“AT SCHOOL, ALL I THOUGHT ABOUT WAS BEING A MUSICIAN”
No idea what job you want to do? Don’t panic! Lots of successful people didn’t start their career properly until they were quite a bit older – and the jobs they had before then proved to be surprisingly handy experience. We met John Inglese, 34, who started out as a music teacher, before moving into sales… before becoming a trainee solicitor at top law firm Eversheds.
Tell us about your job as a trainee solicitor...
“I work for Eversheds as a trainee solicitor in the London corporate team and play a supporting role on ‘mergers and acquisitions’ (M&A) – a general term used to describe the consolidation of companies. My work involves a mix of administration duties - the official form-filling that’s necessary when businesses change status - and solving legal problems, mainly through negotiation. A typical day may start at 9am and finish at 7pm, but if there’s a big deadline to meet we might work later.”
“There’s a real team spirit in the department and because we work together, we often share success as teams rather than as individuals. I feel completely at home here already and love working with like-minded people.”
Did you always want to do law?
“Not at all – all I thought about was being a musician when I was at school! I spent lots of time playing instruments – and a lot less time than I should have done on other subjects. I went on to study classical music at Bristol and then did a teacher training certificate and became a music teacher. But while teaching music I found it too hard to find time and energy to do my own music so I moved into an entry–level role working for a well-known newspaper. I worked hard at the newspaper and was promoted a number of times, eventually managing a division in the advertising and sales department. I eventually wanted a new challenge, to try something that was mentally very demanding where I’d have the opportunity to keep developing skills as my career progressed.”
Why did you pick law?
“As well as thinking long and hard about my goals and what I wanted from my career, I took some personality tests and had some career guidance sessions. Eventually I realised I was very well suited to law.”
What happened next?
“I completed a year-long Graduate Diploma in Law – what’s known as a ‘law conversion’ – at the College of Law in London. (now called the University of Law). I then did a year-long Legal Practice Certificate (LPC) at BPP Law School, also in London.
“I studied both courses full-time, while working part-time for my old employer – it was a very work-intensive period! I was completely new to law so it was a real challenge for me to get to grips with the basics, but by the end of the course I gained a really high score.”
[plotr Tip! All graduates who don’t have a law degree must do the Graduate Diploma in Law followed by the Legal Practice Certificate before going on to study as a trainee solicitor.]
“My main challenge was a financial one. Before I began studying law I had already saved up a good amount of money, but I still needed to change my lifestyle – I had to get used to living on a lot less. Fortunately Eversheds sponsored me to do the LPC and gave me a ‘maintenance grant’.”
[plotr Tip! Once you’ve completed your law degree or Graduate Diploma in Law, some firms like Eversheds will sponsor you to do your LPC, provided you go on to do your training contract with their firm.]
How did you get Eversheds to sponsor you?
“I applied for a few training contracts before I started my Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) but didn’t have much success. Looking back, that’s probably because I had no experience and no legal qualifications. It’s a very competitive market, but I applied again midway through my GDL and found that once I had some exam results to talk about, and some actual legal experience, I was successful.”
Words of wisdom?
“As a candidate you must prepare yourself for rejection – sorry, but it’s true! If you’re not called for an interview it’s not necessarily because you’ve done something ‘wrong’ – just that someone else did something more ‘right’! Stay positive and keep trying elsewhere.
“Also, be honest with yourself as to why you want to be a solicitor – they’ll always ask you this in interviews and you need a good answer. Finally, it may sound obvious, but study hard and get great grades – and get as much legal experience as you can.”
“Use your network. As your career gets started, make sure you keep in touch with the people you meet who work in law, so you can ask them for personal recommendations, advice and insight. These three things can really help you get to where you want to go in future.”