The first Success Story of 2020 is brought to you by Owen Griffiths and as quite a few clients have asked us recently about entering the legal profession, we thought this would be a good example of a potential route to take. Enjoy.
When did you decide to leave, and why?
I decided to leave the police at the beginning of 2013. I had worked with fraud lawyers on a complex carer abuse investigation and the intellectual challenge of making a move into law really appealed to me, alongside the chance to work in business. In a time of austerity, I also felt that career development opportunities in policing were likely to be more limited in the future than they had been in the past.
What are you doing now?
I am a third seat trainee solicitor working in the corporate department of a London law firm.
What had you been doing in the police?
I worked as a detective and at the time I began to consider a career change I was working in the Community Safety Unit in Lambeth, specialising in domestic violence investigations and public protection. Prior to this, I had spent several years working as a response officer. During the retraining process I moved into specialist roles, investigating organised crime, undertaking national investigations and also completing a spell doing project support for the Met’s remodelling team.
How did you find another job?
I actually began by studying the Graduate Diploma in Law, which is the conversion course that graduates need to take to give them a foundation in academic law. I took this part-time whilst continuing to work full-time in the police. I then began to apply for jobs upon completing the course. To be a solicitor you need to complete a training contract and these applications involve applying direct to firms, usually online. There is then a range of assessments, such as interviews and psychometric tests, that candidates take before they are offered a job as a trainee. I was offered my current position in the summer of 2017 and was fortunate to then receive funding from my firm for the Legal Practice Course, the professional qualification needed to practise as a solicitor, which I completed the following year.
What do you miss? What don't you miss?
Policing is very unpredictable and not knowing what you are going to do each day is a great feature of the work. Helping victims and getting a good result at court is also very rewarding. I am lucky to
have kept my friends from policing so in that sense I still feel like I know the great people in it. I don’t miss the shift work.
What advice would you give others?
I think the first thing I would advise others is to take confidence from what you have already achieved. Policing is an incredibly demanding career that requires physical and emotional resilience, hard work, compassion and creativity, as officers confront unique circumstances on a daily basis. In respect of making a change I would always recommend starting with reviewing your own skill set and looking at what you are good at. I read English at university and then worked as a financial investigator in the police. I felt that having a good academic background and demonstrating a strong attention to detail as an investigator would translate well to law.
Whatever the industry you want to target, have a look at the core qualities employers in that area look for, and also try and gain some work experience in that sector. As a career changer you may know some established professionals in that area that you can gain advice from to help you make the transition. Fundamentally I would say be positive, outgoing and have self-belief that you can get to where you want to go.