Hi, my name is Kyla, and I am a 22-year-old law student at City University of London. In this blog, I will talk about how I built connections with professionals within the legal industry using social media platforms such as Instagram and LinkedIn.
My journey into law was not straightforward. I was not initially interested in studying law or becoming a solicitor, but I liked writing essays and participating in debates at school which I found out were essential skills in becoming a lawyer. So, at the age of 15, I decided that I will pursue a career in law.
I did not have any idea on how to qualify as a solicitor in the UK. Only that I thought that as soon as I finish my bachelor’s degree, I will officially be a lawyer. But I was wrong. I found out from my friends and colleagues that gaining work experience was necessary in the legal industry to get to where I want to be in the future.
I was too focused on the academic side of my legal journey, that I did not realise, at that time, that work experience within or outside of the legal industry is equally as important as getting high marks in written exams. I finished my first year at university with no legal work experience. I felt then that I was not as competent as the others. I knew that I needed to do something to become a more well-rounded and capable candidate for a legal position once I graduate.
My family did not have any personal connections with anyone who worked in the legal profession. For me, that meant that I must go my own way and find those connections. In June of 2019, I created an Instagram account to document my journey as a law student at City University, and this is how I obtained my first legal work experience.
One day, a solicitor firm’s Instagram page started following my account. It is a high-street firm based in Luton which specialises in criminal defence, employment law, and immigration law. My curiosity and eagerness to get my first work experience led me to privately message them on their Instagram account. I introduced myself, I told them my first-year final marks, and I explained to them my willingness to gain my first-ever legal work experience. I was so happy when they agreed for me to work in their office for two-weeks and sit in the criminal defence department and assist the paralegals with their caseload.
My student accommodation is in London. I had to take two tube trains, and one overground train to get to the Luton office by 9:00 a.m. I had to wake up at 6:00 a.m. to get ready and embark an hour-and-a-half journey to their office. The journey was the least part but I loved assisting the paralegals and the solicitors. I quickly discovered though that criminal defence is not an area of law I would like to specialise in the future due to the nature of the cases they handle. But the point is that creating my Instagram account helped me to find my first legal work experience as a law student.
My second and third work-experience came about when I created a profile on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a professional network on the internet where students or job-seekers can use to find job, internship, or connect to the professional in different business sectors. My second work experience was in a high-street law firm in Southend, Essex. I stumbled across their LinkedIn profile when I saw their page pop-up on the recommendation page to follow. I went to find their main website to connect with one of the partners in the firm. Before commencing my final-year as a law student, I was offered a one-week work experience in their child law and medical negligence department. I genuinely valued the connection I made with the partners at the firm.
My third-work experience was with Dias Solicitors in Holborn. I saw Crystal Dias’ profile on LinkedIn and as soon as I saw that she is Filipina solicitor and her office is in London which is easy for me to travel to, I just knew that I had to contact her for work experience. Dias Solicitors offered me a two-week work experience, assisting Micah Lee, one of their trainee solicitors, in immigration related matters.
My recent legal work experience have proven to me the power of social media in helping graduates like me to network and connect with employers in my chosen industry.
I am due to graduate in July with a first-class honours degree in Law, and I am also due to start my role as a part-time paralegal at Dias Solicitors this August.
I can say that with perseverance and self-determination, you can achieve your goals in life. Take every opportunity that comes your way, and if it the path is not that easy, then go and find it for yourself.
Kyla Allyna Donnelly