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MSB Solicitors Liverpool
A training contract with a major firm is the number one priority for every third-year law student and so, inevitably, competition is fierce.

Failure to land one quickly, particularly if your peers appear to be making headway, can quickly lead to frustration and disillusionment. However, establishing a career in the law isn’t a race and sometimes being patient and seeking an alternative route can be the smart thing to do.

In September this year, I start my training contract with MSB Solicitors in Liverpool - and I could not be happier about that-  and when I do begin I will be bringing much more than just a good degree and youthful enthusiasm.

Deep end
Two years ago I decided to take on a role as a paralegal in the property team at MSB and the real experience I have gained in that time has been invaluable.

I was literally thrown in at the deep end. When I started, my team were in the midst of two 100+ unit developments completing and it was simply a case of rolling my sleeves up and getting stuck in.
There wasn’t much time to get used to the job and I had to learn quickly. Some people may not enjoy that, but I think that being pulled out of your comfort zone and forced to pick things up quickly is the best way to learn new skills.
 
Hugely empowering
Working within a small team means there are fewer staff and so a lot of the time it is all-hands-on-deck. There are no hiding places even for the most junior members of the team and you will be expected to take on important responsibilities.

This was both scary and hugely empowering. Being able to work on my own initiative and take ownership of key tasks forms part of a wider skillset that I am going to need time and time again throughout my legal career.

Becoming a paralegal is a fantastic way of overcoming one of the biggest obstacles faced by law graduates looking to get their big break - firms often won’t give you a chance unless you already have experience. So how do you get that in the first place?

I was able to do the odd week here and there with various law firms during the summers between my studies, but I still didn’t feel anywhere near prepared enough to tackle a training contract head on, nor would I have been.

First-hand
Working as a paralegal prior to training as a solicitor means you get the chance to see first-hand how a law firm operates, from the office juniors and the way post is handled, to the partners running different departments and everything in between.

You also get a chance to know the people you could be working for and with. You may not necessarily end up training with the firm that you are working with as a paralegal, but the contacts you make and the relationships you build could be invaluable later on in your career.

Most graduates have no idea what it’s like to even have a  full-time job, let alone know the ins and outs of a law firm. Getting some hard core experience as a paralegal is a sure fire way of getting just that.
Set of skills

A paralegal role at a medium sized firm pays less and doesn’t carry the same prestige as a contract with a larger firm. However, to me, they are short term and shallow considerations.
 
I want a long and rewarding career in the law and I wouldn’t swap the last two years for anything. They have equipped me with a powerful set of skills and a wealth of experience that any graduate would give their right arm for.

MSB’s newly elected managing partner, Emma Carey, also began her career as a paralegal.  Over her career she has established herself as one of the country’s leading family lawyers.

So if you are a third-year law student or recent graduate struggling to find work in the legal sector, then I would definitely recommend giving  the paralegal route serious consideration.

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MSB Solicitors

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