Working in Londons West End means theres no escaping the fact that Christmas is now just weeks away. It seems no matter which way I turn Crimbo is staring right back at me, mostly in the form of shoppers who make the annual pilgrimage to Oxford Street.
I really admire these people, because Im never that organised and always leave my Christmas shopping until the last minute. These days, however, this can be advantageous, because most shops now launch their January sales on 24 December, leaving just enough time for me to pick up some half-price bargains for my future mother-in-law.
So what has Christmas shopping got to do with training as a lawyer? The honest answer is nothing. But I couldnt think of any other way of sexing up application forms. That said, theres a serious lesson to be learnt from the early birds.
As one graduate recruitment manager pointed out to me last week, its really important to get your application forms for vacation placements in early, because most recruiters wont wait until the closing date before making offers. So if you havent already started, then youd better get your act together, because firms are already accepting applications.
Although its important to get your vacation application forms in nice and early, dont be tempted to cut corners. Competition for vacation scheme places is just as fierce, if not more so, than securing a training contract.
Meanwhile, if youre in the final year of your degree youll need to start thinking about applying for the LPC. You need to do this through the Central Applications Board (www.lawcabs.ac.uk), even if your place is being sponsored by your future employer. The deadline is 3 December 2007 if you want your application to be considered in the initial stage. Applications received after this date will only be looked at by LPC providers who still have places to fill. And dont forget that your academic reference also needs to be received by the CAB by the same date.
But before you rush to complete your LPC application form its worth asking yourself whether you should embark on the year-long vocational course in the absence of sponsorship and/or a training contract. Anne Petrie, a careers adviser at the College of Law, tackles this issue in this weeks Donoghues Snail.
As youll see from Petries response, theres no right or wrong answer to this question. My view is that, if you can afford the astronomical fees, then you should fund the LPC yourself, because its not uncommon for students to pick up training contracts while on the course. If youre still without a job at the end of the LPC, completing the course might help you secure a paralegal position, which will give you some valuable work experience and your finances a much-needed boost. And you never know: one thing might lead to another and you might even secure that elusive training contract.
But whatever you decide to do, its important to manage your expectations. Thats what I try to do at Christmas. That way I wont be disappointed when I open my boyfriends presents and don't find an engagement ring.