Monday, 30 July 2007

Course choices

I should be making next year's course choices round about now. I'm not sure how important these really are in terms of future employment; I guess it's helpful to have a demonstrable interest in a certain area of the law if you hope to go on and practice it, but given that most chambers tend to discourage early specialisation I doubt it helps to go in with blinkers on.

I still have one compulsory element to complete, which is Jurisprudence, and which I am really looking forward to as I tend to enjoy the theoretical stuff. I'm flirting with the idea of an outside option - Gender and Society - I'm planning on hitting up the human rights chambers so I don't think it will be too difficult if I'm asked why I took this course rather than a Law option. Helena Kennedy thought it was important, anyway (Eve was Framed is an excellent book and one which I highly recommend reading).

As for the rest? One definite is International Protection of Human Rights. The fourth is the one I'm undecided on - choices are Advanced Torts, Commercial Contracts or Competition Law. Advanced Torts is the one which is the most immediately appealing to me, but I probably shouldn't choose courses on their gore and drama potential. There is also the consideration that I would like a decent clutch of firsts next year and don't want to choose courses which will make that tricky. Conundrum!

Sunday, 29 July 2007

Internships ahoy

It is summertime at the moment (though you would be forgiven for disputing this, given that enough rain has fallen over the last few months to turn my feet webbed).

Many people seem to share a fond view that students spend their entire holidays ensuring that their overdrafts are well and truly maxed out, lazing around, getting on their parents' nerves, allowing their blood alcohol levels to return to normal after the excesses of end of term parties and spending an inordinate amount of time on social networking sites aimlessly clicking.

I have to admit that sounds like a beautiful idea, but unfortunately for many wannabe lawyers, the necessary evils of internships and mini-pupillages will intrude upon this idyllic sloth. Most of my friends who plan on becoming solicitors have already spent countless hours doing online applications and traipsing to interviews - now these efforts have been rewarded by places on vacation schemes and the chance to work for what is probably less than Minimum Wage, given that most of them won't see daylight for the duration of their vacation schemes and will stumble, bleary-eyed and midnight-tanned, out into the dazzling sunshine pouring rain at the end of it all. It's worth it for them. It's a foot in the door, and some of them will be rewarded with the offer of training contracts.

In contrast, the mini-pupillage doesn't really play the same pivotal role that vac schemes do for solicitors. I must admit to feeling rather smug, watching my beleaguered friends fill out application after application at the beginning of the Lent term - most mini-pupillage applications require minimal amounts of paperwork. This smugness was probably ill-founded, considering I'll probably be living in a garret, eating 22p bread from Tesco with "value" jam and burning pages from old textbooks to keep me warm whilst they're all getting sloshed in Canary Wharf courtesy of the money advanced to them to cover their LPC.

It's possible that an early offer of pupillage will arrive; I'd prefer not to hedge my bets at this stage. At any rate, it has certainly been brought home how much more certainty is afforded by the vac scheme system (unless you don't get offered a training contract at the end of your vac scheme, in which case I warmly invite you to share my future garret- as long as you bring your own bread). Mini-pupillages offer many things; a chance to scope out prospective chambers; an increased understanding of the (sometimes arcane) world of the Bar. The list goes on. But at the end of the day, nobody is going to turn round and say, "You know what? You made tea so beautifully. Your photocopying was exquisite. We would love to offer you a pupillage."

For me, the days spent researching, filling out applications and preparing for interviews - they haven't been avoided. They'll just come at a slightly later date, whilst some of my wannabe (gonnabe?) solicitor friends will be able to sit back and enjoy the rest of their summer knowing that they have secured a training contract and can now commence full scale slothfulness. Lucky buggers.