If you’re anything like me, your student loan doesn’t even half cover your rent, and you’re wondering how you’re going to survive uni. So you decide that you can juggle a part-time job and a full-time degree for a little extra cash in your pocket. You wonder how your part-time job is going to, in any way at all, benefit your future career plans or whether it’s a waste of time. Don’t dismiss it!
In this post I aim to tell you about the transferable skills that I have learnt in my part-time job and how they are going to massively benefit my future career as a barrister!
- Commercial awareness: Commercial awareness seems to be the ‘buzzword’ in the legal profession at the minute. It’s about knowing what is going on in the world commercially, and for commercial lawyers will form the basis of their work. Even for non-commercial lawyers, commercial awareness is an excellent skill to have, as it shows that you are able to keep up to date with the world around you. Commercial awareness is a skill that I have developed in a sales role, which has involved negotiating discount (being aware of how much discount is available to use so that the company is still making a good amount of profit). Also, my company in particular are very good at keeping employees informed of the position of the business as a whole in terms of profit and loss, sales figures and our competitors.
- Confidence in speaking to a range of people and building rapport: As a sales advisor, it is my job to make people feel at ease as soon as they walk into store, to greet them with a smile, to overcome any objections that they have and to talk not necessarily about the products that they’re buying, but about their lives too. This approach helps me build a rapport with customers and put them at ease straight away, which makes it easier for both me and the customer when I’m selling. However, its also an important skill to have in the legal world too. As a barrister, obviously you are self-employed so there is no teamwork required as such. However, I would say that this is where it’s most important to build a good rapport and make connections- if you have good connections with solicitors they may send you work, if you have good connections with other barristers they may help you out on a case, and even for those of you not yet in the legal profession- good connections can mean experience!
- Problem-solving: For me, being a barrister is all about problem solving- your client has a problem and you aim to solve it. My sales job is all about problem solving; customers come to me with a problem and it is my job to listen to them and show them products that fit their criteria and work for them. It’s about knowing your products, listening to your customer and knowing what might work for them. Law works exactly the same; it is about listening to your client and finding the best solution for them with your knowledge of the law.
- The ability to communicate clearly and concisely: A barrister is no good if he/she rambles on and the rest of the court (including the judge) has fallen asleep by the end of his submissions. The best way to present is clearly (so that everyone knows what you’re saying) and concisely (so that the rest of the courtroom isn’t asleep by the end of it). I would say the same to be true of a sales environment. I could tell you the ins and outs of every product on the shop floor, but the customer doesn’t need to know or particularly care. One of the most important skills to have is the ability to discern what is important and what is not.
- Working under pressure: It is no secret that the legal profession is pressurised, it’s a fast paced environment; you have deadlines to meet, clients to please and no doubt need to be in two places at once sometimes! The same can be said for sales; there are targets to not only hit but exceed and you can often be juggling three or four sets of customers who all want your attention. This, in my opinion, has helped me learn to prioritise and manage my time well.
So, there you go, 5 reasons why your part-time job may be more relevant than you think to your career in law. I could have carried on writing forever, but I’ll stick to 5 for now! If anybody has any ideas for my next blog post feel free to tweet me (@EllisKindred_) or comment on here!