Monday, 12 December 2011

The hunt for the training contract

As published in Guardian Careers and Guardian Law last week

Days are getting shorter, colder and wetter; the training contract application process reopens its doors during this time of year. For some it spells a season of opportunity, excitement and progress; for others, another year of doubt and hard graft. What is relevant to most if not all jobless law graduates is that now is a time of uncertainty; one in which confidence is strained and sacrifice is crucial.

In the increasingly limited pool of graduate destinations the law enjoys elite status as one of the most fiercely sought after professions in the country. As much "for the people" as "for big business" (and despite the former being under threat) the magnetism of the industry remains unquestioned, promising those tenacious and lucky enough to gain access all the kudos and job-satisfaction they could hope for.

Golden Eagle Lands on Rock
The immediate struggle for us wannabe solicitors is in obtaining a training contract – a two-year traineeship with a law firm. The more time you spend searching for one, the more unattainable it can seem – a feeling only compounded when you look at the facts: in 2009-10 there were 11,370 full-time and 3,140 part-time LPC places compared to just 4,874 newly registered training contracts – and these numbers do not account for the hordes of previous years' applicants still vying for their big break. The statistics serve to disarm and motivate in equal measure; they highlight a perturbing level of competition, yet somehow still croon a tantalising "you can make it" verse.

The challenge now is as much about finding the right opportunity as bolstering the CV and improving application strategy. Weighing up firms I didn't before think to consider is common-sense to me now; besides, keeping my options open at the early stages seems like a good idea regardless of the economic climate.

As competition for training contracts intensifies, so too does the rush for almost-as-elusive vacation placements and dwindling work experience opportunities. Still, the right experiences – both formal and informal – remain the most fulfilling aspect of the pre-interview effort. Today, the training contract application appears more commonly in glorious online form, making it perhaps the most irksome stage of the whole process. Each application entails hours of researching, brainstorming, drafting, redrafting and proofreading. And without the right grades, the right university name, a scrupulous eye for detail and an appreciation for what the firm is looking for, all this can amount to little or nothing.

I started the Legal Practice Course without having bagged a training contract; a decision often labelled misguided and/or uninformed. But for me, and possibly the countless others who do the same, it was instead an unwavering belief that I can do it which carried me into a self-funded LPC, and further still into a relentlessly rocky job market. If rather than looking at this decision with regretful eyes I keep this belief alive, I can only continue to feel that I will indeed in the end be successful.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

The BureauZone Crisis

Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) could use a few more like us. The adviser training course is a fulfilling and worthwhile way to familiarise yourself with the law and advice work. [This article has been approved by all relevant parties. Aspects of the account have been fictionalised to further protect parties. But this shouldn't compromise the purpose of the article.]

A Monday. New carpet smell laced with that lingering adhesive tang- the promise of the recently refurbished office space; not something I like to have greet me in the morning. But the place at least looks bright and alive. It was that afternoon’s events that made me realise what being here really meant.

I held the door open for the couple; him - tall and burly, menacing; her - short, unassuming and insipid, forcing a smile- inexpertly veiling the unmistakable anguish on her face. The man rushes past me- no eye contact, no anything. She shuffles in his trail. He presses the button for the lift and the doors open instantly. As he gets into the lift he tears in half the yellow sheet of A4 he was carrying. She approaches the same lift but the doors close on her. They don’t reopen. She keeps her gaze on the closed doors. I ask her if she’s okay and she looks at me; completely silent, vacant stare. She turns to open the door to the staircase and disappears. I’d interviewed the couple moments before. The yellow sheet of A4 was the debt form I asked them to complete before their next appointment.

I’d spent an hour with the couple. They wanted advice on how best to maximise their income. The man was impatient, arrogant and expected to leave us with a cheque for child benefits. At the time, I would have said it was the cavalier manner with which he probably approached every facet of his life that saw him unable to cooperate; after the event, I’d say it was his painfully unrealistic expectations that did it. I was left disheartened- my time and effort amounting to nothing more than mere character analysis.  

I think about how I could have done things differently; about what my natural approach would have been had I known the woman was pregnant by another man- something I discovered just days later. My immediate feeling was to treat this truth as a justification for the man’s behaviour. Then I thought more about the situation; how did she get pregnant? Was she abused? Why think about these things at all? Any combination of scenes a possibility. From that day I learnt to set aside my preconceptions along with the “what’s really going on here?” mentality; an effective lesson only available on the job.

It’s the difficult days that make an even greater reward of those times you do get to see justice along its way; helping the client identify their issue and take ownership of it; researching policy and law and delivering advice which can open up to the client new avenues they hadn’t before considered or even heard of. Many millions visit CAB and every now and then you’ll see a client whose life will be unquestionably better for it. It’s emotionally draining, it’s tough, but so rarely do you get to glimpse reality and human understanding revealing themselves to such a degree.   

In a time when Citizens Advice cuts threaten the most vulnerable, volunteers are needed now perhaps more than ever. I’ve been with my local CAB, in some capacity, for over two years, in which time i've learnt to better manage the client’s expectations - no matter how impracticable they first appear, to better manage my own expectations of the client, and ultimately to deliver an improved service. What I learn from my work as an adviser I will take forward with me into my legal career and beyond.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Beating Procrastination

By Matt Oliver [guest writer]

I’m sure many of you will have experienced procrastination in its many forms - its a fact of life for many of us. However there are things you can do to overcome it and to help you with your applications.

Procrastination is that feeling of being a bit stuck and unable to move forward with whatever you are doing. Procrastination can come about for a few reasons but the main one is because of fear. You may fear failure or you may fear what people think. Much of this can be happening on a more subconscious level too so its not always easy to identify it obviously as fear. Now without wanting to get too psychological and self-helpy on you, there are some ways to break through that fear and therefore the procrastination.

The first step is to sit for a moment and examine what you are thinking and analyse why you may think that you are fearful of failure or what others think. Weirdly you may even be afraid of success and this can lead to procrastination too. Once you identify these thoughts then just decide to let them go - recognise that they are limiting thoughts and let go of them.

The next thing to do is to make sure you are not feeling sorry for yourself. This may sound a bit harsh but often we can stop ourselves moving forwards because we are feeling sorry for ourselves. Just choose to stop this now and move on more positively. Another major reason for procrastination is because we feel the task at hand is too big. Researching those firms, making all those applications and still trying to study and work at the same time all seems like too big a mountain to climb - but that's simply not true.

At the start of your degree if you looked at all the work that needed to be done over the 3 or 4 years then you would have felt overwhelmed for sure. But when your university breaks it down into smaller chunks spaced evenly across the weeks it suddenly becomes much more achievable.

A famous quote which is good to remember is “You can eat a whole elephant if you take it one bite at a time”. The same goes for your applications and dealing with your procrastination.

This article is an extract from the eBook "21 Secrets to Successful Applications" written by Matt Oliver of Trainee Solicitor Surgery. Get a free copy of the full eBook here: FREE EBOOK

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Revolution beckons…

['Acculaw' is now called 'Accutrainee']

The Legal Services Act was the last great game-changer of the legal world. Press went into overdrive; law firms - stirred, panicked - clambered on to this new track to greatness, ran for the hills; students boned-up any which way they could – what? how? when? where? A biblical shift in the way law is done in the UK wasn’t going to trip us up at interview. And yet the Legal Services Act, still barely in effect, is soon to find itself consigned to the side story of an ever-suspect plotline.

In a recent podcast I did with The Guardian’s Alex Aldridge and Bircham Dyson Bell’s Kevin Poulter we endeavoured, perhaps in vain, to find the best route to a training contract. During the conversation we discussed, fleetingly, the latest innovation in the industry- Acculaw. But what is Acculaw and why is that name on the tip of every tongue?  

Founded by ex-Hogan Lovells lawyer Susan Cooper Acculaw was created to address the cost, inflexibility and inefficiency of traditional trainee recruitment. Acculaw’s trainees, recruited straight from the LPC, are seconded out to up to three firms for a minimum 3 months, maximum 6 months per firm. The private recruitment company pays its trainees around £20,000 p/a [this would, looking at the bigger picture, equate to a pay cut]. The training model overcomes both the £175,000 odd [says Acculaw] it costs firms to take each trainee on - GDL and LPC fees, maintenance grants, salary, training courses - and the two year time lag between the job offer and the start-date. Since the SRA gave the new training model the greenlight it’s become the buzz about town and it does have its fans - “[Acculaw is] an innovative approach to solving the challenges law firms face in recruiting appropriate numbers of trainees and managing their cost“ gushes former Linklaters head honcho Tony Angel. With such acclaim radiating from the lofty echelons of the legal world it’s easy to anticipate a rapid ascent for Acculaw. But what does this mean in real terms for us inbetweeners?  

For any inbetweener a gift is the idea that a training contract is once again attainable. But a common criticism levelled against Acculaw’s training model is the disrupted, intermittent style training it offers its employees, with the bulk of the criticism squaring on the expected quality of the lawyers it will produce. Indeed, there is little incentive for a firm to invest as much time and resources in a ‘drive-by’ trainee as in those it seeks to retain on a permanent basis [i.e. the traditional route trainees]. So might the Acculaw route make finding a qualified job harder for us? Is it a one rung ladder with nowhere to go beyond that?  

Of course, questions of this kind are only relevant while the two routes to qualification [traditional, and Acculaw] exist side by side. A good question here might be whether or not firms will plump solely for Acculaw or use it in conjunction with their own recruitment process. Top media/tech firm Olswang, champing at the bit, became the first firm to sign up and will in 2013 use Acculaw as its only mode for recruitment. How many will follow suit? At the very least, the Acculaw model could have firm bosses questioning the way their training is done. Great expense is made to guarantee the top candidates get [and keep] the top jobs; partners see the value in cultivating lawyers of their own. But as reality hits hard, the traditional, 'romantic' route to qualification could be subject to an industry-wide rethinking. Surely Acculaw wouldn't exist if there wasn't already this niggling feeling. 

To guarantee its position in the market and to ensure it lives out its dream to create “win-win scenarios for all industry stakeholders”, Acculaw will have to address a number of issues. Acculaw doesn’t pay LPC or GDL fees, nor does it guarantee newly qualified positions; it need only take a couple of years for the company to develop a reputation as a closed shop or as a meat grinder, churning up and spitting out cash-strapped, hungry wannabe lawyers. The company is eager to announce its ability to “evaluate potential candidates based on their skills, attitude and determination.” However, if in ten, maybe as little as five years’ time Acculaw finds itself at the forefront of legal recruitment it will be impelled to respond to the oft-debated 'access to industry' matter; as firms turn to Acculaw, they concurrently hand over this duty. How is Acculaw going to widen participation and promote under-represented groups? Perhaps, other than being a forward-looking company keen to find its feet, as a tangible, accountable entity solely responsible for legal recruitment, as opposed to an intangible, centuries-old culture, Acculaw will hasten the drive for diversity; lord knows the traditional ‘model’ has been decidedly slow to quell such criticism.  

The company is clearly proud of its “ground-breaking new model” and, as it stands, there are certainly positives to being an Acculaw trainee - exposure to different types of law in varying environments, plus the opportunity to show off your talents in more than one firm [thus broadening your chances of impressing]. But Acculaw may have to continue breaking ground if it is to curry favour with both sides of the recruitment game; student and firm. Maybe Acculaw is a temporary solution to a temporary problem; a snap response to an economic lull. Will it last? And there are those who say there is a predatory smell about it all, the prey those desparate to extricate themselves from the inbetweener life. But for me this just isn't true. It was my choice to do law. No one forced me to choose this path. 

Alas! I am once again faced with a choice; to apply for Acculaw or not. So, acculaw.com, was it? 

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Is your skills bank account in credit or overdrawn?

By Matt Oliver [guest writer]

If you are serious about your applications for vacation schemes and training contracts then you must have gone through the skills bank account exercise or similar.

If you don’t then its often a sign that you don’t want to see the results for some reason. Usually this is because you feel that you don’t have enough skills or that you don’t have the relevant skills.

Without doing the brainstorming exercise and committing these things to paper then you will never know. Often candidates will do this exercise thinking they don’t have enough skills and experience and when they are finished they are pleasantly surprised and much more confident about their applications.

Once you have done the exercise you will get a good bird’s eye view of yourself as a candidate and be able to see whether your skills bank account is in credit or overdrawn.

If you feel that you are light on skills and/or experience then the best time to do something about that is now. It is never too late. Do not become one of the applicants who knows there is a skills/experience shortage on their CV but buries their head in the sand and hopes they might get lucky with their applications.

You will hardly need telling that the job market is very competitive at the moment. Therefore you bury your head in the sand at your peril. The good news, however, is that there are a large number of applicants who will not even have this knowledge let alone be doing anything about it.

Therefore if you can take positive action now to top up your skills bank account through additional experience you will increase your chances of success significantly.

Even if your skills bank account is looking very healthy, until you secure a job it is advisable to continue to seek out experiences, activities and interests that will allow you to use and develop skills which are relevant to the job of a solicitor. This will not only give you a bigger pool of things to use on your applications but also more things to use in interviews as a way of backing up what you are saying about yourself. It also shows that you are a pro-active person who is keen to be taking on new challenges and learning new things which always goes down well with law firms.


This article is an extract from the eBook "21 Secrets to Successful Applications" written by Matt Oliver of Trainee Solicitor Surgery. Get a free copy of the full eBook here: FREE EBOOK

Monday, 12 September 2011

No mean tweet..

Law and education journalist Alex Aldridge caused a minor uproar amongst twitter's elite legal community when he published this article in The Guardian on Friday. The furor was sparked chiefly by what many perceived to be an attack by Aldridge on twitter regular, former TC hunter, current prospective trainee and all-round nice guy Ashley Connick - in particular: "Connick has found himself increasingly short of interesting things to tweet about now his hunt for a graduate job is over".

Founder of Twitter
I joined twitter just days before I read this article; when I first started reading it I was intrigued, even excited by the idea that I could further my profile and, what's infinitley more important, widen my job-hunting strategy via this relatively new and wondrous medium.

Blawging magnate Charon qc yesterday said of Connick: "[he] almost certainly got his training contract in a ‘magic circle firm’ by hard work and having the right qualifications – rather than his ability to tweet". While I don't doubt this for a minute, I feel it is inevitable that setting up shop in an arena where firms and other employers have a presence can get you/your blog noticed, for better or for worse.

That employers are looking to recruit via Twitter is a concept alien to me, and while firms might not be actively recruiting this way, making yourself known to them can't hurt. To my mind, what any prospective employer ought to look for is honesty, passion [of some kind], humour, and intelligence in tweets [as far as one can demonstrate intelligence in a 140 character snippet], and it is perhaps a sign of the times that suspicion is aroused when someone is also courteous and amiable on a social networking site; what's his game? what's he trying to get out of this? I am not speaking for Mr Connick here, indeed I haven't consulted him [nor anyone else] on this issue, but from my perspective, there is a discrepancy between being aware of your audience and modifying your online 'persona' to indulge or register with others.

I doubt this was mere posturing on Mr Aldridge's part; he seems smarter than this, and is in my opinion an excellent and incisive writer. But, on this occasion I disagree with him, as from what I have gleaned from my week as a twitter newbie, Mr Connick is a thoroughly interesting chap with plently to offer those who are wise enough to engage with him. If, as is being suggested by Aldridge, Connick's tweets were more insightful and interesting prior to the sun setting on his job-hunting days, then it is regrettable that I did not know him then.

If Connick tweeted then in the same manner he does now, it can only have been to his advantage. And while there is scarcely a substitute for hard-graft and sacrifice, at a time when the active, nosey kind of job-hunting is essential, we're all looking for new avenues to exhaust. This might be one of them.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

The Inbetweeners

I am leaving law school, dying in original sin, and am waiting to be eternally damned by a firm of lawyers. I'm in limbo. I am an inbetweener. And nothing on this planet is quite as wasting as the time of an inbetweener. What is an inbetweener to do?

Uncertainty is the state of existence of an inbetweener. Since I finished the LPC, the recurring thoughts are 'what on earth am I doing'? and 'should I reassess and do something else'? Is it a blessing in disguise this period of longing, lingering, lamenting? Maybe its us inbetweeners who are truly privileged. Maybe we're the ones who have the chance to have a real go at life, the ones who have the time to step back and ask 'what do I really want to do'? After all, a man finds himself when he gazes into the abyss. Or maybe we're the ones being left behind with the dregs of society; maybe we are the dregs. You can understand what I mean about uncertainty.

When you're an inbetweener you want to be employed, for neither luxury nor comfort, but for your own sanity. Finding a TC is difficult, but finding a hold-over job, an inbetweener job, is arduous because they are precisely that: jobs. We have paid our way through university and law school, endured the bad tidings of countless PFOs, shook hands with people we will never again encounter, availed ourselves as best we could of the wisdom of practitioners, and have wrestled to harbour our confidence and self-belief. Not for a job, but for a career. Not for the thing we land in, but for the thing we want.

As an inbetweener, the most stress-inducing aspect is the need to put the pursuit on hold, to an extent at least. I still send applications, attend an interview here and there and do this and that for mr and mrs legalease, but I can never immerse myself in this pursuit; I have to keep my eyes above the surface so I can see what else is out there.

Life as an inbetweener is frustrating, dull, confusing, mind-numbing and often solitary. But this could also be the most important period of my life. It is a period of, and I say this grudgingly, desperation, but also one of reflection; the two are discordant but reflection is involuntary. 'Reflection': do I simply mean I am thinking about doing something other than law? It is a more holistic kind of reflection; the French writer Chamfort wrote “a man should swallow a toad every morning to be sure of not meeting with anything more revolting in the day ahead.” Well this is toad swallowing time.

Waiting. Thinking. Grinding my teeth. This is how its going to be until my day of damnation. Damn them.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Employ me I don't want babies!

By Sissymoon [guest writer]

I am going to do my GDL in September , and like many others of you out there I convince myself I am the one that these firms want, they just don’t know it yet. I’m sure you all know how much soul searching you do while completing your application forms, you convince yourself that each firm you apply to is the one for you, you simply have to make yourself stand out from everyone else, that is actually in essence a clone of you.

You reel off how much passion you have for the firm, how you believe you will fit in very well with the other solicitors, how you respect their trainee recruitment because you understand how important it is to recruit the ‘partners of the future’ (when actually you hate it because it makes the process harder)etc etc. What interested me while completing these applications was how far one would go to get a TC. I am constantly searching for new ways to improve my applications to gain the elusive TC, and through many networking events with lawyers I found when talking to women the subject of babies always came up.

Now I am certainly no feminist, I hate them, whinging about the ‘glass ceiling’, about how porn is essentially abuse of women, how they are expected to become housewives. The basis of their argument is all wrong; why would you attempt to be equal to something you are so different to? However one conversation I had with a lawyer has always stuck in my mind; when is the right time to have babies? For some reason this stuck and made me think, has it got to a point where I feel like one of my unique qualities is that I am prepared not to have children to have a career? I am prepared to choose my employer over my ovaries.

I always joke that I would be the type of mother who would say ‘go and play on the motorway’, but the reality is if I am even debating this I would not be a good mother. Under the section ‘is there anything else you feel would support your application’ I am always desperate to put “I don’t want babies” , “I won’t take maternity leave”, “I will sacrifice my main biological purpose of being in this world”! I do however stop myself – they may think oh good she won’t sting us for flexi-hours, and covering maternity leave but she will need time off for being certifiably insane! Just how much do we need to sacrifice to show that we are different from the other 500-1000 applicants? When does the line need to be drawn, but how do you show commitment to your chosen path? I know I will regret it when I am lonely and old, and there is no one there to wipe the food away I dribbled or change me when I soiled myself , yet I would still say I am prepared to not have children for my career (and the greater good).

Friday, 12 August 2011

Interviews: Is your body betraying you?

A study, reported in a Forbes magazine article called Is Your Body Betraying You In Job Interviews?, claims that "a first impression is based on 7% spoken words, 38% tone of voice and 55% body language." The article is from 2006 but I imagine the science is still good. There is no substitute for being enthusiastic. This probably goes for assessment centres too. But what body language? How can one 'appear' enthusiastic in a scenario as artificial as an interview? Maybe its time to put on a show, break out the mirror and with it the Othello charm. Although, I suppose it helps if you are genuinely enthusiastic...


 

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Interviews: another perspective

The following piece is by Lawyered_87, poached from the cathedral that is Roll on Friday with permission. I thought it was rather spiffing, hence the poach.
                                                                                              

By Lawyered_87 on Roll on Friday on 7 August:

I was one of those candidates that was lucky enough to get invited to a lot of interviews at good City firms but never seemed to be able to break through that "glass ceiling". This had happened since I started applying 3 years ago. So I have a lot of experience with interviews and I've come to one conclusion: you cannot wing anything, ever.

I managed to get a t/c recently and I totally changed my approach for that interview and I feel this new approach helped me get it.

I treated the interview as if it was an exam. So a few days (or even a week, it's up to you) all I would do is get into a routine of getting up early and going to sleep early, and throughout the day I'd "revise". This would consist of:

- reading everything I can about the firm (its website, lawcareers.net, lex100, student chambers and partners etc.)
- keeping up to date on current affairs (BBC News, Lawyer 2B, Legalweek etc.)
- watching BBC News 24 whenever having breakfast and lunch
- practising verbal reasoning tests (if you had to)
- And the most important one - looking at every possible question that can be asked at an interview and coming up with at least some answer to them or one example.

That last part is really important. I know it's virtually impossible to know what could get asked at interviews; they'll throw you a left-fielded question you may not have anticipated. You deal with those wildcards the best you can. But there are some questions that are very common; there are great resources on-line that give for example 100 interview questions that could be asked - so I went through each one and asked myself what I'd say if I was asked them. It's a tiresome, tedious and boring process - but when you realise the potential dividends of getting a t/c through this preparation, it's worth it!

I'd also practice actually answering some questions out loud - privately in my room of course! The very act of speaking about yourself and bigging yourself up is so unnatural, that the more you do it the more natural it'll be. You can also practice structuring your thoughts/answers in your head and speaking a little slower, as nerves on the guy can make you speak too quickly and wildly.

For each potential interview question, I'd try and come up with 3 good points I'd always reel off. So, for example, "Why do you want to be a solicitor?" - for this I'd have 3 points I'd rely on; it makes you sound confident and certain. Competency questions, I'd always have one example but a second one just in case I needed it. So, for example, "tell me about a time you used teamwork?" - I'd have a good example for this, and then go through STAR structure (Situation, Task, Action, Result).

You'll see that preparation is key. When I began to have so many dud interviews, I started to realise that I wasn't preparing for them enough - and it's silly to not prepare for them. Because at the end of the day the mere opportunity to get an interview is a lot more than a lot of applicants get at all! An interview is an opportunity for you to shine and if you don't put every effort into it you've just robbed yourself of a great opportunity that others would kill for.

The added bonus of good preparation is that it makes you more comfortable, which relaxes your nerves on the day.

So be focused. Stay sharp. Prepare. It'll pay off in the end, believe me.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Commercial awareness - savvy?

Socrates. When people hear this name, many will identify the great Greek philosopher of ancient times, others will shrug their shoulders. For a minority, images of the 1982 World Cup and the blind heel pass, the two-footedness, the ruggedness, the height and the majesty will present themselves instantly. Socrates. One of the finest football captains the beautiful game has ever produced. A Brazilian [of course], Socrates was able to do the impossible. He could see things that other players couldn't even fathom. His skill and vision on the pitch made him an idol to millions.

An acute knowledge of what is around them, coupled with the requisite know-how of what to do with that knowledge is instilled in every great captain- of industry as well as football. I view commercial awareness similarly. Knowing the elements of the commercial world is one thing, but to then make connections between those elements is where, I believe, true commercial awareness lies.

Knowing that the sovereign debt crisis exists is good; knowing how it has consequences for the legal and commercial world is better- A impacts B which impacts C. Now i'm thinking like Socrates [the footballer, that is- although the philosopher was probably no dope when it came to making simple deductions]. He would know the elements on the pitch, identify the connections and execute the necessary [with all the aplomb and swagger that came to be expected of a Brazilian maestro, I should add]. For an incredible book on commercial awareness, I recommend All You Need to Know about Commercial Awareness 2011 (All You Need to Know Guides). Also, check out the Bank of England website's education section which is full of useful and easy to understand information- http://www.bankofengland.co.uk/education

For more information on the legend that is Socrates take a look at Giants Of Brazil: Soccer World Cup History 1950-1994 DVD. Its well good.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Pee-Eff-Oh

Who came up with the phrase "please f*ck off"? I want to know who he or she is. Was it one person, or was it a team effort? Was there a meeting at which it was decided that 'PFO' was going to enter the mainstream and prosper? Its a phrase used frequently and across continents and cultures; you might say its a popular, cross-continental, cross-cultural phrase. But its a funny phrase because it is intrinsically counter-intuitive, yet it captures the essence of most situations it is used in. How interesting. And it is so aptly used by beaten down future-noblemen/women.

Of course, firms that write to you to reject you cannot say 'don't want you, get lost' or 'heh' or 'yeah, nice one mate', although it would save them a great deal of time and ink. Ink is important. They pretty much have no choice but to 'PFO' us. It's good manners. PFO is manners. PFO is the art of manners encapsulated in a couple of lines on a sheet of A4. I've received some beautifully written, deliciously crafted PFO's. A few times i've been tempted to reply with a thank you note.

I'm yet to receive a PFO for the most recent round of applications. But they'll come. They will. Indeed, it was never the idea that I send off 20/30 applications and get greenlighted for all of them. PFO is part of the process. Much like people say death is as much a part of life as life itself [although this to me has always smelled a lot like BS], PFOs are as much a part of the struggle as interview offers [what's the acronym for 'interview offers'? IOs? Never heard it before.]

Who came up with the word BS? I'd like to meet them too.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Knowing when to quit

Many people will accuse those who do the LPC without having obtained a TC of being either misguided or stupid. In the worst cases I have seen, some unfortunate souls have been referred to as both of these things...in quick succession. It doesn't happen often, but i've seen it. But from official statistics which i'm assuming must exist, most people start the LPC without a TC. Moreover, those who start the LPC having secured a contract make up only a small proportion of those who do the LPC and then go onto TC'hood. But, still, there is the beclouding statistic that there are more LPCers that TCs.

But how are we supposed to know when to quit? No doubt for many of you who don't have a TC, 'quit' isn't a word which enters your vocabulary. But for me, i've always felt that I do know when to quit. It just happens that that time isn't now. My feeling of 'knowing' that I will secure one soon is sort of compounded by the fact that I know many mooks who have signed their names on that hallowed piece of paper. How did they do it and I not? Of course, there are so many objective, subjective, economical and personal factors affecting this query, but lets ignore those.

A further reason why i'm not quitting, other than that I want to be a lawyer and all that lark, is because far too much has been invested in this; financially, emotionally, and most of all, time-wise. 31st July has passed us and soon we will all discover the fate of our words of promise, and the worth of our summer sacrifices. For many, the summer of hardship will pay dividends, but for others, it won't be a time looked upon with fondness.

A summer of hardship is quickly displaced by a summer of relentlessly checking emails. I'm doing it right now. There..I just did it. Its not fun, nor is it easy to stomach a lot of the time; but for those of you like me, you'll know that now is not the time to quit, and for those of you who don't know when to quit, what can I say, other than 'keep plugging away'...until its time to quit, that is.

Saturday, 30 July 2011

In celebration..

Closing in on the 2000 page-views mark. As a sign of my appreciation to all of you who have visited my blog since its inception 12 days ago, I give you this. Use it sparingly..Legal Interview Answers for Lawyers. Its all you'll ever need. So i've been told anyway.

And on a lighter note..



 

Yep. Its a TC. A real no foolin' TC. All you need to do is print this out, walk in to the law firm of your dreams, slap it on the front desk [remember to smile; don't smile, and it could queer the deal] then stroll up to one of the partners and start complaining to him about why they haven't arranged for somewhere for you to sit yet. And they say its competitive..