What is Cake & Counsel?
In a nutshell this is an “informal legal networking platform”. The main target market is young aspiring lawyers & law students. It seeks to address one huge need – peer networking! We encourage discussions & provide advice about developing their legal careers & their well-being. I find that in the legal profession, we have a lot of talks/lectures/panels & professional networking events where we’re all competing to speak to the few more established/senior lawyers and may not necessarily know how to approach them. Furthermore, their advice will not be as relevant as that of someone who is closer to our “level’. Someone who would have more recently been through similar experiences to ourselves. For example, speaking to someone who has just finished their LPC or BPTC will be more beneficial in certain aspects (i.e. revision, assessments, applications) to a first or second year law student than a solicitor or barrister of over 20 years call. They don’t need to be well established barristers/solicitors to help you, nor you them.
(Of course we will still seek the advice and attendance of more established lawyers too. They are still very useful for other hints and tips!)
How did it start?
Just over a year ago I had an idea to host a small “tea party”, just to speak to a few ladies interested in becoming lawyers and see if we could help each other along the journey. This is because although I felt that my journey was just a regular journey into law, I didn’t realise there were so many young people (women in particular) that needed to see someone just like them pursuing a career they strove for but doubted they would make it into. I began receiving messages thanking me for posting my journey (I was going through pupillage at the time that I made my public profile on Instagram), asking for advice or just general questions about how I reached where I did. It became apparent that there is still so much more we can do in the legal field in terms of access and that although I didn’t feel ‘accomplished enough’, I could still share what bits I’d learnt along the way, and so could many others in similar positions. ‘Cake & Counsel’ is a small take at helping to address this and means that multiple people can share and receive advice at the same time. I hope this platform serves its purpose and helps prepare and nurture young, diverse talent in the legal industry.
Why is it necessary?
In around Year 10, a group of friends and I were walking along a corridor at school to our next class. We passed a room where a police officer was tidying up. Being our usual curious selves, we went in and spoke with him. He asked us what we wanted to become and we told him various things. When I told him that I aspired to become a lawyer, he said ‘ooh with law – it’s not what you know, it’s who you know’. I didn’t full comprehend it then. This was the first time I had heard it, but it stuck with me. When pursuing my career in law I began to really understand exactly what that officer meant all those years ago!
Various experiences over the years showed me that this is still true to a certain extent. It is no longer a club where you can only get in if you know someone. It is also no guarantee that you will get in just because you know someone… but it helps (bear with me to hear my take on it). Yes, you will get places on merit and of your own volition. However, having great contacts, friends and people who will be able to give you guidance, recommendations and opportunities really makes a difference. This is what I mean by who you know! You may be great on paper, but if a friend doesn’t send you the link to a fantastic job, you will miss out on that opportunity! That is, in fact, how I got my first legal assistant role (shout out to Leon!). Or if you are able to ‘mock interview’ and question your friends as you apply for pupillage, you will give yourselves an advantage.
I mean, look at the last event. I am so grateful to people who shared the event, whether you signed up and attended, posted it, recommended it, told friends about it etc. That is the power of networking and having great contacts within your network.
Why the name?
I like alliteration and play on words. I wanted it to show that it would be safe environment where you could relax, I mean, many people meet for first dates or professional first meetings over “coffee” nowadays. It takes a lot of the pressure off!
The choice of the word ‘counsel’ was two-fold. As a barrister, your official title will be Mr or Mrs/Ms. X of counsel. However, this is not to preclude aspiring solicitors, paralegals etc. from attending. It is for anyone interested in a legal career. Also, with Cake & Counsel, I wanted the network to provide the wellness aspect. It can be stressful at times so hopefully the events and people that you meet, will be able to counsel you in a way that you feel supported and safe in your pursuit/career in law.
How can I get involved?
Cake & Counsel is for anyone who is interested in a career in the law. Please keep a look out on our various platforms or send me an email if you would like to offer assistance or suggest events.
The aim is to host small events throughout the year, they will be on specific topics such as training contract/pupillage applications and interviews etc. There will also be two larger ‘speed networking’ or general networking events each year. Providing you with the opportunity to mingle in an informal environment with other aspiring and practising lawyers and friends.
Social media pages
Instagram – @legallyruthie
Twitter – @legallyruthie
Blog – legallyruthie.wordpress.com
Facebook – Cake & Counsel
Eventbrite – search ‘Cake & Counsel’