Becoming The Modern Lawyer: An Interview with Simon Price

simon-priceSimon Price has inspired over 2500 law students across the country via The Modern Lawyer workshop.

It’s a unique peak performance and employability workshop about how students can think strategically about their career and maximise their potential.

I caught up with Simon and asked him to share some of his wisdom.

The Interview

Matt: When you are delivering “The Modern Lawyer” workshops, what are the key areas you find students need to work on?

Simon: I have delivered the Modern Lawyer to thousands of law students of all levels (LLB, GDL, LPC) at numerous law schools across the county and a couple of areas crop up consistently.

The first is having confidence in your ability to succeed. This is not arrogance, but a firmly held belief that knowing you have worked hard and maximised your potential, you will be successful.

It may not be on your 1st or even your 10th application, but you will succeed. Of course, you need to have the necessary academic qualifications, but that is just one aspect of being a lawyer.

“Doing something you value will bring the best out of you. Confidence and professionalism are behaviours that are both situational and learnable”

The second area students should focus on is strongly linked to the first aspect and that is developing a resilient mindset.

Almost every aspiring lawyer will suffer a setback in their career and being able to learn from every experience in terms of how it equips us for the future is extremely important.

Matt: What do you see as the main things that are preventing many candidates from being successful in securing a training contract at this moment?

Simon: Everyone is different and I think students often get caught up in trying to be something that is incongruent with whom they are or trying to be like the person next to them. During the Modern Lawyer workshops, I challenge people to tell me what makes them great.

That is a tough question, but it forces people to undertake personal reflection and people are often astounded by what their answer to the question reveals.

Matt: What are the key strategic things students need to think about in respect of their potential future career as a solicitor?

Simon: Students need to have clear goals for their career. Not just a generic “in 3 years I want to be a lawyer” – be more specific. “I want to be a lawyer working in Leeds, working for a firm specialising in litigation”.

The latter is much more achievable because you can build a plan that you can measure your performance against. I challenge students to take action every day towards their goals. This breaks something that appears unachievable into something much more manageable.

Matt: How can those aspiring to get a training contract differentiate themselves to stand out from the crowd of other candidates?

Simon: Our personal narrative is our most effective differentiator, yet is often not embraced as people seek to become the same as everyone else.

During the Modern Lawyer I tell the students to embrace their own story as we can only start from where we are and where we have been.

If you did not get good grades at A’level or did not go to such and such a University then that is personal narrative. You then need to decide where you want to go and how you are going to get there.

Yet, I often get students telling me that they are no good because of some perceived “failure”. That is the wrong starting point. Focus on what you are great at and start from there.

Matt: Certain ‘soft skills’ such as confidence and professionalism are now extremely important for potential trainees. How would you recommend candidates practically develop these skills?

Simon: A good way to develop confidence and professionalism is to get involved in projects that you are passionate about. Doing something you value will bring the best out of you. Confidence and professionalism are behaviours that are both situational and learnable. The more you practice exhibiting the behaviours you want to show people, the easier it will be to demonstrate them in an interview situation.

Matt: An issue I encounter regularly is that students don’t fully know what they want to do in their careers. What would you recommend they do to gain some clarity around this?

Simon: Attend a Modern Lawyer workshop of course! I often conduct an exercise called Time Machine during which I ask the students to imagine themselves in 5 years time.

I ask them where they will be, what type of firm and a series of other questions to help them create a career destination. People are often surprised by what answers they give when they write something down.

Matt: I find that many candidates believe they will fail before they even start with their training contract applications? What should they do in order to create a more successful mindset?

Simon: A key element of crafting our personal narrative is celebrating our successes to date. This builds confidence and helps you develop a successful mindset. Also, have a clear understanding of what success means to you individually and do not rely on someone else’s definition.

Matt: Could you outline what you think are the 3 key things that make up a successful training contract application (excluding academics).

Simon: Being clear about your own personal narrative and how it makes you stand out;

Being clear about what your career destination is;

Being yourself.

About Simon Price & The Modern Lawyer

Simon is an experienced commercial disputes lawyer and has been described as “an intelligent advocate for widening participation in the law and an inspirational role model for values-driven behaviour.”

Simon passionately believes in the importance of developing the next generation of leaders. He has delivered his award-winning Modern Lawyer workshop to thousands of graduates as a visiting speaker at numerous universities in the UK. The workshop has been described as a “new approach to success in law”, “inspirational” and “simply mind-blowing”. Simon devised, developed and delivers DWF’s award-winning community engagement programme 5 STAR Futures.

The programme is committed to developing the next generation of leaders through the celebration of personal narrative and collaborative community knowledge sharing to make a sustainable and measurable impact on communities.

Matt Oliver

Matt is a former FTSE 100 in-house lawyer, an experienced legal career coach and MD of Trainee Solicitor Surgery. He provides entry level law careers advice to students and graduates through his writing and mentoring. He also offers private one to one coaching to those struggling with training contract, vacation scheme or paralegal applications and interviews. Find out more about Matt's 1-2-1 Coaching >>>>

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