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Selling yourself from day one

13 April 15

Legally IT: as they embark on their degree, law students should already begin developing the marketing and commercial awareness they need for life in the new world of law: here's how

by Michelle Hynes

As the role of a solicitor changes, the skills needed to fulfil the role within the legal profession have changed too. So too the demands on a law student. The life is not an easy one. From day one, law students will be reading cases, planning arguments, learning advocacy skills; and yet somewhere amidst the hours of reading in the library they are also expected to “market” themselves.

What on Earth does this mean? How do law students learn how to do this?

On graduation, each law student proudly leaves the bosom of their university with a Bachelor’s degree and Diploma in Professional Legal Practice (PEAT 1). They may have gained great experience in working as part of a team. They will have the ability to find what the law says in relation to a relevant topic and apply that law to the subject at hand. Is that enough? Surely as a law graduate you will be able to move swiftly from life as a student into the professional world of business, equipped with all the skills you
learn at university? Isn’t this what will take you into the real world of law?

WRONG.

There is something far amiss in this line of thinking. Once you’ve handed back your gown and had the family photographs and the graduation celebration, you will learn very quickly that you’ve missed something – something that you needed from the first day at law school.

You will wish you could rewind and go back to day one, because here is what you are not taught at law school.

How to market yourself and get commercial real life experience

I know this is missing, because as I embark on the world of law in the real world I look around me and see many law graduates who might have first class honours degrees but have focused only on law for the last five years.

I want to give you a quick secret guide:

  1.  Set up a Twitter account.
  2.  Link Twitter to your Facebook.
  3.  Set up a LinkedIn account.
  4.  Set up at least one blog – I have a few
  5. Set up a YouTube channel.
  6. Start connecting with lawyers all over the world.
  7. Subscribe to online journals.
  8.  Write for online journals.
  9.  Talk to your Law Society.
  10.  Enter competitions.
  11. Join a mooting club and learn advocacy skills.
  12. Blow your own trumpet!
  13. Google yourself – what do you find? If you can’t find you, no one else will either.
  14.  Connect with other students around the world and learn how they study law.
  15. Be an innovator in your law school – get involved.
  16. Write on areas of the law that interest you.
  17. Make short video clips and post on your channels.
  18. Network, both online and in real life – take every opportunity to meet lawyers.
  19. Talk to people you know who might one day become your clients – ask what do they want from a lawyer and listen, really listen.
  20. Get commercial experience now – don’t wait for your training contract.

You will not learn any of these things at law school.

No one will show you how to do it until you find yourself hunting for a traineeship and realising that if you had started on these tips from the outset of your degree, you might have had a better chance.

The world of law is evolving and you must evolve too.

Michelle L Hynes is legal process engineer, a new breed of lawyer created by “legal evolution”, at Inksters Solicitors. Tweet her @legaleaglemhm; e: michelle@inksters.com 

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