My Work Experience By Abbie Armstrong

They always say that work experience is essential for most professions, and Law is no exception. However, I don’t think I fully appreciated its utility until undertaking a week’s work experience at Aston Bond.

Upon arrival, I was given a tour of the office, introduced to each member of staff and provided with my very own desk! Throughout the rest of my week, owing to the friendliness of the staff and their willingness to enhance my experience, I was able to shadow solicitors, attend client meetings and court hearings. To a 17 year old, with little legal knowledge and experience, this was greatly appreciated due to the exciting developments that often matched the (apparently incorrect) portrayal of the career in the media and TV. In addition, between these events, I was given tasks that tested my legal understanding and enriched my knowledge of a solicitor’s role. As a result, I was able to learn the daily routine of lawyers, the types of work undertaken, and importantly, the significance of CEO Stephen Puri’s birthday to the staff calendar.

This time was vital in determining if I enjoyed and am suited to a career in law- as well as deciding whether to take a law degree in the short term. Moreover, it should prove useful in showing dedication to the field  in the future. I would thoroughly recommend this experience to those interested in becoming a lawyer or learning more about the career, and I would like to thank the team at Aston Bond for making my experience so useful and enjoyable.   

Thank you again for the experience, it is very appreciated and has been so useful!

What do you know about References?

Applying for a new job can be tiring and stressful especially when employers do not reply back whether or not you have been successful for an interview or not. CVs require your personal details, about you as a person, what you’re hoping to achieve/become, education, dates and work experience background. But what about your references?

Most people at the end of their CV would write ‘references available on request’, which is absolutely fine because some employers don’t always ask for references, but when they do, it can be a tricky one. People tend to believe that ‘employers cannot give you a bad reference; it’s illegal’. This isn’t the case. Many people don’t know where they stand legally when it comes to references. Here are the most common questions asked about references.

Does my boss/company have to give me a reference?
No they don’t. Your current/previous employer is under no legal obligation to give you a reference.

Can my employer give me a bad reference?
Yes and no. As said before, numerous people believe that your boss cannot give you a bad reference by law, but that’s not entirely true. References have to be accurate and truthful. This means if you had a discipline in your previous job or have had multiple written warnings then your boss has every right to write this in your reference. However, most employers are afraid to give negative references in case they are sued. It has now become increasingly common for employers to refuse to state anything more than job role/title and employment dates. This is known as a factual reference – essentially giving nothing more than the bare facts.

Can I see what is written in my reference?
When you start working for your new employer, you can ask them for a copy of your reference that has been given to them by your previous employers. This comes under the Data Protection Act which states that you have every right to any information held about you. Your previous employer however is under no duty to show you a copy prior to sending it out to a new employer.

How do I make sure my reference is good?
You can never be 100% sure that your reference will be good. Just make sure when leaving your job to leave on a good terms with your boss. They don’t legally have to tell you what they have written in your reference but you can always ask! If you think there may be a problem, it is always best to speak to your boss directly rather than avoiding the issue.

What if this is my first job?
If you don’t have a previous employer, you can use two personal references. To get the best of using two personal references, choose someone that you know is reliable and that you have known them for at least five years. Ideally, they will also be a “professional” –for instance a doctor, lawyer, accountant etc. You could also use your teacher or a lecturer at university/school.

It’s no wonder why people get so confused about references . Hopefully, our short guide has now put your mind to rest!

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Aston Bond – The London Legal Walk Team 2016

On 16th May 2016, Aston Bond participated in The London Legal Walk to raise money and awareness for people that volunteer to help people obtain legal advice and representation when they otherwise would not be able to.

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There were as many at 618 teams walking the 10km walk. Luckily for us, the day was dry and super sunny. We walked along Southbank through Hyde Park, walked past Buckingham Palace (her Majesty the Queen was not in that day unfortunately) and through Charing Cross. The walk didn’t even seem that long due to the lovely weather. We also stopped at The Serpentine Café for a cheeky ice cream and a drink – it’s always traditional in England to have an ice cream when the sun is out.

Continue reading “Aston Bond – The London Legal Walk Team 2016”

Law Degree- Is it what you think it is?

It’s no surprise that students are shying away from going to university.  They are fully aware that they will be in debt, sometimes to the tune of six-figures for  a large part of their lives afterwards. Having a law degree on your CV may sound prestigious and professional, but what do these law students have to go through to get their degree? And are they guaranteed a job after university? Students have heard of aspiring  lawyers’ being jobless and in debt which has stopped students from applying. Even after completion of the degree, there is still a requirement to attend a higher education college in order to undertake a full year of further, vocational training to become either a solicitor or a barrister.

Students that study Law at A-Level may find the topic interesting but may sometimes not quite appreciate the commitment and change from A-Levels to a University degree. First year university students may often think that they are going to be partying most of the time and the independency of living without parents sounds very tempting but that is a far cry from the reality of how much work is actually required.  Furthermore, the top law firms in the UK do look at which university the student has graduated from. Below is a list of ‘The Top 10 Universities 2017’ in the country to study law along with what A-Level grades you need to be accepted:

10. University of Nottingham- A*AA + LNA

9. University of Bristol- AAA/A*B + LNAT

8. University of Edinburgh- AAA/AAB

7. Durham University- A*AA + LNAT

6. University of Glasgow- AAA/BBB

5. King’s College London- A*AA

4. London Scholl of Economics and Political Science- A*AA

3. University College London-A*AA + LNAT

2. University of Oxford- AAA

1. University of Cambridge- A*AA


How does a Law Degree work?

Students across the country are currently trying their hardest to get the best grades at A-Level.  Their next steps will be decide which law degree to study.  The standard law degree takes three years to complete. Within those three years, you’ll have to do one year of core subjects which are mandatory, then your last two years of the different types of law you choose to study from a number of electives. Want to go abroad? Well you can. You can study foreign law which will take place in your last year at university in the country of your choice, but then you will have to come back for the fourth year and finish your studies in the UK.

After a law degree, to become a solicitor, students will have to undertake the Legal Practice Course and land a training contract (which in itself is no mean feat).  Student’s then face the problem of finding a training contract – in a time where law firms have been reducing the number of training contracts (or pupillages in barrister’s chambers) with some law firms even cancelling their next trainee intake altogether.  A training contract lasts for two years and is effectively “on-the-job” training at firms authorised to undertake such training.  The trainees will have to rotate within the firm and learn about the differing areas of law before they qualify as a fully fledged solicitor.

Students’ opinions:

Law students have been using an anonymous messaging service called ‘Whisper’ to discuss what it is like to be a law student. Here are some of the quotes:

‘Giving to law school is the worse decision I have ever made. I’m miserable, have soul crushing debt and no job aspects.’

‘I thought law school would get me a good job, not put me so deep in debt, I couldn’t afford to eat.’

‘People think I’m selfish for not wanting children, but considering the loans I’ll need to take to get through law school and how bleak the future looks, it makes sense not to have kids.’

Useful tips before starting your law degree:

It is important for students to prepare themselves before starting their law degree, you need to be aware of the amount of commitment and time you will be dedicating to the degree. Here is what to expect when studying and some useful tips:

  • There is a lot of reading
  • Commit to lectures + 26 hours of studying
  • Need to be well organised, work smart and work hard- the more organised you are, the easier it will be to study.
  • Everyone will try to pawn for legal advice from you
  • Intense: you will end up competing with your law friends and other students for the best grade & for the training contracts available!
  • Books will cost you – try and save as much money as you can
  • Students often aren’t fully prepared for the big difference between A-Levels and University – ask yourself are you fully committed to the degree and if not do something that you have and will have the passion and commitment for.

Even though it may seem tough, don’t be put off. Having a law degree and becoming a lawyer can be rewarding and satisfying. You also have job security once qualified. Determination and passion is also key for success. Like any other degree if you work hard, you’ll get what you want in life. Just make sure you prepare yourself.