There’s more to life than books

Shut up in the library or at home putting in long hours at the books it can seem like it’s only there that the answers can be found.

Surely this is the route to success: make notes, review your notes, highlight your notes, chop them up and force them down with a funnel and some nice pinot grigio/biscuits/cigarettes, and try not to choke.

However, life isn’t an exam and, as many of the ­features this issue highlight, that attitude won’t lead to a successful/profitable/happy/fulfilling legal career (these terms don’t have to be mutually exclusive). By all means munch on your notes while listening to Today and reading Lawyer2B but remember that experience is the key. The Dewey & LeBoeuf trainees who are now ­searching for new homes are high-calibre people but the academic credentials are rated just as highly by firms now hiring them as what else they offer. A brainy bunch yes, but also diverse, having languages such as French, Russian, Arabic and Mandarin and a “cosmopolitan” outlook means they’re being snapped up.

And contrary to popular belief firms don’t always hire in their own image. The raising of awareness over ­gender and ethnic diversity has invigorated the ­profession, although more needs to be done around awareness of disability, as shown in our piece at page 22. We also look at developing commercial ­awareness on page 27, a key point of which is the need to analyse the legal issues and experience business in action and, as noted in our feature on interview ­preparation at page 38, “there’s no real substitute for meeting people”. But not just business people. Getting involved in law clinics will help your career and ­education. If you aren’t sure where to start, look at our How To guide on page 61.

This theme is best summed up by David Wolfe QC on page 50 advising prospective barristers: “If you want to be acting in the cutting-edge cases, you need to be out there. You aren’t going to go anywhere if you’re just reactive.” Carpe diem!

christian.metcalfe@thelawyer.com