Jul 16, 2019

Written By David Carnes

First-year opportunities: the basics

Jul 16, 2019

Written By David Carnes

As a first-year LLB student, you may be eager to get involved in law beyond the lecture theatre as soon as you can—and that’s just the right attitude. Although first-year students aren’t eligible for training contracts or for most vacation schemes, there are a lot of tailored opportunities that you might be able to get involved in. Keep reading for a rundown of some of these opportunities.  

Law firm open days

A law firm open day is your chance to get inside a law firm from your first year onwards. The name is slightly deceiving, as some law firm open days last for longer than just a day, spanning two days, in which you might:

 Receive an introduction to the firm and its practice;

Undergo various exercises involving, for example, negotiation or networking;

Have lunch with trainees, solicitors and partners;

Attend a Q&A session;

Take a tour of the firm’s offices;

“Shadow” a trainee for part of a workday.

 

Since each firm is responsible for designing its own programme, schedules and opportunities differ from firm to firm. These events take place once or more a year, and they are competitive. If you’re interested, you need to decide on a firm (or firms), look up their website, and follow their application instructions. You can also check out a range of open days over on our jobs page—use the search tool to narrow down the relevant options!

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First-year insight schemes

There is no clear dividing line between an “insight scheme” and an “open day”—a lot depends on how the firm characterises what it’s doing. When an event is characterised as an “insight scheme”, it may be more comprehensive than an open day—it may last two or even three days, and you may be given the opportunity to gain more extensive involvement in the firm’s work. 

 Insight schemes may also be designed to mimic vacation schemes, introducing some elements of a traditional vacation scheme at the first-year level. There might even be progression opportunities, such as the option to interview for a vacation scheme. 

 If in doubt, check the firm’s website for a detailed description of the event instead of getting caught up in what it’s called. As with open days, you’ll also find some first-year insight schemes listed on our website. 

University campus ambassador positions

A campus ambassador for a law firm is a student charged with the responsibility of representing the firm on campus, in particular with respect to its recruiting efforts. These positions are very competitive—in addition to a strong academic record, you need exceptionally good communication skills. Many of these positions are paid, although the actual amount will probably not equal what you could earn working part-time at a restaurant.

 Serving as a campus ambassador is an excellent way to put yourself on the shortlist for a vacation scheme or a training contract, especially with the firm that hires you. The long-term career benefits can be extraordinary—after all, you will be recruiting, a job that’s similar to the “rainmaker” function of a top partner who brings in clients to the firm. If communication is your strong point, don’t ignore such an opportunity—we have a few campus ambassador positions over on the jobs board. 

Informal work experience

Informal work experience could be looked at as an addition, rather than an alternative, to insight schemes or a campus ambassador position. You might try, for example, volunteering for pro bono work at your university’s law centre, or seeking part-time employment in the legal department of a local company. Anything that enhances your skills is worth doing—joining a debating club, for example, might not qualify as a “job”, but it will give you valuable experience.

 This is only a partial list of potential opportunities that might be available to you. Try thinking outside the box a bit, and you might just stumble upon a uniquely wonderful opportunity that no one else has even thought of.

Next article: First-year insight schemes 

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First Year Opportunities