If you’re interested in pursuing a legal career, it is important to gain some practical experience outside of your studies to really give your applications the edge.
While the Legal Practice Course (LPC) or Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) will involve some practical course work, nothing can get you as acclimatised to work in the legal sector as a job or work experience in a law-related field can.
Taking up some work during the summer breaks while you are studying, during term time, or even before your course begins adds tremendous value to your CV and provides solid proof of your interest and commitment to a legal career.
There’s a huge range of jobs available with relevant legal experience, including short or long term roles, paid services and unpaid volunteer work. Here’s a little rundown of what you could be doing to boost your law CV…
Pro bono work is a first port of call for many to gain some hands-on experience with real cases. Organisations you could get involved with include:
- The Free Representation Unit (FRU)
- The Citizens Advice Bureau
- Pro bono projects in conjunction with your university/law school.
- Local charities e.g. youth mentoring.
Universities and law schools often have pro bono centres with specific projects running in league with law firms. You do not need any rights of audience to participate in voluntary work with the FRU, although you will have to qualify as a certified worker.
Working as a paralegal is another way to bolster your CV credentials. It involves providing administrative support to solicitors and only requires candidates to have completed a law degree. Opportunities can exist anywhere, from your local high street firm to some of the top players in the capital. Remuneration can also be very healthy for this position. Many people choose to be outdoor clerks as a way of gaining court experience and a tidy little income. Clerks attend court proceedings on behalf of solicitors and record the actions of the court.
It can be a good way to widen your understanding of the law and can provide a useful insight into the everyday workings of a barrister. As a clerk you will often need to explain particular legal details to magistrates, who usually have no formal legal training. Within the Court of Appeal, assistants are usually at hand to summarise cases for the judge. Be warned – such jobs are in high demand.
Universities, various institutions and government bodies are always in need of individuals who have knowledge of the law. They offer a number of different legal research positions, and it can be a great way of honing your research skills.
Don’t forget commercial awareness…
Law firms place a great deal of value on the commercial awareness of their trainees. This means that experience in other sectors, such as finance, is increasingly part of the legal work experience package. For example, work at a bank brings you into contact with many law firms’ clients and gives you a real insight into how they work and what their needs are. It’s another string to your CV bow and can really pack a punch when it comes to your applications.
If you're looking for work experience, make sure to head over to our Legal Opportunities section.