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Making the Most of Your Student Guide

A guest blog post from The Lex 100

The internet brings good tidings: you are, at any point, exactly one “How to… law” Google search away from an embarrassment of information riches on how to ground and grow your legal career. To add to that, you can also count on student guides to law for overviews and peer to peer reviews of the training contracts of particular firms.

Because we kphotonow it can be difficult to filter through all the facts and figures that student guides have to offer, we’ve put together a list of five key points we think will help you research even more efficiently:

1)      Says who?  We get everyone’s input when we’re in a spot, but we generally only take advice from people we trust. Conversely, always look into where a guide’s coming from and how it got its information, and make sure that what you’re reading came from sources and through methods you find both convincing and reliable.

2)      Soul searching – while logical, this first step isn’t always the most intuitive, and a lot of people start their reading hoping to ‘discover’ what it is they really want along the way. Take a few minutes to jot down what’s important to you from a personal and professional point of view, and then do your research for the law training and lifestyle that might suit these interests.

3)       Trade-offs: Firms have different strengths, priorities, strategies and cultures, and sometimes an achievement in one area (getting great, high quality work) might mean a compromise in another (longer office hours). When reading about a firm, try to put the individual elements of its training programme in the context of its overall activity, as well as of its other pros and cons.

4)      Apples and pears:  a UK-exclusive boutique firm specialising in family law and an international legal corporate giant might both be great places to train at, but they’ll be no more alike on paper than they will in practice. Your student guide will give you a true picture of what it’s like to do law at particular workplaces, but it’s slightly unfair to pitch completely opposite firms against each other on that count. Instead, look at the places that match your personal interests (such as firm size, practice area, client list, friendliness, etc), and use your guide’s comparison tools to see how they rate against similar competitors on that same front.

5)      The meet-and-greet is mightier than the pen: while home reading is an irreplaceable pre-requisite, you should look at it as the theoretical stage of your decision-making, and do your best to try to engage with your favourite firm during a career fair, presentation, open day, networking event or vacation scheme. Student guides can describe a workplace culture, but they can’t recreate it, and interacting with the firm should still be your primary reference for that.

About The Lex 100

Our annual student guide to law relies on the peer-to-peer reviews we get by anonymously surveying a firm’s trainees and asking them to rate and comment on their training experience.

That input and industry knowledge lets us put together firm profiles, comparison charts, career tips, practice area overviews and application deadline tables. We also have a regularly updated online news hub, as well as a recently launched Ask the Experts section, where a panel of legal specialists from top UK firms answers your law career questions on a monthly basis.

Employer Engagement Team

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