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Staffordshire University
College Road, Stoke on Trent, United King, ST4 2DE Staffordshire
+44 (0)1782 294000

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Student profile

  • Name: Helen Mary Varty
  • Subject of study: LLB(Hons) in Law and The Legal Practice Course
  • Current Employer's Name: Hall Smith Whittingham Solicitors
  • Year of Graduation: 2001

Brief description of your job/duties/responsibilities:

I am working as a Trainee Solicitor and have nearly completed my first year. I cover various types of work including family, conveyancing, litigation and probate. My main area of interest is family law which is the area I would like to ultimately practise in. My main duties include seeing clients and advising them, developing my own caseload alongside working for other people in the firm. I do a lot of negotiating with other solicitors, drafting letters and legal documents. I also attend court on a regular basis to represent clients.

Brief description of your career history to date:

To date my career history is not vast due to the fact that I have not yet fully qualified in my choice of career. When I was at school I did a week's work experience in a solicitors, which I really didn't enjoy, but coincidentally it was the firm I now work for, although it has since merged with another. Whilst at university I undertook a summer placement for six weeks working in a solicitors office, which gave me a very good insight into the legal profession and was very interesting.

On completion of the LPC I undertook temping work as a legal secretary whilst seeking a training contract. It was through one of my temping placements that I got this job.

Throughout school and university I did lots of different jobs which involved working with people, although they were not directly relevant to my choice of career I feel they gave me valuable experience. In particular I learnt how to deal with people and their problems and also working as a team, which is vital to most careers.

Outline of any further training/qualifications taken since graduation:

Since graduating and obtaining a training contract I have successfully completed the Professional Skills Course.

Your thoughts on being in the 'real world' after being a student and how your course did (or didn't!) prepare you for it

I don't think any academic course can ever truly prepare you for the culture shock of getting into the 'real world' and working full time. The Legal Practice Course for me was a step to understanding how work would be in practice, however many of the skills required in a job cannot be learnt in a book. This is not to say that the academic qualification wasn't helpful or indeed necessary, but nothing can compare to actually doing the job on a day-to-day basis.

The 'real world' is a scary place so make the most of every minute at university. It takes a lot of getting used to but eventually you adapt to the working environment and most importantly taking home a wage every month!!!

Any advice you would give to current students (on your course or considering a career in the same line of business):

If considering a career in law then I would say, make sure you really want it. It takes six years to qualify as a solicitor, a lot of hard work and money is involved, but it will be worth it.

Generally I would say to any student considering what career to chose, just make sure you consider all the options and be open minded, you will be surprised by the number of careers there are which you may never have considered. I wouldn't recommend doing the Legal Practice Course unless you are absolutely certain you want to be a solicitor, because it is tailor made for legal practice, and whilst the skills you learn are excellent they are very specific to a solicitor.

Do you have any more comments?

Only that I really enjoyed my time at Staffordshire University and if you are thinking of becoming a student or are already a student make sure you make the most of every minute because as soon as you start working full time you will wish you were back there!!!

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