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Havergall Schools Preparing our students for the future since 2001
Havergall SchoolsPreparing our students for the future since 2001 

Study Law

Callum Malone is a Specialist Paralegal for Mastercard. He has previously worked for DLA Piper and Emirates Advocates & Legal Consultants. He studied Law at the University of Newcastle and Commercial Law at BPP Law School. He graduated from Havergall Schools in 2007.

What led you to study Law?

The idea of being a lawyer is an attractive career prospect. Most people envision the perks of the role; financial stability, being a part of a highly respected group of professionals and being able to impress people with a breadth of legal knowledge at parties. In truth, this is what enticed me. Being in the legal industry is a status symbol as much as it is a rewarding profession.

Knowing what you know now, how has your perspective of studying/working in Law changed from when you were at school?

If you intend to study Law as an undergraduate degree at a UK university (Law LL.B), keep in mind that this does not automatically qualify you (or even fully prepare you) for the practical aspects of legal services. Undergraduate degrees in Law are about 95% legal theory and 5% practical application. This is beneficial in the sense that it engrains core legal principles in you, but don’t expect to be able to give any meaningful advice on matters outside of a research paper, such as day-to-day legal questions (which your friends and family will almost certainly bombard you with).

It’s a tired cliché, albeit undoubtedly true, that you should study what truly interests you at undergraduate level. When you consider the scope for taking short conversion courses to law after your unrelated undergraduate degree, you could save yourself a lot of boredom and tedious work.

Whereabouts do/did you study Law? Would you recommend it? What insights would you offer into studying Law in your institution?

I studied at Newcastle University in the UK. It has one of the highest ranked law schools in the UK and is a very lively alternative to the traditional London university offerings.

Did you study straight Law or do a conversion course? How do you feel about your pathway? 

I completed my law degree (Law LL.B) at the undergraduate level then went on to do my Legal Practice Course (LPC) in London. There were many people in my LPC class who had sat conversion courses, as opposed to the LLB. I think I gained a greater breadth of legal knowledge having done the LLB (in comparison to those who had sat conversion courses), but this extra breadth was rarely in an area that actually mattered. For those who study law, you will be surprised (and appalled) at just how little knowledge from your LLB you will use in practice. That being said, if you are seeking to become a barrister (rather than a solicitor), the LLB is an absolute must.

Any suggestions for things people should read/learn before they apply?

Look for barriers to qualification in your area of jurisdiction. The legal industry is highly competitive, with a high volume of graduates seeking a relatively small number of available
training contracts. Particularly if you are seeking to qualify in the UK, keep an open mind about qualifying elsewhere. The US and Australia have systems whereby admission to the bar is granted by passing an exam, rather than completing a mandatory two year training contract.

What skills and requirements make a good lawyer/legal professional in your opinion? How would a prospective law student know if they were well suited to a career in Law?

Much of legal work (on a commercial level) is an exercise in problem solving. Being able to think on your feet and being able to admit when you’ve reached your limit of competence is key. You don’t have to be Harvey Spectre (in fact, you’ll likely make more enemies than friends with such an approach) but you do have to be responsive and have a keen eye for detail. Be prepared to subject yourself to high volumes of very complex work; embrace that, because the reward is worth it.

If you are already working in Law, what is your career like? What do you actually do on a day to day business?

I am a specialist paralegal working for MasterCard in Dubai. In-house roles can vary, but my work at MasterCard involves the review of commercial agreements and assisting commercial negotiations. Like any job, some days can be dull, but others can involve multi-million dollar acquisitions or time-sensitive tenders for business. I have also worked in private practice for DLA Piper. One of the key choices you need to make as a lawyer is whether to work in private practice (a law firm) or in-house (the law department in a commercial business). Private practice work is frenetic.

Every minute of the day is billable and you’ll be exposed to a vast array of clients with an even higher variance of problems. In-house work is less predictable and largely depends on the company you’re with.

However, one of the main pros of in-house is the ability to see a project through from conception to completion. One thing you’ll realize is that no degree can truly prepare you for real-world legal work. I learned more in my first 6 months in the job market than at 4 years of higher study. It’s fast-paced, but very rewarding.

What are your future aspirations? How would you see your career developing?

I intend to sit the California Bar exam next year. After qualification, there are no major barriers to your career progression – it really just depends on how hard you’re willing to push for it. Personally, I don’t see myself working in a law firm, but would rather gain experience and transfer my legal knowledge into a more business oriented role.

If you could share one thing with your younger self about pursuing Law, what would it be?

Telling people you’re studying law at university might help with impressing girls, but don’t overlook the benefits of a conversion course at a later date. Keep your options open and play to your strengths, not clichés for success.