Why future trainees should consider Risk & Compliance
Are you a future trainee with some time to spare before your training contract?
Have you considered a fixed-term contract working in Risk & Compliance at a law firm?
As a future trainee, you're probably looking to gain some extra experience to give you an edge when you start your training contract. While the obvious choice might be a paralegal role, a Risk & Compliance role could give you a broader range of experience than a narrow paralegal role where you'll be stuck in one department for the entire year.
In your training contract, you'll usually move around a law firm in four six-month seats in different areas, and you probably won't know which area of law you'll end up qualifying in until right at the end of your training contract. In fact, from the point you secure a training contract, you could potentially wait four years to know which area of law you'll be practising as a solicitor.
So, the time before your training contract begins is valuable. You can use this time to pick up skillsets that will help you in your career as a solicitor. You have a great opportunity here to develop skills you might not yet have spent time on, and that might be a bit different to those you'll learn in your training contract.
To paralegal, or not to paralegal?
While the obvious choice might be a paralegal role, when law firms look at paralegal experience, they're most interested in the fact that you're working in a law firm and as a result, you've dealt with lawyers, you've dealt with the infrastructure of a law firm, and you have an understanding of how it works as a business. The value here is your experience working in a law firm, rather than the specific technical experience you may have picked up in any one particular area.
As you've already got your training contract, you don't need to prove these skills anymore. In a paralegal role, you're unlikely to be picking up a huge amount of technical experience that will be directly relevant to the role in which you qualify. You may qualify in a completely different area.
So, why not look at other options? Why not do something different that's also relevant to your training contract?
The benefits of Risk & Compliance
While Risk & Compliance is a serious career path in its own right, the work you'll do in this space is also highly relevant to life as a fee-earner. The work sees you dealing with people across the entirety of the law firm, for example, your exposure is not limited, for example, to working in the Real Estate team, as it could be as a paralegal.
In a Risk & Compliance role, you'll work with Real Estate lawyers, but also with Employment lawyers, Corporate Finance lawyers, and Banking lawyers. You'll deal with everyone who brings in work across the whole firm and look at their work from a Risk & Compliance perspective. So, you get great exposure across the entire business, and you get to understand how a law firm brings in work, which is valuable in itself.
It's also really legal! There are now plenty of people qualifying from within Risk & Compliance roles and staying within the field as Risk & Compliance lawyers. It may not be easy, but it is possible if you want to do it, which demonstrates how legal it can be.
What happens if you decide against being a lawyer?
If, after completing your training contract, you should decide that fee earning just isn't for you, you'll need a backup plan. If you have a year or two of Risk & Compliance on your CV, you'll have a strong, rewarding and lucrative career path to fall back on. With some junior experience and a law qualification, you'll be well-placed to apply for mid-level Risk & Compliance roles and pick up where you left off.
Risk & Compliance is a valid and rewarding career path in and of itself with hugely attractive potential progression and remuneration packages exceeding those of partners at many law firms.
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