Accountant/ paralegal-lawyer career advice?(16 Posts)
Not sure if this is the right place...
I'm from Jamaica...hubby is British..we currently live in Australia. Planning to move to the UK when DH finishes his second Msc.
I have a Bsc. Business Management (2:1)... I'm a mum ... of 2 & a half children ( due in march). I have previous work experience working as an accounting clerk and in administration. But I resigned from last job...with the prospects of landing a job in a bank...but then moved to China with husband. I taught English for about a year...very good fun! Haven't worked since then...now a SAHM.
So was considering doing the AAT through Kaplan to start bookkeeping from home...with the hopes of working as an accounting clerk then doing ACCA. Only problem is; I'm good at accounting, but I don't love it. I find it very boring and repetitive and not very challenging after a while.
Now I've been looking at the GDL. I do like law, and did it as part of A levels. I would do the GDL... with the hopes of securing a job as a paralegal and using that to fund my LPC and eventually work in corporate/finance law.
I guess I'm here for a bit of advice going about this. I would do it part-time. As a SAHM I have the time...and would transition well into working (paralegal) as by the time I've finished children will be in school. But I would like to know the level of commitment required... job prospects..and institutions recommended.
I'm a bit excited about the prospect of change...but nervous about making a bad decision...and managing all this with 2 children 20 months apart.
Advice is welcomed!
I'm a senior lawyer and run my own law firm.
1. Do you have impeccable academics?
2. Do you realise that paralegals in the UK are generally paid minimum wage? And hoping for a part time paralegal role might be a little unrealistic. Paralegals are usually (although not always) graduates from law school who have been unable to secure training contracts and are desperate to show their worth, working all hours in the hope of landing that training contract. It's not really a part time role. Certainly a part time training contract would be practically unheard of.
3. Do you realise how bad the work life balance is for most lawyers (particularly in corporate)? It's not easy with a young family.
Only embark on the GDL and LPC if you've secured a funded training contract. They let lots of people on nowadays who stand very little chance of ever securing a training contract.
Thank you for responding.
Yes I have impeccable academics...thanks for asking. I got a 2:1 with honours... all my A levels are grade ones or A. I did get into law school to do a 3yr undergrad but had other commitments and I wasn't entirely sure..so deferred my offer.
I would do the LPC part time...work full time. I know paralegals aren't always law grads..but that's usually the case and I know it's not a part-time role. And I do know the training contracts are hard to get.
Work life balance is hard to get... What career woman has the perfect balance TBH somethings have to be sacrificed... I'm not superwoman here nor aiming to be super mum. My aim is to try and marry the two if I can...without having to do the LPC. So GDL + undergrad...would maybe put me in a better position to gain employment in corporate finance...not necessarily becoming a lawyer who specialises in that field as its still all up in the air about what I'd like to do. The paralegal bit was to gain I guess practical experience of some sort. As I've seen positions for finance paralegals at above minimum wage ( well I assume it's above)... The aim is not to be a life long paralegal...but also maybe not a lawyer.
I will take on board your advice about only undertaking if fully funded. I did read that it is quite a saturated market. I guess I just wanted to know if there is any merit in having a law qualification as well as a business degree.
Maybe I should do a bit more research... just trying to avoid becoming a proper accountant!!
Maybe I am a bit over excited
What is it that is putting you off about being an accountant? You don't have to work in a firm of accountants. I'm a finance director in a manufacturing company. We employ 30 people. The money is good, as is work life balance.
I chose the CIMA qualification, and I have been qualified for about 15 years. Quite a bit of variety day to day. I have worked in global businesses previously.
From what I can gather, there are generally more accountancy than legal jobs around.
The financial branches of the civil service such as the Serious Fraud Office could could be an area to look as accounting and legal skills are a good mix for investigators
I dont think you're over excited it's just that your OP read as though you were going to try to fund the LPC through working part time as a paralegal and you also spoke about having a young family.
IME its really difficult to work in law when you have children at primary school unless you have support. Nursery isn't hard because they have long opening hours but once they get to school it's different of course since some schools finish by about 3pm. If you're a senior lawyer you can potentially afford a nanny etc but if you're a paralegal working on a very low wage then that is going to be difficult.
Our paralegals are different from the paralegals you see on the US dramas. They're basically dogsbodies. We don't have career paralegals in the same way as they do in the US. The US paralegals seem to be more akin to our legal executives.
The paralegals at DH's firm earn less than £15k and work very long hours and all are doing it after the LPC in order to try to get a training contract. An applicant with an LPC is far more likely to win the paralegal role over an applicant with a degree or GDL only. All applicants will have top class academics from decent universities with a fair amount of decent work placement experience under their belts. It really is a completely saturated market and not one that I would advise anyone to go into unless they know that they already have a training contract place secured.
The law schools now push the GDL heavily to make money. Its wrong. I regularly see CVs from applicants who stand very little chance in succeeding at a career in law (poor academics, poor university) and it makes me really cross that they get accepted onto the GDL and LPC and are persuaded to part with their cash. When law firms with five training contract slots have 30 CVs on their desk from Oxbridge/RG candidates with Firsts then they rarely look much further.
If you're trained in accounting and want to get into law have you considered Legal Cashier work? It's better pay than paralegal work (I used to do it and earned £3k more per year than the paralegals in the firm) and there's less competition than for paralegal positions.
OP I would echo Atticus' comments.
Law is in my experience a long long hour career and the ONLY ones I know with part time working (usually for child reasons) are already well established and frankly at the top of their game. Their version of part time is being blunt many others equivalent of full time.
I would also echo the comments about not commencing the GDL or LPC UNLESS you have a traing contract otherwise you really may just be throwing your money away.
You are clearly well educated and ambitious so I would encourage you to consider other options - how about consulting or tax type services?
I've just re-read your response. If you don't necessarily ever want to do the LPC then I don't think doing the GDL is worth even considering. The GDL is the equivalent of what in my day was the CPE. It gives you the same grounding in law as an undergrad law student with the sole purpose of enabling you to have the foundation to then go on to do the LPC.
If you're finding the accountancy dull I think it's because you're starting with AAT. AAT is a fab qualification but it's for people without higher education so it naturally starts off quite slow and simple. With your level of education you should be going straight into ACCA or equivalent which you should find more of a challenge, more about business management (including some law) and less about basic transactions.
I don't know much about law but I have worked in accountancy for 25+ years and there are lots of opportunities for different types of work plus I've had no problem working part-time since I had my kids so it sounds a lot more family friendly than law. Bear in mind there are experience requirements as well as passing exams in order to become qualified.
Thank you all!!!... will take it all on board. Will be doing some more reading etc.
I worked as an a/c clerk ....my first job. I found it tedious and very boring. But maybe it was the company I worked for... they lacked moral and had no organizational culture etc.
I guess I'm just worried about falling into the same situation again...and don't want to get stuck doing something I might hate.
Accountancy can also open doors not just to auditing but other roads within finance
You may find working in a school finance office interesting. Schools manage their own budgets and this can be £millions. The big bonus is that often part-time working and holidays are more family friendly. You may well find your experience and qualifications would be fine, but just do not look at the Bursar role first!
Definitely do not do the GDL. On its own, it will get you nowhere. Not only are there lots of GDL holders looking for paralegal work, there are people who hold the LPC and the BPTC (Barristers qualification) that do not have training contract/pupillage. They are also trying to strengthen their applictions. It is a very crowded market!
I am a commercial lawyer (solicitor, London). Go for it. We need many more good women in law.
Aim high. Definitely do the GDL (both my daughters did and are now London solicitors). Also apply to law firms are early as you can. you might even find one to fund your GDL and LPC which happened with one of my children.
I am sorry I am a voice in the wilderness here saying go for it but I don't think you get anywhere in life by not taking risks. You have an international background. You've travelled. You'#re a mother. You are probably black (Jamaica - apologies if I jump to conclusions) and have good academic results. You are just what many law firms in London need. If I were you I would start applying now for voluntary internships - no problem that you are pregnant. I worked full time right through pregnancy in law - it's not an issue. You will be paid for those and at the same time apply to firms to sponsor you on the GDL unless you are too late on timing for that and also on the LPC.
I know a lot of paralegals earning a fair bit in London - £30k a year is not uncommon and some earn more but you may not need to be a paralegal if you can be sponsored on GDL and LPC by the firm you will move to as soon as you finish the LPC.
I'm a paralegal in a different legal field (we mostly don't use that term in the UK but my US equivalents are all called paralegals and it's the same idea). I work from home around my children. I earn about £40k pte, so significantly more than minimum wage.
On paper, I have exactly the job you want.
However, it has taken me years to get to this point and the entry level is definitely minimum wage territory. It's also a very small and crowded field and nearly everybody starts off in London (maybe 10% in the other big cities).
It's also worth bearing in mind that certain legal fields have more scope for active paralegaling than others - off the top of my head paralegals in PI and conveyancing do a lot of independent procedural work that doesn't need a qualified solicitor, whereas I would have thought the bulk of corporate/finance work would be substantive advice and the support staff are nearly all admin/typing.
Anyway these are my musings.
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