My name is Sam Silsby, and I am a trainee solicitor at BPE Solicitors LLP in Cheltenham. I chose law later in life, having had a successful 20-year career in the public and private sectors as a project manager and a commissioning manager. I always had an interest in law, particularly employment and HR related topics, as I had managed large teams and understood the challenges facing employers. When I realised that I had over half of my career remaining, I decided it was now or never and took the plunge! I had to complete a conversion course called a GDL to allow me to have the equivalent to a law degree before taking my Legal Practice Course (LPC).
I love the blend of having to understand and work out statute and case law, then having to package up advice in a commercial way with no ‘legalese’ to assist our clients to reach their goals. It is hard work, and excellent attention to detail is required, but the satisfaction received from completing a project for a client is a great pay off.
I had to overcome many challenges, including having less than stellar A level results and not having finished my initial degree. However, I had completed other qualifications over the years, and was able to undertake my GDL. I find that my work experience over the years helped me to understand how businesses work in practice, and gave me a good grounding for being offered training contracts. The firms I applied to looked past my mediocre results and focused on what I could offer them in terms of practical experience. I wish I had known then what I know now – you can truly be successful if you are passionate about what you are studying.
One of my proudest achievements is that I completed my LPC with a distinction whilst commuting, working full-time as a paralegal to gain experience, and with a young family and a husband at home, and that I was able to role model to my girls that anything is possible if you are prepared to work for it.
For anyone looking to start a career in law, I would say you need to be very committed and work hard, but it is truly worthwhile if you are prepared to put in the work. Do some vacation schemes or work experience, and make the most of every opportunity.