It’s January; it’s cold, it’s wet, and it is easy to become melancholy about not being where you want to be in life. So we thought we would start the year with a few tips for any students who are still plugging away trying to battle their way to get into law, be it through a Training Contract process, BPTC, or SQE applications.
We don’t want to give boring and unoriginal advice here – you will have heard the old tropes of “get experience”, “know your firm” a million times. We want to focus on mindset – because ultimately if you can sort that out, everything else flows from it.
1. There are only two ways you fail at anything in life: (1) you never try to begin with, (2) you give up trying along the way.
We appreciate that this can be a difficult headspace to get yourself into; but it is hugely empowering the minute you realise that you do have this locus of control. Real life isn’t like school; you do not “pass or fail”. Life gives you an unlimited number of opportunities to pick yourself up and go again and strive for any goal you want.
Things will inevitably go wrong for you on whatever journey you choose to go on. People get rejected from jobs, they have a business idea fail, do badly in an exam, or get rejected from a TC application. But, if you have already set out to try and achieve that aim, you will only fail in doing so if you let that rejection or problem cause you to give up. Nobody can stop you from keeping on going, or figuring out a solution to a problem.
We appreciate that it is tough to pick yourself up after a knock-back, but it is ultimately in your control, and no-one else’s. So when you’re ready, pick yourself up, go again, and achievement of your goals ends up following.
2. Expect rejections
"Wow, thanks LPC Buddy for the motivational talk!” We mean this nicely – the sheer number of applicants for a TC/Pupillage means you can be an excellent candidate, and yet fail to make it through the application proces
We know plenty of brilliant people who have gone on to become brilliant lawyers who did not get a TC or Pupillage at the first, second, third, or even eighth or ninth time of asking. If you think about it logically, this isn’t shocking – if 1000 people apply for 20 spots (or even less), odds are that the firm will get more than 20 good applicants to pick from. And that’s fine. The fact they did not pick you does not mean that you will never get picked.
Be introspective – ask yourself what went wrong or what you could do better, but manage your expectations so that you do not let rejection cripple your resolve. Know that if you keep trying, and get a little bit of luck, you’ll get there.
3. The journey into the legal profession is a bit like climbing a ladder.
“But @lpcbuddy wtf does that mean?”.
It means that if you haven’t got onto the ladder yet, the top of it can seem a very long way away – unreachable. Long term goals always appear that way by their very nature; they are long term. They cannot be achieved in an instant, and real life offers you no cheat codes. But the point is that you don’t need to focus on the top of the ladder; your only job is to focus on the next rung and making sure you’ve got a firm grip- if you do, you will climb.
The achievement of any long-term goal is only ever about the execution of each incremental step required to get there. Move from A to B, not A to Z. The person who is already at Z is only there because they moved from A, to B, to C and so-on - they didn't get there by magic. Focus on the next task ahead and executing it to the best of your ability. If you do that, the top of the ladder is inevitable.
4. Final note
No one is born superhuman. No one is entitled to any job role or position. Talent gets you only so far; incredibly talented athletes do not even make the team without putting in the hours of work required to utilise that talent. Figure out what you want to do, and go ahead and work at it.
If you want an hour and forty minutes of life advice like this, we would highly recommend “Diary of a CEO” with Steven Bartlett and in particular this episode with Jimmy Carr: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=roROKlZhZyo. It’s an empowering reminder that amazing things can be achieved in life with hard work, that luck is something that is earned through hard work and time, not fortune, and that life is, first and foremost, about doing what you want to do, and not letting anybody else talk you out of it.
We hope you found this helpful, and if you have any questions for us, please do give us a shout.
Otherwise, best of luck with it!
The LPC Buddy Team