Many of Bristows’ solicitors have made the transition from STEM graduate to trainee solicitor. Such a dramatic career change has clearly worked for trainees in the past but of course it is still an adjustment.
In this blog, I discuss some of the useful skills I picked up both as a STEM graduate (aside from scientific knowledge) and as someone who worked in research and development in the pharmaceutical industry. I also highlight some of the differences between working in the legal profession and in science.
Attention to detail – to all science graduates turned trainee solicitors who spent hours looking at endless reels of data, your time was not wasted! Ensuring that legal documents are correct is of utmost importance and the attention to detail that you picked up as a scientist will be of great use.
Inquisitiveness – when starting to work in a new environment, it is tempting to assume that everything which comes across your desk is correct. This is not always the case! Questioning why certain sentences, facts or figures are included in a document is a skill that you will be thanked for.
Language and grammar – of course these are important in every career but I would argue that they are of more importance in the legal profession than in science. Scientists are known for being poor communicators, but for lawyers this is not an option. Misplaced punctuation or unsuitable wording, can dramatically alter the meaning of a particular sentence, which in turn can result in an interpretation that you did not expect nor want!
External clients – ultimately a law firm is accountable to their clients and this type of accountability is a huge difference between the legal profession and science. It also begets a level of formality when dealing with clients of the firm that you may not be used to. It is quite different being accountable to your scientific supervisor or manager, which is much more informal.
Recording time – time equals money…literally. Perhaps one of the most difficult habits to get into when starting at Bristows is to remember to document ALL the time you spend on each piece of work for every client. You may have an extremely productive day, completing lots of tasks for different clients, but if you don’t record your time the firm cannot bill for it.
In summary, being a STEM graduate will certainly not hold you back as a trainee solicitor, and in some ways, it will serve you well.