• Ayo Abraham

My journey into law and how I almost gave up


My journey into law and how I almost gave up

About me


Hello, my name is Ayo Abraham, and I’m a trainee solicitor at southgate solicitors. I am currently six months into my training contract and specialise in family law.


This might sound cliché, but from a young age I always knew I wanted to go into law – in particular family law. This desire stemmed from my older cousin who pursued a law degree, she truly inspired me.


I’m Nigerian, so naturally my parents wanted me to become a lawyer. I know it would have made them proud but they never forced this particular career on me. In year 10 I did some work experience at K&S Law Solicitors who specialised in family law and this experience solidified my decision to become a lawyer.


University experience


I was so excited to have been accepted onto an LLB at my first-choice university – the University of Leicester. This was my foot in the door to what I thought would be a beautiful start to my career. First year was alright, I got through it. They tell you that your second and third year are the ones that count. For me, they were the most challenging years of my degree, and I wasn’t sure I would make it, but I did!


At the end of the three years, I didn’t get the grade I wanted. I remember results day so clearly – as I opened my results, tears started flowing and I thought this was the end of my journey into the legal profession. I was told that I would need to get a first or a 2:1 to make it as a lawyer. These words stayed with me for a very long time, and I felt embarrassed at the thought of telling people I had studied law and graduated with a 2:2.


Law school experience


Fast forward to post degree, and me starting my Legal Practice Course (LPC). I had just come back from a well-needed and well-deserved holiday in Qatar, and I was super excited to start the LPC.


When I was young, I saw my future playing out in a very different way. It went something like this: getting my degree, obtaining a training contract with a firm that would pay for me to go to law school and finally qualifying as a solicitor. Easy!


Well, that was not the case. I commenced law school with no training contract and no prospect of one. Despite this, I was determined. After all, I had made it to law school.


After law school, I tried to break into the legal industry. For me, the only route to get a training contract was to become a paralegal. I had many interviews as a paralegal but somehow always ended up with the same response: “You don’t have the legal experience”. But it was difficult for me to get the experience if no one was willing to give me a chance.


After a few rejections, I summoned the courage to ask an employer what experience I could do to develop the transferable skills that a paralegal needs. The employer advised me to get some admin experience so I secured a job in a magistrates court, which was where my legal journey began.


Reflection


So how did I get to where I am today? I got here through dedication, perseverance and consistency. I knew that I needed to work hard if I wanted to become a family lawyer and not let my experience limit me. After following the advice above, I eventually secured a job as a childcare paralegal, one year later.


I gained three years’ worth of experience in family law, education and adult law, within the private and public sector. Knowing that my experience could now speak for me, my confidence grew and I made sure that at every opportunity, I pushed myself to learn more, no matter how uncomfortable it was.


Journey to a training contract


But how did I get my training contract? The truth is I almost gave up. I will never forget that one night I actually told myself that I was no longer going to pursue a legal career. It had been five years since I had graduated from university, and it felt like I wasn’t getting anywhere. However, I spoke to a friend who had recently qualified in the same area of law, they encouraged and reminded me that I had worked incredibly hard to get to where I was.


Good news


Through speaking to her and expressing how I felt, she put me in touch with southgate solicitors. Weeks later, after a thorough process, I finally received THAT email.


“Congratulations, we would like to offer you the job as a trainee solicitor.”


As tears fell from my eyes, I thanked God I didn’t give up.


I tell this story to say, despite what your journey to qualifying currently looks like, do not give up. If you know you are called to do this, stick to it and don’t let anything deter you. You will make it. In the meantime, try to network with people because you don’t know who might open the next door for you.


Final thoughts


I hope this article encourages you to stay on this journey. There is so much more to the journey, but one article can’t capture it all. By next year I will be qualified, and this could be you too. Have faith and believe that you will make it. I am always open to connecting and speaking with law students and aspiring lawyers so please feel free to contact with me via LinkedIn.


The contents of this article are general information only. The information in this article is not legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should obtain independent expert advice from qualified solicitors such as those within our firm.

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