Simon Wilson, Senior Solicitor at Neil Hudgell Solicitors, talks to us about getting started in Law.
What kind of training did you have?
Following my degree (LLB Hons Law) I completed my LPC the following academic year.
When I first set out I wanted to learn about criminal law. That changed to the extent that I never practiced criminal law; I started doing clinical negligence on qualifying and it fascinated me.
My advice is no to specialise too much at university; I thought I wanted to do one area and ended up doing another. I suggest trying to get different work placements, as this will give you an insight into the practicalities of different work types, and more of a feel for the type of law you could specialise in.
How can students and graduates stand out from the crowd?
Do something different; interests such as reading or going to the cinema are ten a penny. Do some community work, get some sports coaching badges, and something that makes you interesting to someone who sees at least 20 CVs a week. Work experience really helps; it shows you’re committed.
There are many applicants for every job so you need to show a real commitment and enthusiasm for the law.
Although, when I’m interviewing candidates the main thing is their personality. Yes, I need to know people have the knowledge, but I also need to know they’ll fit in with my team.
Any work you can do on interview skills and techniques is never wasted.
Do you think there’s a type of person suited to becoming a solicitor? What key skills do they need?
You need common sense as well as intelligence; and they’re really not the same thing! In my field of clinical negligence you need analytical skills and a dogged determination to get the best outcome for your client. Litigation lawyers are usually argumentative by nature.
What’s the most important piece of advice you can give a law student/graduate?
Be certain it’s what you want to do, then be determined to get to where you want. It is hard work and you need drive to succeed; do work experience; offer to do holiday work at no cost – it shows commitment. But the main thing is never give up; you’ll get knockbacks but it’s how you recover from those that really matters.