Simon Wilson, Senior Solicitor at Neil Hudgell Solicitors, talks about how he got started in law and how young hopefuls can start their professional careers in the field of law.
1 What led to you become a Solicitor?
Following my degree (LLB Hons Law) I was lucky enough to get a place at the College of Law at York to do my LPC which I did the following academic year. I had by then secured a Training contract which I went into straight away. I qualified in 1996.
I have never practiced criminal law – I started doing clinical negligence on qualifying and it fascinated me. I wouldn’t suggest that students specialise too much at university though. I would suggest trying to get different work placements as this will give a student more of a feel for the type of law they wish to specialise in.
2 Do you think there’s a type of person suited to becoming a solicitor? What key skills do they need?
You need common sense as well as intelligence – they are really not the same thing. In my field of clinical negligence you need analytical skills and a dogged determination to get the best outcome for your client. Litigation lawyers are usually argumentative by nature.
3 What’s the most interesting part of your job?
Piecing together a case from client’s recollection, review of records and medical reports. Clients can have many volumes of records and a full review can take hours. You need to be able to spot the needle in the haystack. One page out of thousands may be the key, so you need to be analytical and have powers of concentration!
4 How can applicants stand out from the crowd?
Do something different. Interests such as reading or going to the cinema are ten a penny. Do some community work, get some sports coaching badges, and something that makes you interesting to someone who sees 20 CVs a week. Work experience helps. It shows you are committed.
There are many applicants for every job so you need to show commitment and enthusiasm for the law. When interviewing though the main thing is personality. Yes I need to know people have the knowledge but I also need to know they will fit in with my team. Work on interviewing skills and technique is never wasted.
5 What is the most important piece of advice you can give a law student/graduate?
Be certain it’s what you want to do then be determined to get to where you want. It is hard work and you need drive to succeed. Do work experience. Offer to do holiday work at no cost. It shows commitment. But the main thing is never give up. You will get knockbacks and it is how you recover from those that matters.