In March the Law Clinic team were pleased to welcome representatives from some of Scotland’s leading firms and organisations to GCU for a networking evening with our LLB students. The evening was a fantastic opportunity for them to speak to professionals from:
Ashurst; Brodies; BTO; CMS; COPFS; Katani & Co; Livingstone Brown; MacRoberts; McCluskey Browne; McLean & Stewart; North Ayrshire Council; North Lanarkshire Council; Peacock Johnston; SCRA; SYLA and Whyte & Mackay.
Most of the organisations represented are now employers of GCU Law graduates and our students were extremely grateful to all our guests who gave up their evening to speak about their careers in law and the many, varied opportunities open to students studying law.
There was a real mix among the guests in both the sectors they worked in and the roles they perform. Being able to hear from experienced solicitors and trainees about their experiences in the profession, securing jobs within it and the lessons they learned during the job hunt was invaluable for our students about to embark on the same journey. We were also fortunate to have HR Partners join us and their tips on the application and interview process as well as what specific attributes their firms look for were very well received! Being able to have this interaction in a one to one conversation rather than across a stall at a packed careers fayre was a fantastic opportunity for the students. Our Academic Director Claire McFadzean was delighted by the turnout of employers, GCU graduates and students. “There is a real focus at GCU on the employability skills of our students. This is a key focus in the Law Clinic and on the modules ‘Skills for Legal Employment’ and ‘Professional Links’. It is vitally important in this competitive legal market that our students have well developed skills in client care, interviewing, negotiating and legal letter writing. This networking event has allowed our law students to discuss their skill set and experience with professionals in the industry and allowed them to leave with greater knowledge on how to best move forward in developing and improving their CV.
As well as welcoming guests from so many prestigious firms and organisations we were very happy to welcome back among them a large number of GCU graduates. Seeing what they have gone on to achieve in their careers was fantastic for our current students and gave them a real sense of what is possible for them. Seeing how well they are doing speaks volumes about the LLB at GCU as does the fact that these former students were willing to return and spend the evening giving back to the current law students at GCU, Indeed, Hazel Langan, one of our LLB graduates is now a Partner at McLean & Stewart.
The broad range of career paths showcased on the night included both traditional careers in law and roles that students may not initially have considered when beginning their legal education. Guests on the night came from a wide variety of roles within the profession including among others, a Partner in a high street firm, a Procurator Fiscal and in-house solicitors with local authorities and drinks giant Whyte & Mackay. New legal careers such as the Legal Technologist role pioneered by Ashurst were highlighted along with the opportunities afforded by this role such as working abroad in one of their many international offices. Representatives were also present from the Scottish Young Lawyers Association, membership of which provides many benefits to those beginning their legal careers, even at the university stage. Our Student Director Ian Laing spoke of the benefits of membership of SYLA and said, “At the beginning of May I was able to attend a talk given by a former lawyer of both FIFA and FC Barcelona free of charge courtesy of SYLA.” For students looking to further their studies there were guests who have embarked upon Masters degrees and Doctorates in law to talk about their experiences in academia beyond the LLB.
The night was styled as a ‘Speed Networking Evening’ and used a speed dating format to make sure that all of our students got the chance to speak to each of the guests. Every five minutes a bell would ring and the students would move on to the next table. The event ended up running over time with people slow to move on when the bell rang but this was due to everyone enjoying the evening and nobody was in a rush to wrap it up at the end. This showed how much of a success the event was from the point of view of the students who all thoroughly enjoyed it and also highlighted how generous the guests were with their time. They had all come from work, some from Edinburgh and Dunblane, to the event yet nobody was desperate to leave. We are incredibly grateful to all the guests who joined us and helped to inform and inspire the next generation of the legal profession in Scotland.
Our students found the evening both thought provoking and insightful having been able to make connections with people in a variety of different areas of law. Student Director Ian and Media Manager Ryan Bell contrasted the evening with other events they have attended with Ryan saying, “I really enjoyed the format. It was something very different to the usual networking events where there can be awkward ends to conversations as you run out of things to say. The five minutes was perfect and left you with things to go back and speak to people about afterwards.” Ian commented, “Ryan and I recently attended an event where we had been invited as finalists in the Scottish Legal Awards. We saw that circles quickly formed in the room and it didn’t give you a chance to speak to everyone so we wanted to do something which would give the students this opportunity. Speaking to my fellow students we would all be keen to come back and take part in this event in the future once we have begun our own careers.”
We would like to extend our thanks and gratitude to all who attended, both invited guests and students for what we hope is the first annual GCU Law Clinic Speed Networking Evening. Thanks must also go to Patrick Ring who helped with the organisation of the evening and especially to James Connolly and Andrew Tickell, lecturers in Law at GCU for footing the bill for the wine. Everyone definitely appreciated that!
A full gallery of pictures from the event taken by Joe Beaver on behalf of GCU Visual can be found here.