James Smith, Training Contract Holder at Birketts LLP

Completing a law degree teaches you about matters that touch every point of your life.

james smith

How did studying at Pearson College London help you get into the world of business?

Pearson helped me get into the world of business by highlighting the importance of experience through the many workshops and industry days. Not only did they highlight it, but they also helped me gain it. In the first year I took part in the mentorship scheme and was paired with Susanna who is Senior Legal Counsel for Pearson. Susanna’s advice helped me to navigate my course and gain a better understanding of law in practice; and the scheme ultimately led to me completing work experience with Pearson’s legal department. 

This experience helped develop my legal skills and was of great use to draw upon when seeking further work opportunities.  

Where have you gone on to work and what is your role?

I completed my LLB (Hons) Law Degree in August and am currently completing the Legal Practice Course, in order to begin my training contract with Birketts LLP next year to qualify as a solicitor.  

What lessons have you learnt during your time studying?

Completing a law degree teaches you about matters that touch every point of your life - from what to do in the case of a dispute over a product you may buy/sell, or in an accident where you are injured/suffer loss, to completing a property transaction or writing a will (and everything in-between).  

This direct applicability was massively appealing during my time studying law and whether you use your law degree to pursue a legal career or not, what you learn is highly valuable in a variety of different situations, which will benefit both your career prospects, as well as confidence in knowing your rights in day-to-day life.  

What was your favourite part of studying at Pearson College London?

My favourite part of studying at Pearson was the smaller class sizes in comparison to traditional universities. This allowed for plenty of feedback to be given from the tutors - questions could be asked at any time in lectures/seminars and outside, which helped my understanding and progression. 

The smaller class sizes also enabled good relationships to be formed with tutors and peers alike, which made my university experience much more enjoyable. 

If you had to sum up your time at Pearson College London in one word, what would it be and why?

Transformative – being based in London’s legal district, having the opportunity to speak to legal professionals and completing work experience whilst at Pearson, enlightened me to the drive and work rate successfully pursuing a career in law requires. This was an impetus for me to put even more effort into my studies and seek out further legal experiences – both of which were pivotal to me obtaining my training contract.  

What advice would you give to students looking to start a career within the business industry?

Gaining legal experience is a must – law is a competitive area and without legal experience it is extremely hard to stand out. My first experience was from a local high street firm, which I secured after handing CV’s out to all the firms in my local area - and if something similar isn’t available other opportunities could include volunteering for Citizens Advice, or applying for firm insight days.  

In regards to university, it may seem obvious, but my advice would be to do the work set, when it is set for. Putting in the hard work during term time is only going to make the exams easier. 

What's your favourite brand and why?

I may be a little bias when I say Birketts, but I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity and from my two week vacation scheme I felt first hand their commitment to quality and there ambition to excel - all in the framework of a friendly and approachable firm. It made for a great place to work and I am very excited to begin my training contract there next year.   

What course did you study?

LLB (Hons) Law Degree