We have just come to the end of a really great series of Careers in Focus seminars, held jointly with the Victoria University of Wellington Law Students’ Society and the Faculty of Law. We looked at all those *other* things you can do with your Law degree, from working in small to medium-sized firms, the public sector as policy analysts or in legal roles, as in-house lawyers and in litigation. We heard from some pretty amazing speakers and networked like crazy with some impressive people doing incredible work in the world. One of these impressive people was Rachael Stace, a Policy Advisor with the Ministry of Justice, who left us with the following handout, that I thought was just asking to be turned into a blog.

What to think about:

Where do you want to be? Do you want to be:

  • making the decision?
  • informing the decision maker?
  • implementing the decision?
  • challenging the decision?

What courses have you enjoyed – do you like the detail or the big picture?

What’s your passion (what do you regularly “lose time” doing, what makes you feel energised, what do you like talking to your friends about when you’ve had a glass of wine or two)?

What are your values?

What motivates you, honestly:

  • Working under pressure
  • Satisfying a client
  • Working as a team
  • Recognition in your field
  • Money
  • Prestige
  • Development opportunities

How do you like to work? Do you like responsive rapid and varied work or do you like being able to focus on a single task and seeing it through to completion?

Get familiar with the STAR model (Situation, Task, Action, Result), and focus on the ACTION in response to one task, and the learning rather than the situation.

When looking at a job go beyond the job description, look into the work environment and if possible the team you will be working with.

What to remember:

  1. There is no bell curve after law school – employers want you to succeed. And you will!
  2. You are more than your grades, employers want to see that.
  3. Be genuine in your interviews and testing, employers aren’t just looking at your skills – they’re looking at your personality to see if you will fit in the workplace so be you rather than who you think they want.
  4. The majority of people I know who love their jobs only got there by accident.
  5. It’s your first job, it’s the beginning – relish that and take risks!
  6. Success looks different to other people, find what is going to make you satisfied.
  7. Know that YOU CAN DO THE THING! (Everyone is pretending, promise.)
  8. It’s not necessarily about your grades it’s about those key skills and talents.
  9. EVERYONE LEARNS ON THE JOB, you don’t have to know everything.
  10. You’ve got this far, you can keep going, wherever you want to go.
  11. You will make mistakes, that’s OK. The most important thing is to own and learn from them, don’t try to hide them – you will make it worse if you do. Chances are it’s not as bad as you think.

Rachael Stace
Policy Advisor, Ministry of Justice

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Advice, Career advice

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