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calling all solicitor mummies!

(63 Posts)
Laffytaffyx Mon 12-Jan-15 21:23:03


Wondered if you could help? I completed a law llb 7 years ago. Now I'm a secondary school teacher and I would like to leave the profession to become a solicitor. Am I mad?

I am able to fund my lpc however the training contract looks even more of a minefield then it was back then! What do you think my chances are? I'd have to brush up on my legal knowledge but the fact I'm a career changer will that put me at disadvantage? Also with a lo nearing a year old is it do able? Would appreciate your experiences any experience or advice.


Pandora37 Wed 14-Jan-15 15:25:38

Was your degree a qualifying law degree? Because if it was, and you haven't worked at all in law then it's my understanding that the qualifying aspect of the law degree runs out after 7 years and you would have to do the law conversion course. If it's 7 years in the summer you might just be in time but you would need to get in to do the LPC quickly. I'd double check with the Law Society or LPC providers but if you have to do the law conversion course on top of the LPC as well that's going to be very expensive for you.

Living Fri 16-Jan-15 05:08:45

Completely agree with Pandora on the the 7 year time limit. Oddly the LPC doesn't run out so once you have the LPC the clock stops.

I've just qualified at a top 20 international firm. I'm older than you and wasn't the oldest trainee in my intake and several had kids. I think partly down to the financial crisis, there were very few trainees who had come straight from university - most had had one or two years paralegaling / travelling between study and the TC.

So the fact you're a career changer won't be an issue at most firms (but it will be at some). You'll need to provide more information for anyone to assess how likely you'd be to get a TC. That will depend on what type of law you want to do and your own attributes including what your academics are like.

You need to have a long hard think on why you're moving to law from teaching though. Teaching is not easy and I'm well aware the hours are long. I have friends who are teachers. My hours are far longer and also less flexible - much more office time - plus I haven't had an uninterupted holiday in around 5 years! The backstabbing politics are the same. I don't have to actually teach and deal with children/ teenagers though smile

Chunderella Fri 16-Jan-15 09:43:51

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

SuperRose15 Sat 17-Jan-15 16:37:00

Why do you ask if we think you are mad? Do you think you would be mad to do it? Have you thought about doing a week or so at a law firm on work experience to see if you would like it day to day? You may find some of those you work with are less mature than those you teach! Most jobs have a down side and maybe you are in a bit of a rut with teaching? Try the work experience first and you may change your mind about switching jobs....

MadeInChorley Sat 17-Jan-15 17:15:25

If you did a law degree 7 years ago don't you have any old university friends from your LLB who are solicitors? Talk to them to get a feel for the issues of getting a training contract.

You don't say what type of law you want to do eventually. It is a challenge to get a training contract, although a previous career doesn't necessarily count against you. It can be an advantage. I help interview candidates for training contracts at my firm and they'll be interested in your A levels and university (Oxbridge or Russell Group Strongly preferred in my firm). University was a while ago for you but it's the yardstick they judge most candidates on because they're interviewed in the final year of the LLB or other degree.

I was in a Magic Circle firm for a long time, was made redundant during the recession and now I'm back at a different City firm, F/T and 2 DCs under 4. Job security is poor as a senior associate with kids. You are the first to go in a recession in my view. It isn't easy juggling the hours and there's very little predictability, esp in corporate firms. Hours are often very difficult.Teaching is a much more family friendly profession IMHO (my parents were teachers)

kaymondo Sat 17-Jan-15 17:15:41

Most of the female solicitors with kids I know want a career change into teaching!

As said upthread, I know teaching involves long hours but a legal career will have longer hours, less flexibility and much less holiday! That is not necessarily a problem if you know that you'll love the job but all needs to be considered.

I think you need to think very carefully both about why you want to leave teaching and why you think a legal career is the best option for you.

Laffytaffyx Sun 18-Jan-15 15:09:58

Thank you all for your insightful replies.

I checked on the Law society website and the 7 years time limit is no longer a condition when applying for the LPC.
I will say that I have fallen out of love with teaching after working in two institutions for a period of 3 years.
'I'm mad' as a comment was to highlight the possible risks of leaving a relatively secure job to the possible expense with no training contract route of becoming a solicitor.
I have been applying for vacation schemes and finding the applications pretty tough. I got a 2.1 from a non red brick, my a levels tally up to 300 ucas points BBB ( I don't think you can add as levels?). The big firms want AAB/ABB. However I did a 4 year course with two legal placements.

I've read about people wanting to leave the law. I yearn for a new challenge and am willing to lose 11 weeks holiday a year to work for a firm and gain a training contract. However I must say I'm thankful for the replies which included possible back stabbing and insecure job security that's definitely something to consider.

Eventually I'd like to practise within the education sectors.

Can anyone help with any tips regarding applying for vacation schemes? I think this would be my best way of determining whether the profession/firm is for me. The friends I'm in contact with now cannot offer any insight into the legal sector what so ever!

Chunderella Sun 18-Jan-15 15:46:07

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Laffytaffyx Sun 18-Jan-15 16:06:09

Hi Chunderella thanks for the reply. smile

I'm up in Yorkshire and looking for a Leeds based commercial law firm. Eventually I'd like to practice in the Education sector at a commercial firm. this can cover anything from Employment, litigation to pensions and charities. I have researched a number of firms and am just sifting my way through the 'why us' sections of the application.

Vacation scheme deadlines are looming end of the month for most. I don't think you get to choose your preferred sector whilst on a scheme; rather you may be lucky enough to get some insight.

atticusclaw Sun 18-Jan-15 16:07:01

I think you should think very carefully about work life balance. I know I'll get teachers coming on flaming me but quite honestly the work life balance you have as a teacher is amazing compared to that you'll have as a solicitor. No other job will give you that amount of holiday and believe me you'll miss that holiday when you no longer have it. DH hasn't taken his full five weeks' annual leave for any of the past four years.

I say this as a solicitor married to a solicitor with teacher MIL and FIL plus a teacher Dsis and a teacher DBil. DSis and DBil are head of department and deputy head respectively and still both have a far better WLB than most of the solicitors I know. If you have DCs then you will see far more of them growing up as a teacher than you ever will as a solicitor. As a trainee you will also be expected to work long hours and that's not something I would personally have wanted whilst trying to juggle having a toddler.

The profession is one I would tell anyone to think very carefully about entering (not just those retraining). The money is not always as amazing as everyone seems to think and the stress levels are through the roof. I have a friend who has retrained as a doctor from being a solicitor because he couldn't take the stress levels and talks a lot about how stress free his life is as a GP compared to the world of law. Money tends to get better as a senior associate but I agree with a PP who said they are the roles that are most likely to get the chop when times are tough. Many law firms are cutting out that middle band of resource.

I have good work life balance but I am my own boss and I earn a lot so I can afford to have time off. Its taken 20 years of very hard work (and a fair amount of luck) to get to this position. Even so I am sitting here working on a Sunday (this is my half hour break) and will have done a 10 hour day today by the time I'm finished. Yesterday I worked seven hours. Next week I will be working 7.30am - 9/10 every day and will not see the DCs at all.

If you do this I suspect its because you feel you need the intellectual challenge. I personally would not put that above having work life balance and spending the time with my DCs but we're all different of course.

atticusclaw Sun 18-Jan-15 16:11:39

There aren't many firms that will allow you to be an education lawyer. You might for example be an employment lawyer with a specialism in education or commercial lawyer with a specialism in education but I think you need to get your head around what area of law interests you before you start looking at a specialism.

If you're fixed on Leeds you're going to find it even more difficult and if you're with one of the bigger National firms which might have an eduction team then they'll not necessarily keep you in Leeds throughout the training contract. Most youngsters entering the profession will move to where the job is and even after qualification it's common to move around to where the jobs are.

atticusclaw Sun 18-Jan-15 16:18:33

Also think you'll need to target smaller firms with your BBB A level results. You'll struggle to get into larger firms. Therefore you'll struggle to do eduction.

Lunastarfish Sun 18-Jan-15 16:25:15

Most female solicitors I know (including me) want to leave the profession. I find it incredibly stressful despite the fact I now have quite a good life/work balance and can leave at 5.30 pm most days. Hand on heart I don't know any solicitors who actually enjoy their job and see it as their vocation. It's just a job and a very expensive one to get.

The salary is not as great as people think. I live in the south east, i have a good salary but I am not a high rate tax payer. I am 5 year pqe and earn about the same as a magic circle trainee. I have had to produce wage slips to friends to show them I am not on a six figure salary like they think lawyers earn.

The hours can suck (I have spent many weeks doing 12 hour days/weekends) and many clients (commercial or people) are very difficult to deal with. They have unrealistic expectations of what solicitors can do for them (I'm not god is what I would like to tell my clients) and then they moan when we charge(!). 'Managing expectations' is one major downside of this job.

The LPC is very expensive, hard work and there is no guarantee of a training contract. If it is something you definitely want to do (&can afford) do as much work experience before paying for the LPC. In my experience mature trainees are often preferred but there is still a lot of snobbery in the profession regarding the university you attend and A level scores. As a teacher, firms with education departments will probably be interested in you.

Sorry to be negative but I rather regret wasting so much time and money to become a solicitor.

atticusclaw Sun 18-Jan-15 16:32:59

I do love my job but I know lots and lots of solicitors and I'm not sure I can think of anyone else who loves their job. Most of my female friends are desperate to get out because of the impact on family life.

Laffytaffyx Sun 18-Jan-15 17:09:13

A lot of food for thought. I really appreciate the responses.
The thing is, I know that had I been on a teacher's thread for a career change at this point I would have have got similar points made regarding hours, work place politics, kids (clients) etc.

Yep BBB no moving away from that - there are at least 3 law firms offering vac schemes with education sectors in the Leeds area. I'll have to try. A PP suspected I was after the intellectual challenge and I'd have to agree.

Tcs seem like gold dust but allow a possibility to be sponsored for the LPC.

Work life balance is important; does anyone else feel that they have achieved this?

Nishky Sun 18-Jan-15 17:20:21

I have been a solicitor for 20 years- I have two children aged 13 and 10. I do not earn lots of money due to the area of law and the fact that I have worked part time since having the children.

I love my job and am so glad I touched it out during times when I wanted to find something easier. Although I do agree that a training contract will be tough whilst having children.

florencedombey Sun 18-Jan-15 17:58:12

Hi, just coming on to add that the "intellectual challenge" of a solicitor's life can often be a pretty small part of the job. Clients generally are not keen on paying for you to do six hours' research into an obscure point of law, however interesting you might find it. Working in a law firm is a constant balancing act between bringing in the fees (which is all your superiors will really care about) and covering your back so that you don't get sued / struck off. This is where a lot of the job stress comes from and is something that aspiring lawyers frequently fail to grasp. As others have said, most of the solicitors I know regret their career choice and would leave tomorrow, were it not for their mortgages etc. finally, I am a senior associate in the north and I earn about the same as my teacher friends, but with a less good pension, fewer holidays and no job security. Please think carefully before signing up to pay £10k of LPC fees.

Aridane Sun 18-Jan-15 18:00:54

Training contracts v difficult to obtain at the moment

Laffytaffyx Sun 18-Jan-15 18:05:48

Thankyou ladies appreciative of all comments!

forwarding Sun 18-Jan-15 18:10:53

OP I've done both, and you can forget a work life balance if you're looking at medium to large commercial firms in a northern city.

The salary isn't going to be up to much for a few years yet, plus you've got to fund a year at college. You'll need very good wrap around childcare for early mornings, evenings and holidays. That's going to be expensive.

Forget the workload teaching - it'll be three times that for law.

I think you're nuts.

As a teacher you're there evenings and weekends, even if you're planning and marking you are at least doing it at home. You don't need to worry about childcare for 15 weeks of school holidays a year. You're not starting work at 7am and as a commercial lawyer you're not even walking through the door until 8pm.

Can't you plan a sideways move in teaching? Different kind of school? Go into the LA? Specialist teaching unit?

What is it that attracts you back to law?

forwarding Sun 18-Jan-15 18:11:27

Plus BBB and a non red brick uni won't cut it for a commercial firm. Sorry.

atticusclaw Sun 18-Jan-15 18:33:14

Yes but that's kind of my point, teachers think they have no work life balance. They do compared to law. They just don't know how tough it is in a job with NO work life balance. Teaching hours really are nothing compared to the hours you'd work as a solicitor. If you found a job in a very small firm you might find there's a bit less pressure but then the money will probably be very similar to teaching but without the holidays pension etc.

And as for workplace politics, trust me, you've never experienced workplace politics until you've worked in a law firm. From the very bottom to the very top you'll spend a disproportionate amount of your time dealing with it.

I know those firms you're referring to having worked for one of them for many, many years. With your 3 Bs you will have an uphill struggle getting a foot in the door and at least one of them is unlikely to let you do your whole TC in Leeds. You'd get moved around. You're really looking at a very limited pool of potential employers unless you're willing to move about for your job.

What will you tell the firms who ask why you went into teaching before law?

Think very carefully. The LPC is an expensive option if you don't have a TC lined up and do you really want to give up those hours with your baby? That's my biggest question for you. You'll need a nanny/childminder.

Law can be great but I wouldn't encourage anyone to go into law unless they're really passionate about it and know exactly what they're getting into. Many people hate it. I'd worry that you'll regret the move.

SpaghettiMeatballs Sun 18-Jan-15 18:37:36

What do you earn and what are your salary expectations if you convert?

I couldn't do my TC again with small DCs. I say that as the mother of a one year old and three year old. I couldn't afford to even if I wanted to as a TC salary wouldn't cover my childcare costs.

I work in house and my work-life balance is a lot better than most (of course, salary is lower) but I still do a lot out of hours. As my 3 year old gets closer to school age I panic more and more about how I'm going to cover the holidays.

PrimroseEverdeen Sun 18-Jan-15 18:38:09

Totally mad IMO. I'm a solicitor did the LPC in 2007 when training contracts were easier to obtain the majority of my classmates were never successful in obtaining a TC and have retrained or are still paralegals on crap salaries, including my best friend, who had a 1st from a good uni. I've just had a baby and tbh I am sick of law. I work for a large regional firm and probably earn less than you do as a teacher!

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