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So you want to be a lawyer?

It’s getting to the time of year where learners of all ages are preparing for their exams and thinking about what they would like to do in the future. We asked Ashley Harkus, Managing Partner, of Everett Tomlin Lloyd & Pratt solicitors for tips on how best to start a career in the law.

, who employ 40 staff from their offices in Newport Pontypool and Usk, said “To be successful, businesses need committed and talented staff. We have grown in the last decade by recruiting   experienced lawyers from other firms but we are also committed to training and supporting graduates, young lawyers and support staff who can have a diverse range of qualifications and life experience.

“Lawyers come from many different backgrounds and while completing a degree and the Legal Practice course is the traditional way it is not always a pre-requisite as there are other routes to qualification. At Everett Tomlin Lloyd & Pratt our team includes Solicitors, Legal Executives, Paralegals, Legal Secretaries and support staff and we are proud to support their ongoing career progression.

“While many of our team have undertaken degrees followed by the Legal Practice Course we also have Chartered Legal Executives   and offer placements to graduates and LPC students which can compliment their academic studies and help them gain an insight into the realities of the workplace by shadowing lawyers and staff. We also offer shorter work placements for A level students.

“We currently have two law students, at different stages of their degrees, working with us who started with the firm as volunteers on work experience and are now employed with us as Paralegals. This means that when they finish the academic stage of training they already have experience of the workplace, have seen lawyers advising clients, talked through cases and processes and are in a far better position than students who have never stepped into a solicitor’s office.

“Our firm also supports Torfaen Training. Those who have joined us through the training scheme gain a variety of experience with us during their set period of training and some have become so invaluable to us that we have asked them to stay with the firm once their training placement had ended.

“This isn’t new to us though. One of our success stories is that of Partner, Kay Perrott who joined the firm as an Office Junior in 1995. Kay then became a Legal Executive before becoming a Solicitor. Kay has since been made Head of our Family Department and a Partner at the firm. In 2011 Kay was short listed for a national award as Law Society Young Solicitor of the Year for her dedication and commitment and has gone on to be a respected childcare lawyer. We have a number of staff at different stages of their training and aim to support them to achieve their ambitions.

“The wide-range of experience our team has also provides us with expertise in a wealth of different areas and training is ongoing throughout any lawyer’s career. While some entered the profession through different paths, we share the same passion for offering our clients the best legal service we can so that the firm can continue to grow.

Advice for those seeking to enter the legal profession

If your goal is to become a lawyer, go along to Careers Fairs where employers can often give you advice. We recently attended a Careers Fair at Bassaleg School where we had the opportunity to give guidance to those considering a career in law and were very impressed by the enthusiasm of the students.

If you are in College or University make the most of the careers opportunities offered to you to improve your CV. Find work experience in the legal sector to gain an insight into the daily work of lawyers. An email approach to the office manager with your CV or at least some basic detail of where you are academically can often lead to a placement. Many firms advertise vacancies on their websites or via social media and many welcome an extra pair of hands even if it’s only making the tea and shadowing other staff.

Helpful work experience is not limited to law firms; the Citizens Advice Bureaux can offer training to volunteers and their legal clinics provide first hand experience. Barrister’s chambers may offer mini pupillages and some courts offer the possibility of shadowing a judge or district judge. As a start you could   go to your local magistrates or crown court to sit in the public gallery to watch trials. The best advice is to be proactive, as if you don’t ask, you don’t get.

Ashley Harkus is Managing Partner at Everett Tomlin Lloyd & Pratt which employs 40 staff at their offices in Newport Pontypool and Usk. Ashley is an employment lawyer and Solicitor Advocate who advises and represents businesses and individuals on a wide variety of regulatory and employment matters and is part of the committee of Torfaen Business Voice which support local businesses in Torfaen.

 

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