Want to be Sure You’re Right for the Law? BPP University Webinar
BPP University Law School held a webinar to help potential lawyers at all stages understand whether law is for them. The panel consisted of Jonny Hurst, head of faculty for the LPC in London, Clare Wardell, BPTC Programme Leader and Paul Dosanjh, GDL Lecturer.
The hour-long webinar cleared several myths surrounding what it takes to become a lawyer. This included in-depth advice on how to decide whether you should pursue a career as a solicitor or a barrister. Here are five key things to take away from the webinar:
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The panel got the ball running by decoding the skills that are vital for a career in law. Interpersonal skills are key in maintaining strong client relationships, but what is equally important is business acumen. As Paul noted, candidates are expected to understand the business they are going into and the relation between understanding clients’ needs and how law firms make a profit.
These skills do not always require a law degree. In fact, it was advised that you can and should do the degree you are most interested in. The skills STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) graduates can bring to the table was emphasised; strong analytical skills will be handy when advising clients or representing them in court.
Rather than becoming engrossed in whether you want to be a barrister or solicitor, the panel advised that you identify your strengths. This will help you to understand which profession aligns more with your strongest attributes. If you are new to the legal industry, understanding your skills set can help you to keep your options open without focusing on one practise area or profession.
The webinar shed light on the key differences between what solicitors and barristers do. Barristers obtain instructions from solicitors for their clients and then argue their case in court. They are are responsible for handling witnesses and will advise clients on cutting edge issues.
Whilst the barrister route has more opportunity for advocacy, solicitors meet clients more often. They are responsible for preparing a client’s case, negotiating on behalf of the client and conducting legal research. Solicitors also draft and review legal documents where needed.
Nonetheless, opportunities in the legal industry are not as black and white as becoming a barrister or a solicitor. For example, advocate solicitors represent clients in court much like barristers, but also prepare cases and are based in a firm. The roles of barristers and solicitors can also vary across practice areas. For example, barristers in civil law do not perform as much advocacy as they would in criminal law.
There is a whole range of wonderful ways you can practise as a barrister or solicitor. The panel explained that the more research and experience you undertake, the more areas of law you will come across, such as phone hacking or political risk.
There is a vast range of courses you can enrol on with the BPP University, such as a GDL (Graduate Diploma in Law) and LLM combined course exclusive to London. The panel stressed that enrolling in a distance learning course will not put you at a disadvantage and that you should focus on how you learn best.
Funding these courses can be worrying, but there is support available with funding. For example, you can apply for a scholarship from Inns of court to cover a large portion of course fees. You can even study the LPC part time over two years to work whilst you study.
Overall, the webinar provided clear guidance on how to decide whether law is right for you. It also served as a gentle reminder of the sheer number of opportunities there are in the legal profession. Be on the lookout for more webinars on various practise areas you can get involved in!