I took my degree not really knowing what the hell I wanted to do with my life (more on that tomorrow) in the vague hope that sometime through university I’d strike on a career I wanted to pursue. I think that longed-for epiphany (that word twice in as many posts; bad habit) has struck me, almost exactly as planned – but it’s still come as a bit of a surprise.
I want to be a solicitor.
It only occurred to me this Christmas, but I’m pretty sure of it, as sure as the tangle of contradictions inside my head gets. I hadn’t really even considered doing law, until a random piece of browsing led me to a page about What A Solicitor Does at the end of last term and I thought hang on a minute, I could do this.
Further research only strengthened the feeling. Soliciting looks interesting. It uses the exact set of skills I have, the ones I thought were doomed to be worthless in the real world. It involves lots of research, knowledge and cross-referencing, the things my degree is honing right now, and the persuasive, careful and formal written communication skills I’ve been working on all my life. Everything about this feels like something I can do, something I’d be good at. And (and the solid numbers behind this were the last thing I discovered in my research, not something that sealed the deal but something which sure as hell sweetened it) it’ll be a solid, well-paid job, something that will secure me the comfortable well-off middle-class lifestyle that I’m so attracted to.
I’ve had some great advice – especially from Miriam, my sharp and stunning BA Law blockmate from last year, and from Dad’s orchestra friends Tom and Helena, who both did conversion courses from totally unrelated degrees and are both very cool and put together people. Between them and the homework I’ve been doing, I know pretty well what I want to be and what I need to do to get there.
A one-year GDL conversion course at the end of my War Studies degree will put me on the same footing as those who’ve done a three-year BA in Law, provided I can scrape the 2:2 you need to get onto most of the conversion courses (I’m getting a first, I hope; if I don’t get a 2:1 or better it’ll be because I’m dead.) After that, the same procedure as the law folks: the one-year Legal Practice Course is needed to qualify me for solicitin’, and a two-year (paid – usually quite well) training contract with a law firm to get me up to speed also happens before I’m a fully fledged solicitor. I won’t be able to apply for vac schemes and TCs until next year (they usually open the applications two years before you actually go on the TC) but I’ll be sending emails to IP-related lawyers asking for work experience this year now. If I can get a law firm to sponsor me for a training contract well in advance – which I aim to, obviously – they’ll also pay my way through law school. I have a firm eye on one – Bristol-based Burges Salmon – but (partly because the odds are long against me getting them in particular) I want my options open; there aren’t any sure things at this stage.
I want to get into copyright/IP law. This may change – I’ll be exposed to the entire field for my GDL, and might strike on something I really like – but it’s what I want going in, and according to Tom and Helena it’s very good to have a focus. It’s something which interests me, it’ll (as Mr Reeve pointed out) have me talking to cool creative types like him and it’s a field that is going to get hugely shaken up in this coming century. Best of all, I understand the forces involved; years of arguing about piracy place me pretty well for it.
Law is competitive. There are a lot more grads than there are TCs; there are a lot more people than there are good jobs. The best get stacks of rejection letters; the worst get nothing but waste and debt. And law school is by all accounts a vicious, difficult slog. But I can do it. I’m bright, and I’m capable, and I can go far. This will be a challenge, and I’ve been casting about for one of those for a while.