Editor’s weekly: Early bird catches the worm

Working in London’s West End means there’s no escaping the fact that Christmas is now less than a month away. It seems no matter which way I turn Crimbo is staring right back at me, mostly in the form of shoppers who make the annual pilgrimage to Oxford Street.

I really admire these people because I’m never that organised and always leave my Christmas shopping until the last minute. During the boom times this may have proven to be advantageous as you’re likely to pick up some last minute bargains but thanks to the recession nothing seems to be gained by waiting as most shops are permanently on sale.

So what has Christmas shopping got to do with training as a lawyer? The honest answer is nothing. But I couldn’t think of any other way of sexing up application forms. That said there’s a serious lesson to be learnt from the early birds.

As one graduate recruitment manager pointed out to me recently it’s really important to get your application forms for vacation placements in early because most recruiters won’t wait until the closing date before inviting students to interviews. So if you haven’t already started then you’d better get your act together because firms have already started accepting applications.

Though it’s important to get your vacation application forms in nice and early don’t be tempted to cut corners. Competition for places is likely to be firece as some firms have scaled back their programmes as a result of the economic downturn.

Meanwhile, if you’re in the final year of your degree you’ll need to start thinking about applying for the LPC. You need to do this through the Central Applications Board (www.lawcabs.ac.uk) even if your place is being sponsored by your future employer. The deadline is 1 December 2009 if you want your application to be considered in the initial stage. Applications received after this date will only be looked at by LPC providers who still have places to fill. And don’t forget that your academic reference also needs to be received by CAB by the same date.

But before you rush to complete your LPC application form it’s worth asking yourself whether you should embark on the year-long vocational course in the absence of sponsorship and/or a training contract. There’s no right or wrong answer to this question but my view is that if you can afford the astronomical fees then it’s probably worth funding the LPC yourself because it’s not uncommon for students to pick up training contracts while on the course. If you’re still without a job at the end of the LPC completing the course might help you secure a paralegal position, which will give you some valuable work experience and your finances a much needed boost. And you never know one thing might lead to another and you might even secure that elusive training contract.

But whatever you decide to do it’s important to manage your expectations. That’s what I try to do at Christmas. That way I won’t be disappointed when I open my boyfriend’s presents.


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