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Messed up career and now floundering. Advice needed from legal bods and anyone else.

(16 Posts)
thedollshouse Mon 14-Sep-09 10:24:08

When I had ds 5 years ago I decided not to return to work after maternity leave. It was a spur of the moment decision which I made for many reasons but with hindsight I realise that I made a big mistake. At the time I didn't intend to give up my career, I intended to pursue it at a different organisation in the future. Unfortunately "life" got in the way, there were family illness and domestic problems and it was never the right time to return.

Fast forward 5 years and I realise that it just isn't going to happen. I have a part time job that fits in with school hours but it is just a "job" and my heart isn't in it at all. I am pregnant with our second baby due in April next year (hooray!) and I really feel I need to get my life back on track. I realise that I need a career as opposed to a job, I need a challenge and the sense of fufilment that comes with a career (as well as a proper salary).

My previous career was connected to the legal world (although I wasn't a solicitor) and I am thinking of completing a law degree once my youngest starts nursery.

My concerns are whether I will be able to break into the legal profession. I know that I would be able to apply for city firms as I don't have the track record and my degree would not be from a top university but do I have a chance with a regional or local law firm?

I don't want to spend 3 years studying for a law degree and then find myself back at square one applying for part time jobs in schools.


thedollshouse Mon 14-Sep-09 10:25:33

Sorry should have said I know that I won't be able to apply for jobs at City firms.

racmac Mon 14-Sep-09 11:10:43

I did a part time law degree and my LPC part time - I had loads of work experience and experience in legal field and it took me 4 years to get a training contract.

The competition for training contracts is immense even before the recession - I dread to think what its like now.

I really had got to the point of giving up and if Id known how hard it was going to be i think i would have changed my plans slightly!

If you really want to go down that route try contacting a local firm - make friends with them and get some work experience but even so they probably have a letter a week asking for training contracts.

I think in your situation i would consider the Legal Executive route if you want to be in the legal side.

Or consider the local authority - they are family friendly - you will never become a partner of a firm by taking that route but you get the benefits of a LA but agin they are very difficult to get jobs as a trainee. Any more questions please feel free to ask

thedollshouse Mon 14-Sep-09 11:15:16

Thanks racmac. smile

If I completed a law degree, would I be able to train as a legal executive? I understand that you can go down the ILEX route without any formal qualifications but I would rather do a degree to keep my options open.

theoriginalmummypoppins Mon 14-Sep-09 17:37:34

Forget it. There are no training contracts about and a queues of people stacked up looking for jobs.

I have a vacancy in my team and had 140 people all qualified solicitors apply. Most of them out of work.

Sorry to be so depressing but even for those of us in work at the moment the Legal profession is a pretty depressing place to be.

Lizzylou Mon 14-Sep-09 17:43:44

Agree that the legal marketplace is pretty down at the moment.

If you did get an LLB, then you'd only need to do part of the Ilex course in order to get your Legal Exec status, you could then become a Fellow and could then become a Solicitor if you wanted to/needed to.

Training to be a Legal Exec is very much "on the job" training though, so I would try and get a job in a legal firm (as a Paralegal/Legal Sec/Claims Handler whatever) and do your ILEX course from scratch that way. I think doing an LLB at this stage and then trying to break into the legal field would be expensive and time consuming and ultimately not really worth it. YOu'd have an LLB, but no legal work experience, whereas you could work your way up, study part time and be better placed.

Have a look at the Ilex website Here, you can study via distance learning/attend college whatever suits.

racmac Mon 14-Sep-09 19:54:14

Its not just the LLB thats going to cost - the LPC cost me about £5500 and that was a few years ago - and no guarantee of a job at the end of it.

I think you should try and get a job as Lizzylou says and do ILEX or consider something else on the edges of law - Court staff, Social Services, Local Authority - not sure where your interests lie?

thedollshouse Tue 15-Sep-09 10:02:09

sad I thought that is what you would all say.

It is just so frustrating because all of the career paths that interest me are in decline because of the recession, the only careers where there seem to be a shortage are for areas where I don't excel at all such as science teachers or health care professionals.

I really want go for the Law degree because I could just about afford the nursery fees for the periods when I would be at University. If I went down the ILEX route, firstly I would find it very difficult to secure a job in the first place, if I did it would be full time and there is no way that I could afford full time childcare plus after school care/holiday care.

My second baby is due in April 2010, I was thinking of starting a degree in September 2012, I would graduate in July 2015 by which time hopefully the recession will have eased, if securing a job on a training contract or as a Trainee Legal Executive is still looking like a complete no-brainer I would go for the LLM in Employment Law for 2 years (I was an Employment Law Adviser for a large Company previously).

My sil and I are also planning a small business venture once our babies are born which is very loosely connected to the legal world and would be an extra to put on the CV when I graduate.

Am I still mad to consider this? I just want a career that is challenging and interesting. I should have gone back to my old job, oh hindsight is a wonderful thing!

Buddy80 Tue 15-Sep-09 10:23:32

Hi, have you considered studying for the LLb via distance learning? There are quite a few universities which provide the LLB in this format.

As many people have said here, there are quite a number of career choices which draw upon legal experience/qualificiations. If you search for alternative careers in law, that will give you some ideas.

Quite a few careers related to law willwould require additional qualifications, but it seems that as you want to gain the LLB, it could be a springboard for other careers. Ie, purchasing, compliance, etc.

Have you decided which area of law you wish to work in? That would make it a lot easier in narrowing it down! smile

thedollshouse Tue 15-Sep-09 10:34:31

I love Employment Law and have quite a lot of experience in that field. However I am flexible and interested in other areas of law, not sure why but I have always found insurance law strangely interesting. hmm

I was looking into studying for the LLB via distance learning, unfortunately it seems to be quite expensive and you only qualify for student loans etc if you study full time.

racmac Tue 15-Sep-09 10:43:02

How about considering a part time law degree at your local Uni then - you could start that now - would take a year extra but you may still get a job in a legal field (may be pt)

RibenaBerry Tue 15-Sep-09 17:14:51


Just thought I would add that I would be cautious about going for an LLM in Employment Law. Private pracice (in my experience) tends not to be that interested in that type of qualification. Actually, your real life experience in HR would be much more valuable. Paralegal work can also be a good stop gap if you're waiting for a training contract (and, in some firms, can be a career path in its own right, although that's a bit more variable).

Buddy80 Thu 17-Sep-09 13:08:35

Hi thedollshouse,

Are you any further forward in deciding? smile

thedollshouse Thu 17-Sep-09 14:37:41

No not really, thanks for all your comments though, very helpful. smile

The problem is my heart is in Law, I don't have a big dream to be a solicitor or anything (well actually I do but I appreciate its a little unrealistic)I have considered other career paths but they don't excite me. I won't make any firm decisions until after I have my baby next year but I think I will go for the Law degree. I like the suggestion of paralegal work as this was very similar to what I did before.

I think I will go to university rather than the OU due to costs and peoples expectations. I am studying for a course through the OU at the moment (an arts course purely for interest) and I am finding it incredibly difficult to manage friends expectations, because I am at home friends expect me to be available to go for coffee etc and get offended when I tell them that I am no longer free in the day. If I was officially a student people wouldn't expect me to be available all the time. Our local university also has a fantastic law clinic which would be brilliant to gain experience in other areas of law.

Buddy80 Thu 17-Sep-09 14:46:01


I see what you mean about campus law clinic and other opportunities, etc. But there are other volunteer opportunities if this is a main reason for studying at a local university. However, studying on campus will be a fantastic experience.

But, as an aside, your friends should maybe be a bit more supportive. I cannot think why they would get 'annoyed' at you studying! I'm sure if you make it clear you will see them in your free time.

As you may know, one of the legal skills is to be able to put across logical, valid reasoning! smile

Good luck!

Buddy80 Thu 17-Sep-09 14:47:28

sorry - I meant 'offended' not 'annoyed'!

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