The typical, obvious career path for law students is to become a lawyer. In fact, for those wishing to become solicitors at large corporate law firms or successful barristers at various chambers, the road to get there is very tough, but clearly mapped out. And yet, this route is not for everyone. In a two-part episode, Bianca Caravtov, a law graduate from the University of Warwick, talks about her journey to a non-law, customer success role at Microsoft. What follows is important advice for those currently questioning whether Law is really for them, how to break out of it and an important reminder of why your 3+ years of hard work are not wasted.
Trusting your gut
Ever since deciding she would go to law school, Bianca had been convinced that a successful career as a commercial lawyer was and should be her goal. In fact, she engaged with that world in the textbook way, as both the President of the Commercial Law Society and a Campus Brand Ambassador for a city firm. She had well-rehearsed interview answers at the ready, and yet, they never felt completely genuine…
“If you have the slightest bit of reservation about being a lawyer, that should ring alarm bells”Bianca Caravtov
In a university environment where “Magic Circle” law firms and various law societies are very loud and visible, it can be difficult to step off the treadmill towards a career in commercial law. Your friends around you may be landing vacation schemes and training contracts left and right and encouraging you, with your best interests at heart, to do the same thing.
In the midst of that, standing up and saying, “look at me, I’m going to do something different from everyone else” and actually stand your ground is tough. It requires self-confidence, some serious introspection and reflection, and trusting you know yourself best.
A change in perspective and exposure to different interests
For Bianca, this perspective shift was her year abroad in Hong Kong. The teaching experience there was completely different, life there was not the same and neither were the topics of conversation. She developed an interest for artificial intelligence and the law, despite not being particularly tech savvy. Additionally, by travelling to thirteen different countries from Hong Kong, she realized there was more to life than work and started to question her previously held convictions that striving to be a successful workaholic was the be all and end all.
If the opportunity of doing a year abroad is available to you, both Annabel and Bianca highly recommend it. And if you’re worried about that additional year making you too old in comparison to your age group come graduation, don’t be; it doesn’t matter. And that extra year might just save you from putting hard work and long hours into a career path that ultimately isn’t for you.
You can’t know if you don’t try
If you do have that gut feeling but feel like you need to solidify it before pivoting away from law, gaining experience in the legal world will help you do so. For Bianca, her internship with the in-house legal team at TomTom in Amsterdam did the trick. According to her younger self at the time, this was going to be THE dream job. And it just wasn’t. Maybe she couldn’t quite put her finger on it, but she knew it just wasn’t working.
Take a chance
Now that you’re in a better position to trust that gut instinct, you have to act on it. In Bianca’s case, this was applying to Microsoft after having attended an Open Day on Artificial Intelligence (see, you never know where your interests will take you, just make sure to have some). But, your chances of getting a job at Microsoft or another technology giant of the kind are second to none right? Listen carefully to the advice Bianco got from a Microsoft recruiter:
“Do not eliminate yourself from the process. Let us reject you if we don’t think you’re the right fit. You can’t make that decision for us”
Basically, apply and see what happens!
Leverage your incredibly valuable skill set
Whether you become a lawyer or not, the value of your law degree should not be underestimated. The transferrable skills you gain are very valuable and it’s up to you to recognize and leverage them. Take a step back and think about it. Law students are taught to:
- Digest large amounts of information quickly and accurately
- Solve problems using evidence-based analysis
- See both sides of a story
- Question the status quo – cue “law reform suggestions” in your essays
- Write logically and clearly
- Pay attention to detail
And, of course, don’t forget the vast array of soft skills you pick up along the way, ranging from time management and accountability, to resilience and working under pressure.
Bottom line, your law degree is not a waste!
If you are interested in hearing more about what Bianco does as a Customer Success Account Manager at Microsoft, give the two episodes a listen. And if the words “mixed reality” spark curiosity, the second episode in particular is for you!
The Wired Wig explains how law and technology can intersect, demystifies technology and explores alternative technology careers for students.