How I got into law after dropping out of school

Rory McDermott left school before he completed his A-levels, but that hasn’t stopped him pursing a career in law. He’s now been working in the conveyancing team for over four years and has the goal of becoming a conveyancer in his sights.

I always wanted to work in law as a career and this influenced my choices at both GCSE and A-Level picking subjects that I knew would be looked upon favourably when I went to university. Then just as I was starting year 13 and my final year at school, I decided that university was not for me and I didn’t want to finish my A-Levels at all, within a week I had dropped out and needed to do something as I was only 17 at the time. My mum wasn’t massively happy when I came home one day and informed her that I had dropped out and didn’t need to go to school anymore - which probably wasn’t a wise decision to do this without letting her know first.

Thanks to a careers fair at my school a few months before I had the contact details for the head of recruitment at Shoosmiths, after some persuasion by my family, I decided to email them asking if they had any opportunities for someone who was fresh from school and sent over a copy of my (very limited) CV. I heard back a few days later and was offered an interview for a position as a Legal Administration Assistant in the Conveyancing department, as well as a Level 2 Legal Administration Apprenticeship. I accepted the interview which was scheduled for a week later. 

I felt the interview went well but, in all honesty, I had no idea if it would come to anything. Whilst walking home from my third lesson at college, I had a phone call offering me the job at Shoosmiths. I accepted the role straight away.

The apprenticeship was brilliant for me, I was able to work every day and earn a wage, whilst also being in a form of education that was useful for me long-term and for the job that I was doing. Once the apprenticeship ended after a year, I was well known by the managers of the administration team and some of the Solicitors and Conveyancers in the department. I worked for another year at Shoosmiths before being promoted to an assistant paralegal in the conveyancing team.

Having been at Shoosmiths for over four years now, I am able to train new starters who join the team, and I have my own case load which I’m responsible for. Some days are hard work but I have found a role in a law firm where I really do enjoy working.  

I have been working hard to develop myself and progress my career, now I have the goal of becoming a conveyancer. I hope to achieve this over the coming years and will be progressing with on-the-job training to work my way towards this goal. This will involve further training on the legal side of my current role and incorporating more advanced learning to ensure I have a full understanding before moving forward.

It’s an exciting time within my department, we have recently rebranded the entire conveyancing department to Swiitch Law, still very much a part of Shoosmiths but under a different name. We hope this will drive our department to be more of a leading light within the world of conveyancing whilst still remaining a key part of Shoosmiths.

If you don’t feel that studying suits you, then you don’t need to force yourself through A-Levels and University, and the sooner you make the decision, the easier it will be to find a role that’s suited to your strengths where you can grow and develop. I know lots of people who went to university because they got accepted and not because they wanted to go, they weren’t happy, and some ended up dropping out anyway.

There are other options for me to further my education via higher level apprenticeships while working at Shoosmiths, but these aren’t right for me just now. I am comfortable knowing that, even with my level of education, there are still opportunities for me to progress within the firm to a senior level, through hard work, experience and by developing myself in other ways. 

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This information is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given. Please contact us for specific advice on your circumstances. © Shoosmiths LLP 2024.



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