Chapter 16 Guidance to answering the practical exercises

CVs, applications, and interviews

Q1. Identify the skills you have acquired outside of your study of, and practical work experience in, law. Consider how they would help you to add value to a law firm.

This question is to encourage you to think about transferable skills. It will be a helpful exercise to consider what you have done outside of law, and how you can re-frame this to show a graduate employer that it has helped you gain skills that you can use to benefit their business. Sections 16.4.2 and 16.4.3 give you guidance about how to do this, and how you might need to play around with the format and headings of your CV to focus on these skills you have acquired outside of the legal world. For example, do you have experience of client care, complaints handling, negotiation, working under pressure, paying attention to detail or being organised? If so, re-frame your experience in these terms, which are recognised and valued by graduate employers. It will present so much better than saying, ‘I worked in a shop last year’.

Q2. Identify the skills you have acquired during your study of, and practical work experience in, law, and highlight those which you think are transferable skills which would be valued by graduate employers in sectors other than law.

Lawyers have not traditionally been as good as the accountants in selling our qualifications as a gold standard for entry into professions other than law. In fact, what we learn during our academic training gives us skills on which any profession would place a high value. The introduction to chapter 16 and section 16.4.3 makes clear that a law degree and work experience in the sector will have given you valuable skills including:

  • advising;
  • commercial awareness;
  • communication skills (face-to-face, by telephone and in writing)
  • critical analysis and reasoning;
  • drafting;
  • evaluation;
  • attention to detail;
  • the ability to distil and summarise information;
  • negotiation;
  • networking;
  • problem solving;
  • research; and
  • strategic thinking.

These skills will be valued by employers in many sectors including:

  • academia;
  • accountancy;
  • the armed forces;
  • banking;
  • the civil service;
  • finance;
  • government;
  • journalism;
  • management;
  • the police;
  • publishing; and
  • recruitment.

Q3. When is the best time for you to schedule regular time for PDP, and how much time can you devote to it?

This question was designed to help you factor PDP into your timetable, because it is so important to start it early to identify gaps and address them well (that is, years) in advance of the application process. It can feel counter intuitive to look for issues that you need to address, as if you are creating work for yourself, but you should see the process as doing little and often now in order to save you time and prevent you from a more stressful situation later on. It should all help to secure you the job you want, too, which must be a positive thing. As 15.2.2 explained, the simpler your PDP, the more likely you are to use it. Your university is likely to have templates you can download and use to make the process painless. Make finding these your first job once you have scheduled regular PDP time in your diary.

Q4. Identify three gaps in your current CV which you need to address as priority. How do you plan to address them, and by when?

Again this question was to encourage you to engage with the PDP process. It may be that you do not have any work experience, or you do not know how to network, or you are struggling to cite examples of teamwork. Identifying the gaps is the first step. You then need to explore the opportunities presented to you as a student (and there are likely to be many) and plan to exploit them to fill the gaps you have identified. If you start early, this process does not need to be painful, and it is likely that it covers activities you might have done in any event, but through this process you might take a contemporaneous note of them and perhaps approach them in a different way. For example, rather than drift around a law fair looking for free gifts, you might prepare for one using the guidance set out in 15.7.1 and gain networking and possibly work experience from it.

For more information and guidance on Law Fairs, see for example:

Q5. When is the earliest time you can apply for the graduate role you are seeking?

Taking a year out by choice is one thing; taking a year out because you inadvertently missed an application deadline is something to avoid. When I teach graduates on professional programmes often I feel frustrated when I hear that they have not been made aware of the early application deadlines for the larger law firms and other professional employers, and have missed out on potential funding and are having to finance an expensive year out. You can apply for some roles in your first year if you are on a two year degree, and in your second year if you are on a three year degree. Factor in that these employers will want to see some work experience, and you will see that you should be preparing some sort of application right now. Familiarise yourself now with the timings and deadlines set out in 15.2 so that you can plan your applications for graduate roles and work experience in good time.

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