By DebbieH 19 Dec 2018 7 min read

The First Year Action Plan for Law Graduates

Law has become one of the most popular university courses in the UK; and with more students choosing their path in the legal sector every year, the job market is becoming even more competitive. As a law graduate, you will find that rejection is inevitable in most cases and only the resilient and dedicated applicants will find success.

As a graduate, it’s important to stay motivated and to continue applying for different graduate roles and internships. A strong professional portfolio will set you aside from the crown and will put you in high esteem with employers.

Graduating from any course can be quite a daunting experience and many of us are left feeling lost and out of our depth. Being as organised as possible can help you to curb this feeling of unease and the unknown and can make searching for a job much more manageable. For this reason, we would suggest following our first year action plan, as this will help to set you on your way in the legal sector.


How to write a law CV:

One of the first things that you should be doing once you have graduated with a law degree, is creating a professional CV. As you will know, competition for legal jobs is intense, so it’s important to have a strong CV and cover letter, as this will help you to stand out to employers for the right reasons. Your CV and cover letter need to demonstrate your wider understanding of the legal sector and to persuade the employer that you would be a fantastic recruit.

Your cover letter needs to initially mention the position you are applying for, as well as how you found out about the position. This should only consist of one or two sentences as a maximum. Your cover letter should inform the hiring manager about your key competencies and qualities, why you are suitable for the position and why you would work well within the firm. As a closing statement, it’s always best to inform the employer that you are looking forward to hearing from them.

Your legal CV should be clear, concise and well-written. Remember, that a hiring manager will have to read through hundreds of applications, so a CV that isn’t easy to read will often be discarded of. Include your educational experience i.e. your GCSEs, your A levels and your university degree, as well as any professional experience you may have. This will help the employer to make an informed decision based on how much experience you have and how well you have performed academically.

Every application should be bespoke to the position you are applying for, so it’s crucial to read through all of the different requirements that employers set. It’s always easy to spot when a CV has simply been copied and pasted, as opposed to a well thought out application. Think of it this way, if you were a hiring manager, would you prefer to choose a candidate who has taken the time to create a detailed CV that is catered towards your business? Or a candidate who hasn’t put as much thought in and has simply copied and pasted the same CV to several different employers.


How to build your professional portfolio:

Breaking into the legal sector can be a difficult feat and in most cases, you will be required to have experience before you can get your foot on the ladder. It’s important to make sure that you get as much experience as you can before you begin applying for jobs.

Within your first 12 months of being a graduate, you may have to make some sacrifices, by taking unpaid internships in law firms. This may seem like a financial burden, however, the experience that you gain during your time there will be invaluable. This will bode well with lots of employers who are looking to hire a law graduate, as it demonstrates that you have working knowledge and practice within the legal sector.

Remember, this is a fast paced and intense industry, so having experience shows that you can not only keep up within the industry, but that you are willing to continue working within the industry after everything you have experienced as an intern. A graduate who has experience is a graduate who will be favoured above all other candidates.  

A lot of university courses will require you to take part in a work placement for around 2 weeks in order for you to gain some work experience in the legal field. However, a lot of graduates make the mistake of thinking this is enough to impress employers. Graduates who show initiative and secure internships at law firms for an extended period of time after they have graduated have the advantage in any application.

One tip that we can share with you, is that your 12 month plan should be focused towards gaining experience, rather than chasing a salary. When trying to break into the legal sector, it’s important to prioritise experience and building up your professional portfolio, over salary, as this will put you in a more secure position in future application processes.


Bio: Alice Porter works closely with Gorvins to better inform professionals on how to become more successful within their respective industries.