HM Connect attended three university law fairs this year on behalf of Scotland’s high street firms, to highlight the opportunities that exist not only with its member firms but with high street firms across Scotland.
Begun last year, the initiative arose as a result of feedback on how challenging it can be attracting trainees, particularly to rural locations, and also from students still struggling to secure traineeships during their Diploma year.
It has been interesting to hear that for many students, work in a high street practice is not something they have considered, or had discounted it as being too limited in its breadth. It seems that most students have little idea of what life is like for the large proportion of our profession that work in smaller or rural firms. Most reacted very positively when we explained about the quality of work in many firms and the opportunities that exist. Time will tell, but the feedback from the events was very encouraging.
On reflection, Suits and other TV dramas may have a lot to answer for in the way that law graduates consider their careers. The issues however go far beyond that. Looking round the halls filled with the HR departments from many large Scottish, UK and international firms, combined they represented around 48% of all traineeships in Scotland, whereas our stall alone represented around 40% (the remaining 10% going in-house).
Faced with rows of stalls with “brand” names and interesting giveaways, why would a law graduate even consider life in a high street firm?
Our initiative, we hope, is a start in addressing this imbalance. Talks, lectures and tutorials on the various Diploma courses are also a help, as are initiatives from the Law Society of Scotland and particularly Katy McKenna and the high street engagement team. Some local faculties also attend law fairs to promote legal careers in their own areas. It is however something that could be addressed at degree level to try and ensure that students are aware of all the opportunities that exist. We also hope that next year more high street firms will join us in promoting their opportunities.
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