In 2009-10, traineeships were at a low of 4,874 following the double-dip recession in the UK. Fast-forward to 2015, the number of training contracts commencing in England and Wales has risen to around 5,500. Yet, this number fails to live up to the 5,809 traineeships that were available before the financial crisis. These figures hailing from AllAboutLaw attest to the competitive legal market in the UK; “the plight of the law graduate remains intact”. Taking advantage of the lull that has hit the traditional career route to law, new pathways have rose to prominence. Here’s some things to think about in the changing legal landscape.
(1) KEEP AN OPEN MIND
Pinning all one’s hopes and dreams on securing a training contract can prevent law students from succeeding on time and considering cost effective alternatives. One such alternative being BARBRI International, training law graduates, with nothing more than a UK common law degree, to pass the New York state bar examination and qualify as a US Attorney. Don’t believe me? The numbers say it all. According to their website, BARBRI’s six month bar prep course comes in at £5,000, significantly less than funding a training contract without sponsorship. What’s more, students can, on passing the New York exam, obtain a qualification that is internationally recognised within the space of a year. Therein lies the appeal of thinking beyond the traditional: embracing the alternative could help graduates to get on the career ladder ahead of their peers.
(2) DO NOT LIMIT YOUR HORIZONS
“What if I want to be a UK solicitor?” Believe it or not, qualifying as a US Attorney can improve your chances of practicing law in the UK. “It made sense to me to become dual-qualified after bar admission in New York”, says Priya Krishnan, director of legal education at BARBRI International, on taking the Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme (QLTS) following her return to the UK. This is owing to the dominance of NY state law in commercial transactions taking place in the UK, and vice versa. Ultimately, qualifying as a US Attorney can improve your desirability to those employers who had once turned down your application for traineeship.
(3) ACCEPT THAT “ALTERNATIVE” WILL NOT MEAN “EASY”
The bar exam demands hard work and dedication, and some will struggle to balance studies with other commitments. However, such alternative options can be more focused on the individual, thereby enhancing chances of success.
It has never been clearer that BARBRI International listens to its students, having just launched a course in “Foundations in US Law” designed to help enhance understanding of topics of substantive law tested on the Bar Exam that are alien to non-US law graduates. Moreover, for each Multistate subject, students will be taught how to tackle each part of the exam, and be given the opportunity to practice what they have learnt. Although the course is self-directed, students can expect immediate feedback on their personal performance in, for example, practice essays, helping them to build confidence in their own abilities. By targeting highly selected or particularly difficult exam sub-topics, this course prioritises individual success, demonstrating BARBRI’s commitment to assisting its students on their path to success. By contrast, in 2009, a city law firm reportedly let trainees go via voicemail.
This article is not to undermine the benefits of working hard to secure a training contract during one’s degree; traineeships are often a rewarding experience that bolster a legal career. But, it is not the end of the world if an application for traineeship is turned down. In the changing landscape of the legal market, it is about time that UK law graduates looked outside the box so as not to limit their horizons, whilst taking the opportunity to demonstrate the hard-work and determination that employers look for.
This article is the work of the Campus Ambassador for BARBRI International.
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 Ciaran Gill, ‘What are my chances of getting a training contract?’, (AllAboutLaw) < http://www.allaboutlaw.co.uk/stage/finding-a-training-contract/what-are-my-chances-of-getting-a-training-contract> accessed 24th March 2016.
 BARBRI International, ‘U.S. Bar Review Course Information’, (BARBRI International) < http://www.barbri-international.com/become-a-us-lawyer/course-information/#pricing> accessed 24th March 2016.
 Careers Team, ‘Seeking a job outside law ironically put me on the path to qualifying as a lawyer’, (Legal Cheek, 1st December 2015) < http://www.legalcheek.com/lc-careers-posts/seeking-a-job-outside-law-ironically-put-me-on-the-path-to-qualifying-as-a-lawyer/> accessed 24th March 2016.
 ‘City legal firm tells trainees contracts not renewed on voicemail’, (The Telegraph, 12th June 2009), <www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/5515044/City-legal-firm-tells-trainees-contracts-not-renewed-on-voicemail.html> accessed 24th March 2016.