snell and Passmore. After leaving university, he took on work experience at a mental health law firm which he found not only interesting but also fulfilling. Within the training contract, he is having the opportunity to experience different areas of the company by spending six months in each department.
Harry’s tips for students included, like Alex, an emphasis upon the importance of investing in oneself. He also advised students looking to gain work experience within a legal role to explore which businesses they could work for and to understand the differences between, for example a high street firm and large London or regional law firm. He further stressed the importance of forward planning explaining that the training contract route needs to be applied for two years in advance. Additionally, it will be beneficial for students to demonstrate suitable work experience or similar interest prior to application.
Alex and Harry kindly answered a number of questions:
- The importance of work experience had been stressed; with virtual work experience looking to be the only option, and possibly hard to find, what do you consider would add currency for a student looking to work in the legal arena? The answer here was to research companies and check their websites and social media for relevant opportunities when advertised. It might very well be worth students picking up a phone and showing themselves to be proactive by directly contacting firms once they have done their background research.
- Alex and Harry were asked about the downsides of their jobs. Alex explained that their jobs are busy which can be stressful. However, he further explained that he was given a challenge as a student in regards to a particular area of employment law known as TUPE being told that he would never understand the concept and how he then went on to excel in that field. Again, he stressed the importance of self-reliance and recognising that some stress can be a positive thing. Harry commented that it is natural for anyone to prefer some aspects of a role over others and that in his case, the change of moving between departments could be a challenge; something that the teams at Thomson, Snell and Passmore had mitigated by being so welcoming.
- Alex and Harry were asked why they chose to study law at university. In both cases, they had studied and enjoyed law at A Level. It was commented that although both Alex and Harry had gone onto work within the legal sector, many of those that they had studied law with at university had not; law is seen as a good degree to have and can open doors elsewhere. Similarly, Alex commented that university is not the right option for everyone and that there are other routes into a legal career including the CILEx route and apprenticeships. Equally, there are a number of other non-lawyer roles within the sector.
Sincere thanks to Alex and Harry for taking the time to share their wisdom with our students.