What is the difference between a referee and a reference?
A referee is a person who knows you, either in a professional or a personal capacity. A reference is an account of your personal or professional behaviour, provided to a prospective employer by your referee. A reference could be a written document that outlines your abilities. Or, the employer may contact the referee to ask some specific questions over the phone.
So references and referees are different, but they're certainly linked!
Who should I get to be my referee/s?
In a perfect world, it would be someone who thinks you're the best thing since sliced bread - like your mum or your best friend. But as much as you'd probably have a glowing, five page account of the day you took your first steps, or that time when you intercepted the drama on the group chat - using your nearest and dearest as referees doesn't exactly scream professionalism. Instead, consider these:
Reach out to your personal tutor, or a faculty staff member that knows you well, to see if they would mind acting as a referee. Quite often universities have a system in place where they keep a record of extracurriculur and academic achievements. This means that they'll always be on hand to provide you with a good reference.
Rather than opting for your Uncle Mike or the guy who's always on your bus, try to pick someone who holds a respected position within the community, such as a youth worker. They will have to have known you for quite a long time; three years or more is preferable. It's likely that employers will look for a personal referee if they want a character reference - an evaluation of your conduct in personal situations.
Ideally, this should be someone you've done professional, law-related work experience with: a solicitor who you shadowed or someone who you reported to within a firm or office. But don't worry if you've not got something that screams "law" to put down for this one. If you've got work experience in a sector other than law, or if you've had a part-time job, you will be able to use a supervisor from either as a work referee.
How do I get someone to be my referee?
This is the golden rule of referencing: make sure you ask them first. Not only is it polite to check it's ok before sharing your referee's contact details with a prospective employer, it also could work massively in your favour. A referee that knows they are a referee will have time to prepare a glowing account of you, and will know you as a polite, courteous person who asked first. On the flipside, a person who only finds out that they're a referee when the recruiter calls to ask about you is going to be suprised at best, and hacked off at worst.
If you are applying to work at a company you’ve worked at before, it is advisable to put a different reference. They will have an internal referencing service!