Justin Farrance, social mobility ambassador
Did you receive encouragement to pursue your ambitions?
I was always told that the legal industry is very competitive and pursuing a career in law would be difficult. This was partly because I did not have any contacts in the industry.
My parents told me that I can do and achieve whatever I put my mind to.
However, I still knew that there were people who thought it would be an unattainable career path for a young boy coming from a state school in Essex.
With the full encouragement of my parents and sister, I overcame these obstacles and was able to pursue my childhood ambition.
Where did you study law?
I graduated with a business degree from the University of Warwick and completed the law conversion at BPP Waterloo and LPC LLM at BPP Holborn.
Did you encounter any challenges studying law?
Imposter syndrome was something that was not discussed at law school. I felt like everyone was on top of their reading, excelling with preparation work and I felt out of place.
Although there wasn’t any obvious sense of competition amongst my peers, it’s easy to go down the path of comparing yourself to others.
I became less stressed towards the end of my LPC LLM when I spoke openly about imposter syndrome.
It was helpful to be self-aware whenever I was putting myself down and think about trigger points which contributed to that.
What type of law do you specialise in?
I work for Allen & Overy in London and am moving into the third seat of my training contract.
My first seat was in the firm’s corporate mergers and acquisitions team and I supported on a wide variety of deals.
I am currently in the employment team and support on a wide range of matters for our clients.
I’m looking forward to the rest of my training contract to experience other areas of law, before deciding where to specialise.
Why did you want to become a Law Society social mobility ambassador?
At the moment, it’s easy for many students to feel out of place when thinking about a career in law.
If I look at my background, I was state school educated, first generation in my family to attend university and part of the LGBTQ+ community.
I often walked into career networking events or university workshops and felt like there was no one in the room from my background.
I hope to help change that for many students today and show that your background and differences are to be celebrated and seen as a strength.
When I was at university, I was told that I would have to hide my sexuality if I wanted to progress in a City law firm – which is tough (and wrong) to hear as a student.
I want to help widen access to the legal profession through the Law Society and be a visible and active role model to others. I hope to be a social mobility ambassador who encourages people to embrace their differences and see their uniqueness as an asset to be proud of.
If I’m able to achieve that during my time as an ambassador and speak to students from all backgrounds, I will be very happy!
What is the best advice you’ve ever been given regarding your career?
I was told not to compare myself to others and focus on where I’m trying to go.
Taking control of what my goals were and building upon my own strengths helped me both professionally and personally.
I was better able to prioritise my own personal growth and career development and stop focusing on what those around me were doing.
Has your idea of success changed over time in your career?
As a student, my idea of success centred around taking on as much as possible, leaving little room for rest and exhausting myself to keep up with the pace of the highest performing person in the room. I thought this was what success looks like.
I now know that this approach is unsustainable and fails to take into account mental health and longevity.
I now focus on following my own path and having a clear set of short and long-term goals – this helps me remain focused and motivated.
I’ve constructed a better work-life balance which has been reflected in my ability to produce better quality work.
Finally, I’ve realised that a part of being ‘successful’ is to build your own experiences and take advantage of opportunities when presented with them.
Do people have misconceptions about becoming a solicitor?
One misconception about starting as a trainee is that you need to be a ‘ready-made’ package and know as much as possible from day one.
Whilst it’s important to have a base level of knowledge from law school, there is no requirement to know the intricacies of the law on your first day.
Instead, a firm is looking for someone who has a desire to learn, enthusiasm to get involved and the ability to work hard.
What skills would you say are essential for the job?
I’ve realised that the ability to build and retain relationships in work and across your network is key. It’s important to find connections with people and form bonds.
There is also no denying that resilience and adaptability are important skills – now more so than ever.
Contact the ambassadors
If you want to ask an ambassador a question about their career or route into law, email using the address below and include their name in the subject line.