Not too late for law: one career changer’s story

Matthew Collison met the firm he will eventually train with through Lawyer 2B’s ’Not Too Late for Law’ event.

Following a decision a few years ago to alter my career as a commercial pilot and professional yachtsman in the superyacht and megayacht industry and move into life as a lawyer, I knew that I was entering into a highly competitive market.

I needed to do all I could to stand out from the crowd and demonstrate to law firms that I was a serious contender. But the first big hurdle to overcome was to decide which firms I should apply to. 

Collison
Matthew Collison

Having spent many hours reading through all of the directories and reports I could find, followed by browsing through what felt like hundreds of law firms’ websites, I concluded that the best way to actually discover what the firms were like was to go and speak with them directly. This eventually led me to the ‘Lawyer 2B Not too Late for Law’ event which – having previously toured a number of law fairs where I was often met by recruiters who were completely perplexed by the fact that I wasn’t straight from university – was a refreshing change to be able to chat with graduate recruitment representatives and current trainees from a variety of firms.

These firms were not only open to receiving applications from people who were considering a change of career, but also who could see the potential of what past commercial experience might bring to their firms, and ultimately how it could benefit their clients. This was where I met RPC.

At the RPC stand I was greeted with warm smiles. I felt that I could actually chat to the graduate recruitment team honestly and openly about my background, without the fear of a raised eyebrow or the thought that I should just make polite conversation and move on swiftly. I knew following this brief meeting, where I also gained an insight into the firm’s work and clients, that I wanted to apply to the firm’s vacation scheme to see whether my initial impression, that it was an innovative, successful and friendly firm, that promoted the recruitment of people who wanted a change of career, was a truthful reflection of the firm itself.

Shortly after attending the event, and determined that my applications would be successful, I found that BPP Law School and Lawyer 2B magazine were running a competition to write an article which, if published, would result in an all-expenses-paid LPC. The topic of the article was: ‘Can the City act ethically?’ Although this fell right in the middle of one of the busiest periods of my GDL studies, I managed to produce a piece of work that was worthy of getting through the rigorous selection process, and was subsequently chosen as the winning article to be printed in the summer 2012 edition of the magazine. Winning the competition was not only an incredible boost to my confidence, but more importantly I felt that it demonstrated how serious I was about my new career choice.

Following a summer packed with open days, vacation schemes and assessment days, which included a very enjoyable two weeks with RPC, I was fortunate enough to be offered a training contract with the firm which begins in September 2014. Until then, I am working in RPC’s risk and compliance department, and gaining an invaluable insight into my future life as a lawyer.

My colleagues and I will be attending the forthcoming Lawyer 2B Not too Late for Law event in November, so please do come poised with any questions you have regarding life at RPC or if you are considering a change of career.

The next ’Not Too Late for Law’ event will take place in November. You can find more information here.