My journey as a trainee solicitor
Rosanna Watts | 15.03.2019
15.08.2018 Eman Hassan
Becoming a solicitor is the dream of many, but too often there is a belief that there is only one path to achieve this. Here, Eman Hassan explores the different path she followed to become a qualified solicitor at Moore Blatch LLP.
From a facilities temp at Moore Blatch LLP in October 2012, to a fully-qualified solicitor in May 2018, the route to becoming a solicitor hasn't been straightforward for me.
I have always wanted to work in the legal industry, inspired by securing justice for innocent victims and making a real difference to people's lives. But with an industry-wide recruitment process that is very rigid and focused on good academics, at times realising my dream seemed impossible. I know I'm not alone in this feeling. As a result of our traditional recruitment system, intelligent people with different types of skill sets often get excluded.
When I left university in 2012, I knew my dream of becoming a solicitor was going to be a challenge, but like so many young people who study the Legal Practice Course (LPC) I was resolved to succeed.
The next few years were a blur of long hours - I worked full-time to be able to afford my part-time studies – and training contract application rejections.
Thinking back now on how competitive the training contract market really is, I think I always knew I was going to be unsuccessful in the traditional route to qualification. With huge demand for a limited number of places, the task of choosing applicants to invite to interview becomes a sorting process. It often feels like they automatically eliminate you if you don't have a first or a 2:1 - maybe they do? I don't know and each law firm will operate differently, but what I do know is hard work and determination will ultimately pay off. I progressed to a legal secretary and then a paralegal in the Major Trauma Department at Moore Blatch. As a paralegal, I learnt about the Paralegal Equivalent Means route (PEM), and for one and a half years worked tirelessly to build up a portfolio which showcased my experience with practical examples of everyday work, as well as the relevant 'extracurricular' work I had undertaken.
Last week, I qualified as a solicitor. It wasn't easy, and it can be time consuming, often making it difficult to have spare time at the weekend. There was a six month period where I was in the office working full eight hours days during the weekend. It doesn't last forever though and if you're reading this starting from the same point as I did, I encourage you to keep working and follow your own unconventional path.
Our industry is in real need of greater diversification and we do need to change old and outdated perceptions of what makes a 'good lawyer'. Whilst academics will always be important, so are the practical working skills such as communication, flexibility and teamwork, which do not come from a textbook.
Moore Blatch has recently set up an Aspiring Lawyers Group and through the Group; I hope to inspire others who want to find the route to qualification that is best for them - whether that be a traditional training contact, Paralegal Equivalent Means or the Chartered Legal Executives route. I was so lucky to find an amazing mentor at Moore Blatch, Trevor Sterling, who gave me opportunities beyond my ranking and encouraged me throughout my Paralegal Equivalent Means journey. The Moore Blatch Aspiring Lawyers Group will look to do the same for young people across the UK.
Sometimes, it can be tricky to keep faith that success can be achieved, but your passion and determination will lead to something better. It's important to remember that there are plenty of different routes to qualify as a solicitor and there should always be a helping hand to guide you through the process. The legal industry needs your unique skillset.