College of Law LPC student Emma Horn warns that when the training contract deadline is approaching, “quality not quantity” is an adage often forgotten.
Name: Emma Horn
Degree: Modern History and Politics and LLB (GDL + LPC)
University: Oxford University
Law School: College of Law, Bloomsbury
A Levels: History, Politics, French
Hobbies: Playing sport, especially netball
Why do you want to become a solicitor and what area do you hope to specialise in eventually?I want a job which provides an intellectual challenge but which also places a premium on communication skills. I like working alongside people in a team-based environment and I think I would find it rewarding to build longstanding relationships with clients. I have always had an interest in family law and am looking forward to experiencing a seat in that department. However I am still very open-minded and am happy to wait and see what happens in my training before making any long term career decisions.
What are your career plans – do you have a training contract lined up?I was lucky to secure a training contract with Withers LLP after finishing the GDL last year. My training contract starts in September 2013 and so this year I am working in the Business Development team at the College of Law. I am hoping the job will help to develop my commercial experience and at the same time I can keep up-to-date with what is going on in the legal sector.
How are you funding the LPC and how have you found managing your finances?My firm is generously sponsoring me through the LPC and in addition to the course fees I receive a monthly allowance from them. Since I moved back into my family home to complete the LPC, I use this mainly to cover the travel costs of commuting into London.
What is the LPC like and how does it compare to your degree?My degree and the GDL both had a heavy workload and so in comparison I did not find the LPC too demanding. The main difference I had to adjust to was the high number of face-to-face tuition hours at law school which contrasts to university, where I was largely free to manage my own studies.
What is the social life like on the LPC?I have found that people need to be more focused and hardworking at law school than at university. People are preparing for four classes a week as well as fitting in applications and trying to build up their legal CVs. Having said that, there is still plenty of time for socialising and Bloomsbury is a nice area, with lots of pubs, cafes and restaurants. Being part of the netball team is a good way of meeting people from across the different courses and also means I can play weekly competitive sport.
What pitfalls did you encounter when trying to secure a training contract?At university I made the mistake of sending off generic applications which were not sufficiently researched or tailored. It was only when I came to law school that I realised the vast number of applications each firm receives and therefore how important it is to ensure your application stands out from the crowd. ‘Quality not quantity’ is an over-used phrase, but when the training contract deadline is approaching it is one which a lot of people tend to forget! With hindsight it is definitely a good idea to bear the training contract deadlines in mind at the start of the academic year and to try and send them off early rather than in July. Also thoroughly research the firm using a variety of different sources- not just its website – and incorporate your findings into the application. Finally, make sure you have left time to proof read the application before it is sent off.
What tips would you offer someone who is thinking about pursuing a career in law? I think it is really important for anyone seeking to pursue a career in the legal profession to do their research before embarking down this route. The legal market is a highly competitive one and you might find yourself having to fund either one or two years of post-graduate study with no guarantee of a job at the end of it. It is therefore important to be realistic and to go in with your eyes open.
While consistently high academic achievement is important, firms also want you to demonstrate your commitment to law and so I recommend trying to get as much and as wide a variety of legal experience as possible onto your CV. Not only will this show your motivation, but it will also help you make informed decisions such as what area of law you are interested in and whether you want to work in a ‘magic circle’ or a high street firm. This again will help you to target your applications and have a genuine and well thought-out answer when an interviewer asks why you are applying to their particular practice.