James Peterson – LLB Law graduate

Current employer: GA Solicitors

Current job title: Solicitor

Current location: Plymouth

“Transferable skills such as business development skills are important; as a Solicitor you bring in business through networking, so you need those skills as well as your qualification. Relationships with clients are really important in our business.”

Tell us about your career path since graduation.

I went travelling for a year to Australia and America after my LLB and then returned to do my LPC. After my LPC I secured a position as a Paralegal at Gill Akaster for twelve months but, as the post didn’t start for three months, I took a short term position at another law firm in the meantime. I then completed my training contract (all with the same local firm), and I’m now looking to be a partner in the next couple of years.

Has your career path changed since graduation?

When I was at school I didn’t know what I wanted to study at university, but I did get advice from my parents and the career service. A law degree gave me lots of options and the flexibility to choose what I wanted to specialise in. Since graduating, however, I have not had to change my career path.

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to get in to the same line of work?

Get to know as many local business people as you can as it is all about connections. Go out to business networking sessions to build up your confidence of being a ‘sales person,’ and get work-based experience. I completed two work experience periods in firms in Cornwall over the summer; this gave me a feel for what the work environment would be like. I also think that you feel more confident when you go for an interview if you have some experience on your CV and something to talk about. I would recommend that students get as much hands on experience as possible because, although it isn’t easy, it is worth it. Use any connections which you have and try to offer something different to make yourself stand out. Practical experience and connections are invaluable, the more people you know, the better. Demonstrate that you really want to do it.

How did studying at Plymouth help you?

You learn fantastic life skills at Plymouth University and you get to know some local business people whilst studying as well, which is really important. I liked that the course was personal and the tutors were always available and happy to help you. I would also recommend that students attend the Plymouth Junior Chamber of Commerce so that they get used to networking in a business environment. The Plymouth Junior Chamber of Commerce isn’t just for business people: students are welcome and could make valuable contacts.

What is your favourite memory of studying at Plymouth?

My favourite memory was meeting my now wife, who was at Marjons at the same time. Society wise, I played a lot of American football, rugby, and football. Socially, this was great and made life away from home a lot easier because it stopped me being homesick. However, I know that it can also be detrimental to your studies if you do too much socialising.

Is there anything else which you would like to share with our current students?

Try to get as much experience as you can in the business world before and during your course. Speak to Solicitors and find a career mentor through the careers service. Building up connections in the industry and increasing your confidence will really help you in your job search when you are qualified. Transferable skills such as business development skills are important; as a Solicitor, you bring in business through networking, so you need those skills as well as your qualification. Relationships with clients are really important in our business.