Pathways Into Law

Date: January 30, 2024
Categories: 11-15 | 16-18 | 19-24 | Featured | Meet Your Future

Meet Your Future: National Careers Week 2023

Careers in the Public Sector

Pathways Into Law

Welcome back to the Meet Your Future series of articles, all about careers in the public sector. So far, we’ve covered off politics and the fire and rescue service.

Our third National Careers Week article is all about careers in law. In this session, we heard from Judge Guirguis, who is a District Judge, and Tracey Etienne MBE, who is a Senior Legal Manager. In the video, they talk about both of their different pathways into their legal jobs.

Watch the whole interview below, or read on to find out our highlights, including some top tips on how to start your career in law.

Judge Guirguis’ pathway into law

In the video, Judge Guirguis describes how she got started in the legal sector. She said that she originally wanted to be a stock broker, but changed her mind during an employer visit when she was doing her A Level in Law. This is a real testament to the power of getting out there and seeing workplaces while you’re studying. Judge Guirguis described going to Nottingham Crown Court to see the law in action.

She said that when she saw barristers and judges walking around, doing lots of important things, she immediately thought: “hold on a second – this is what I want to do!”. Following this realisation, she changed her plans from wanting to enter finance to studying law at university and then going through the stages to qualify as a barrister. There’s more info on this process below. For more on Judge Guirguis’ pathway into law, including details about some of the early cases she worked on, check out the video!

Tracy Etienne MBA’s pathway into law

Tracy Etienne had a very different pathway into the legal sector. She left school before sixth form and started her career at TSB Bank as a cashier – hardly the typical academic route into the law profession! She described how she quickly did her qualifications with the bank. During this process her strong communication skills shone through. She actually ended up becoming one of the youngest bank managers in the country, at just 22 years old.

However, after becoming a bank manager, she decided she wanted to change her career. She moved on to a degree in Business with her local college, which was linked with Salford University. After this, Tracy did some work experience at a solicitor’s office, which she loved – again demonstrating the importance of experiencing what it’s like in different workplaces.

Tracy described how she found it difficult to become a barrister, as there were challenges because her degree wasn’t from Oxford or Cambridge. Also, she said that some people didn’t think she would make it because she didn’t look like the other people who worked as barristers. However, ultimately she did a law conversion course and got her career in law started.

Top advice for entering the legal sector

Both Judge Guirguis and Tracy emphasised the importance of extra-curricular activities and life skills to help if you’re applying for legal jobs and courses. Judge Guirguis said there are always lots of applications from people with very strong academic records. This means it’s often the things that you do outside of the academic that can make you stand out.

Tracy agreed with this, saying that when hiring for legal advisers, she often looks for skills like communication and problem solving. It’s vital that you do know and understand the law for these jobs, but in many cases success will be about life skills and confidence rather than academic achievement – despite how academic these jobs and courses can be!

Careers Tip: Judge Guirguis also highlighted the Bar Placement Scheme as a great option. If you’re a student interested in becoming a barrister, you can spend up to four days shadowing a barrister on this scheme. Find out more on the Bar Placement Scheme webpage.

Find out more about careers in law by watching the full video with Judge Guiguis and Tracy Etienne MBA above. Or, check out the GMACS blog for more videos and blogs from our Meet Your Future National Careers Week video series.