The effects of the Covid-19 pandemic have laid bare the disparities in the opportunities for students to get into the legal profession. With some work experience and vacation schemes cancelled, aspiring solicitors will have missed out on what will have been a crucial period as they began to forge their legal careers.
Clifford Chance’s new Global Virtual Internships and Events Hub addresses that issue by widening access to top-level legal work experience, offering free programmes and online events to all those interested in pursuing law as a career.
What do Global Virtual Internships consist of?
Traditionally, vacation schemes at law firms have been seen as an exclusive prospect, only open to candidates who meet the criteria. However, Clifford Chance has recognised the crucial role that internships can play in facilitating social mobility by allowing all aspiring lawyers, whatever their background, to get a taste of what it’s like to work in a Magic Circle environment.
The chance to undergo a work placement, especially at a firm of international stature, will be invaluable to students who would have otherwise had a limited pool of opportunities open to them. This is especially the case in the midst of a pandemic, in which not everyone finds themselves in the same circumstances at home.
Laura Yeates, Clifford Chance Head of Graduate Talent, said "Students are making career decisions earlier in their academic journeys and are increasingly looking for international opportunities, so law firms have had to amend their processes quickly to better cater to their needs.
"By hosting the internship online and making it accessible to a wider audience, we expect the participants to be the most internationally and socio-economically diverse group of students that we have ever welcomed. By removing any financial or physical constraints on the students' participation we are offering a programme and introduction to law that is both internationally-focused and accessible to all."
Clifford Chance has drawn on expertise from its network around the world, while collaborating with the University of York, to deliver a virtual internship that could be the launchpad for a career in law.
These programmes will consist of a series of tasks which mirror those of a trainee solicitor, supported by video tutorials from one of the firm’s employees as students cover a range of skills and topics. What’s more, students can complete tasks in their own time; it’s estimated that each will take 5-6 hours, and students will have access to model answers on finishing the assignments.
Three internships are on offer, with each one tailored to an emerging area that will shape the near future of the legal sector:
- Cyber Security;
- Climate Change;
- Business and Human Rights.
In practical terms, these programmes will look to develop legal skills such as business awareness, legal drafting and risk assessment, as well as transferable skills in communication, research and analysis.
Students will receive a certificate of completion and will be able to use the experience when applying for future roles, whilst putting themselves on Clifford Chance’s radar.
The Events Hub - get insight on the latest developments at top law firms
On top of this, Clifford Chance has launched its Events Hub, consisting of a series of virtual sessions that will help you get an insight into the way the firm is run, all from the comfort of your home with no geographical constraints.
From virtual law fairs and skills sessions, to Black History Month events and dedicated sessions for LGBT+ prospective lawyers, these sessions look to engage students from a range of different backgrounds and broaden participation and representation in the legal sector.
Students can sign up for the events up to a week ahead of the event. These events provide the unique opportunity to gain an understanding of work at a law firm, and allow students to get a head start on their future career.
Opening up law for all backgrounds
Ultimately, both the Events Hub and Global Virtual Internships are an ideal way for students at any level of study to gain the all-important experience of the work trainees solicitors do. By opening up this opportunity to all students, regardless of background, Clifford Chance wants to equip the new generation of lawyers with the skills and knowledge in an ever-changing commercial landscape.
In doing so, the firm reinforces a commitment to diversifying and democratising the profession, pushing the legal sector to the forefront as an actor of social mobility.