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Trainee Solicitor to Teacher career change

Discussion in 'Thinking of teaching' started by Emma_2209, Jul 21, 2020.

  1. Emma_2209

    Emma_2209 New commenter

    I graduated in 2018 with a First-class Law degree and then went on to complete my Masters in Legal Practice in 2019. In total I have spent around three years working in various areas of law and I am currently a Trainee Solicitor.

    I have started to realise that this career path may not be for me. I do not find working in law very engaging and the work does not interest me. I can go days on end in the office without anybody speaking to me/engaging in conversation. My colleagues have all on to say good morning to each other. I find the office environment in a commercial law firm depressing, tense and stressful.

    I have always considered becoming a teacher, but having done a Law degree I thought that the natural thing to do was qualify as a solicitor. At the time none of my peers wanted to go into teaching, or any other career and were swayed by the 'big money' you can earn in law (not worth it when you consider the demanding clients, extra long hours, business development events and weekends spent in the office).

    I feel like teaching will be more fulfilling, engaging and interesting. I understand that the pay is not fantastic and I have also been a little put off by some of the overly negative posts on here. However, I feel that I would have a better quality of life than I do now. Having come from a legal background, I am used to the extra unpaid hours. I doubt I would begrudge the extra prep so much, as it is a career I believe I would enjoy more.

    I feel a little bit stuck and don't know how to progress. Ideally I would like to teach secondary and/or A-Level. Potentially History, English, Politics or Law. I don't even know what subjects I could teach with a Law degree. I have A-Levels in Law (A*), Modern History (A), Fine Art (A) and an AS-Level in English Language and Literature (A).

    If I were to go down the English or History route would my job prospects be reduced given I do not have a degree in my subject area?

    Is there anybody who could give me some guidance or anybody that may have been in a similar situation?

    Thank you.
    ACOYEAR8 likes this.
  2. meggyd

    meggyd Star commenter

    I'd give the law a go. Seriously. If you still feel like this in a couple of years you can always retrain then. I also think you would have to do a lot of work before you find yourself accepted as a subject specialist. Not many schools do law and you would not get a full timetable just with that subject.
    agathamorse and ACOYEAR8 like this.

    ACOYEAR8 Star commenter

    Law and history often go together...FE might be a good pathway or a Sixth Form.
  4. flora35

    flora35 New commenter

    I can relate to your post Emma, as I felt the same 10-12 years ago. I stuck it out and made partner in my 30’s. The hours were brutal and Law firms can be difficult and competitive places to work. On the plus side, I’ve made some amazing life long friends and developed some great skills, such as communicating and negotiation. However, my lack of enthusiasm for my job has continued. I am now looking forward to changing career and feel fortunate that I’m able to do so. The problem you may face, should you wait too long, is you may find as you become more experienced, you may take on more commitments I.e. a mortgage, and it becomes harder to change careers.

    I see many solicitors who are happy in their jobs and an equal amount who are unhappy in their jobs. I’ve seen one or two retrain in totally different areas, but mostly the unhappy ones are stuck in jobs they dislike to pay the mortgage, fund children etc. It is the same in many professions I expect.

    Certainly, my advice would be to complete your training contract and get a year or two of experience post qualification so you can go back into law if you would like to in the future.

    Getting some work experience after Covid should help you to decide which career to pursue.

    My understanding is that you can generally apply for teacher training courses in the subjects you hold A-Levels in, although you may be required to complete an SKE. However, when it comes to applying for jobs you may be at a slight disadvantage in comparison to an applicant with a degree in the subject. This should not deter you, as once you are established in your subject, it shouldn’t make much of a difference. I’ve been told this from friends in teaching, although I guess there are many factors involved.

    I’m not an expert at all and may be wrong, but I have spoken to many teachers and this a summary of my findings!

    Best of luck.
    agathamorse likes this.
  5. Emma_2209

    Emma_2209 New commenter

    I think I will continue with my training contract and qualify as a solicitor, as this is only a couple of years. Then I will reassess the situation.
    Thank you for the advice! It’s really good to hear from somebody in a similar position. I think it is best that I persevere and complete my training contract and then reassess the situation in a couple of years. I’ll also keep the money/commitments aspect in mind as this isn’t something I had really thought into.
    agathamorse likes this.
  6. blueskydreaming

    blueskydreaming Lead commenter

    Try to spend some time in secondary schools. The things you mention above are things I recognise in schools, too.
    catbefriender and agathamorse like this.
  7. flora35

    flora35 New commenter

    Also Emma, I’ve only worked at one national law firm, and it was very different to working in a small or mid sized firm.

    You may find working in a mid sized firm much friendlier and the hours less intense.

    Maybe go to a few networking events, such as the JLD when the meetings are back up and running, and diplomatically ask your peers about the firm they work at. You will soon get a sense of which firms have happier employees. A bit like schools really!
    agathamorse likes this.
  8. Shedman

    Shedman Star commenter

    Have you had any school experience since you left yourself? As I say to all people who want to go into teaching, get some experience or observation of life in the classroom before you commit yourself. Approach some local schools for some shadowing or observation and ask the teachers what they think of it as a career.

    What you may have seen in the government teaching adds may not exactly tie in with the actuality of teaching. More than half of you time will be taken up with paperwork, marking. planning and meetings. It's not all standing in front of the class while the students sit spellbound. You may also not have appreciated the degree of accountability and scrutiny you will be under. You will be held accountable for your students results even if they do little work themselves.

    If you decide to pursue a teaching career then I wish you every success but just make sure you know what you are letting yourself in for and how much you will be giving up to pursue you teaching ambition.
    geordiepetal and agathamorse like this.
  9. install

    install Star commenter

    You can do a quick Conversion Course which allows you to teach English or History in a secondary school. Go for it and try to get any bursaries you can grab.

    However, I’d be tempted if I were you to go for the private sector. It’s easier in my view. Give teaching three - five years though and have an escape route. Unless you end up loving it of course. Watch out for the egos that you will come across.

    Good luck.
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2020
  10. zetafunction

    zetafunction New commenter

    I have posted this somewhere else but it might help you with your question; The grass is not always greener ........ Good luck.

    If I see my younger self, full of dreams and aspirations and full of energy to dedicate a life time in providing education and a ways out through it for the future generation, I will stop myself from proceeding.

    I have never have been in a more demoralising, thankless and soul destroying profession, I am very sad to admit it to myself, " never under estimate the power of self delusion" but to be honest, I am heartbroken about my choice, albeit with very good intentions, about the paths I have taken, about what it could have been, about the road not travelled.

    I sit in the staffroom and look around all I see is broken spirits, defeated individuals, just waiting to get to retirement with their pride and faculties intact, I am one of them , although I deceive myself in thinking that I am just an observer, it is very hard to look at all those, including my own, shattered dreams and broken spirits, like soldiers in battle field blown apart their limbs thorn off, the soldiers will get a prosthetic but there is nothing worst then a broken spirit, there is no prosthetic for it , so I will stop my younger self to ever embarking on such a course.

    Of course you make your own decision, but history teaches us if we don't learn from it, we are condemned to repeat it! Teaching slowly traps the teacher, in terms of pay progression, more financial responsibility, guilt etc etc , right now at the start of one’s career, those traps are just that, traps, avoid them, run from them, life is too short and precious to be wasted, I am not saying teaching is not a great profession, it is, but our first duty should be to ourselves, to help ourselves, then only then we are able to offer that help to others. I have through my long career ( still in the trap) spoken with hundreds of teachers, the combined teaching life of may be over a century of teaching, and without exception I have been informed of the above, they cannot wait till the time comes for them to retire, that includes me too, life is too short, in the time scale of eternity, we are this little spark that is flying from the anvil of creation through the darkness and soon will hit the ground and fizzle out, choose carefully how you are going to use the rest of that brief flight to nothingness and oblivion!!!!
    Jolly_Roger15 and Shedman like this.
  11. rolls

    rolls Occasional commenter

    With a law degree you could study a PGCE in Citizenship
  12. pennyh.

    pennyh. Occasional commenter

    Complete your training and do some voluntary work offering your skills or something different for a break. If children are involved you will find out if you like them! (you might do this already)
    agathamorse likes this.
  13. celago22

    celago22 Established commenter

    Completely agree that you should complete your training post and work for a year or so, you might feel differently by then. Why don't you book some annual leave and see if you can volunteer at schools to gain experience of working with children, speak to teachers and gain an insight into the role of a teacher?
    agathamorse likes this.
  14. Lalad

    Lalad Star commenter

    I switched from law to primary teaching but I spent several years out of private practice, in the legal department of a leading automobile breakdown service and then in the wills and probate department of a bank - both of which I really enjoyed.

    You have lots of options - you don't have to stay in private practice, and your skill set will be valued whatever you do.
    agathamorse likes this.
  15. jarndyce

    jarndyce Occasional commenter

    Just to point out that I've worked in a number of very 'academic' independent schools, and each of them had a colleague with an LLB. Subjects included Games, History, and French!
  16. simonCOAL

    simonCOAL Occasional commenter

    I understand the point you are making.
    My best mate is a solicitor (something to do with business law).
    When I was head of a smallish school, our hours and pressures were very similar. We’d often compare notes over a few beers.

    The difference? About £50k a year.
    Worth it or not? Difficult to quantify and hard to say, but I envied his ability to get away to some remarkable places to unwind.

    Your decision will need to be based on your philosophy. The advice from posters above is good. As always.
    agathamorse likes this.
  17. catbefriender

    catbefriender Lead commenter

    I would say, finish your training and ask yourself what is it about teaching that really attracts you?

    If you want to help children, you can do so using law in many ways.
    If you want to teach, you could teach law from A level to university.

    What do not like about working in law unfortunately you will find out is the same in most jobs.

    Teachers, lawyers, doctors etc. are individuals with a belief system that is one has to train and get a degree in whatever to be a whatever and one can only be a whatever if one has the training.

    A lot of the multi millionaires haven't got degrees or even a degree in whatever they are doing. So spend some time thinking out of the box and thinking also of career changes that involve zero training. You don't want to add a PGCE to your list of qualifications and still be miserable, do you?

    Now a great time to ask yourself, 'What would I really LOVE to do with my life?' Go on entertain the idea even if it seems totally impossible for therein lies the key to finding happiness through employment.
    agathamorse likes this.

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