FAIRE: Fairer Access Into Real Experience

Career stories: Gavin Lock

I studied Neuroscience at the University of Nottingham before trading my lab coat for law books. I had spent some time during secondary school shadowing solicitors and barristers specialising in mainly family and criminal matters, so initially felt drawn to the people side of law. After completing my degree, I coached football and worked for a children’s activities start-up, whilst applying for vacation schemes and training contracts.

The time I spent working with a start-up exposed me directly to the challenges that businesses face and I enjoyed watching and contributing to the growth of the business as it negotiated those challenges - which is part of what motivated me to pursue a career in law.

Having not studied law at University, I was very conscious that I’d be taking part in assessment days and interviews with applicants who had a background in law. I was also concerned that with no real contacts in the legal profession, my experience was limited to family and criminal matters. Without a mentor-type figure who had been through a similar process or was working within the legal profession, I found that I was often questioning whether I should have studied law instead and considered changing course on a number of occasions.

Rather than holding me back, I actually found my slightly unconventional route to be a good conversation point and quickly realised I wasn’t going to be tested on my ability to recall particular pieces of legislation during interviews. Instead, people were interested to hear about my course and the reasoning behind my chosen route into law.

On joining Browne Jacobson as part of the vacation scheme, I spent two weeks in the commercial team before securing a training contract for September 2019. After a number of varied seats across the firm’s offices and a client secondment, I recently qualified as an associate in the commercial team.

If there was any advice I would give to anyone looking to get into the legal profession it’s that all experience is valuable and whether you have gained experience in a small high street law firm, a coffee shop or studied a completely unrelated degree, there will be experiences and lessons learned that you can apply to your future career.

I would also never underestimate the importance of networking, not just in the conventional sense of the word, but also reaching out to people around you to try and gain further insight or experience. LinkedIn is obviously great for reaching out to professionals across all industries, but I actually gained my first work experience following a conversation at a Sunday league football match, so never disregard how useful a simple conversation can be.