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‘Fitting-in’ and ‘Opting-out’: Exploring How Law Students Self-Select Law Firm Employers

Vaughan, S; Rowan, E; (2017) ‘Fitting-in’ and ‘Opting-out’: Exploring How Law Students Self-Select Law Firm Employers. The Law Teacher 10.1080/03069400.2017.1376944. (In press).

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In this paper we draw on interviews with 15 law students at the University of Birmingham in the UK to explore the extent to which law students critically self-evaluate themselves against their perceptions of the preferences of elite law firms. While the small scale of the data set means our conclusions are necessarily tentative, we are able to show how some law students ‘opt-out’ of applying to certain law firms where they perceive there is no fit between themselves and the law firm. Equally, our data also shows that some students are capable of recognising that, despite not having a supplementary fit with a firm (i.e. they can see that they do not ‘match’ that firm’s current crop of lawyers or what they think is the firm’s culture), they realise that they can instead be a complementary fit for the firm, and hence realise that their potential to add something ‘new’ to the law firm (by way of increasing diversity) can secure them a vacation scheme or training contract. Finally, and perhaps somewhat unsurprisingly, a proportion of students play ‘the numbers game’ and, despite determining a law firm ‘misfit’, still proceed to apply to as many law firms as possible on the basis that more applications meant (they thought) a higher chance of success.

Type: Article
Title: ‘Fitting-in’ and ‘Opting-out’: Exploring How Law Students Self-Select Law Firm Employers
DOI: 10.1080/03069400.2017.1376944
Publisher version: http://doi.org/10.1080/03069400.2017.1376944
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Diversity, law students, employment
UCL classification: UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences
UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences > Faculty of Laws
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1573208
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