Jan 17, 2022

Written By Thomas Cserep

How to find work experience with an in-house legal team

Jan 17, 2022

Written By Thomas Cserep

Working for an in-house legal team allows you to be more than just a solicitor. However, compared to positions at private practices, job openings are hard to come by. Here we have put together a guide to help you find work experience in an in-house setting.  

What does an in-house legal team do?

In-house legal teams form a department within a company. Unlike private practitioners, who have multiple clients, in-house solicitors’ only client is the employer they work for. You will be responsible for providing legal advice to your employer to help the company operate more efficiently.

From making sure that the business complies with regulatory standards to assessing legal risk, in-house solicitors play a vital role in helping companies cut costs and corners within the boundaries of law.

As your advice is used in decision making and helps your employer succeed, in-house lawyers have to possess good commercial awareness, in addition to having a sound knowledge of business.

 

Advertisement

Getting work experience – your options

Legal internships

Legal internships are in-house legal teams’ alternative to law firms’ vacation schemes. Unlike vacation schemes, which only last up to two weeks, legal internships can range from one month to a year. If you are a student still in higher education, the best period to complete a placement would be in the summer holidays. Companies run standard cyclical programmes through the summer breaks that provide work experience for students with their in-house legal team. For internships that are longer than three months, it is advisable to apply if you are taking a break from your studies or if you are on a gap year. 

The tasks you carry out on the internship are similar to the ones on a vacation scheme. You will be shadowing solicitors in the legal team, assisting their work by proofreading documents and doing research on legal matters. 

An internship is a great way to gain exposure to working in the legal industry, more specifically in an in-house environment. It will help you decide whether you would be interested in qualifying as a solicitor and if working in-house is the right legal career pathway for you. 

Legal internship opportunities can be found on the website of companies that have in-house legal departments, or using a search engine. The Law Society, for example, has a useful tool which lets you search for solicitors by geographical location and area of law, revealing firms near you that have practices in areas of law that interest you.

Training contracts

A training contract is the mandatory two year work experience that you need to do to qualify as a lawyer in the UK. This can be completed with a private practice or an in-house legal department. In-house training contracts guarantee a highly rewarding role, as you have the opportunity to support your employer with a variety of legal issues throughout your two year placement. You become an intrinsic cog in the company, as your work supports the operation of the business.

Training contracts with in-house legal departments are highly competitive. Therefore, it may be to your advantage to do a legal internship beforehand to maximise your chances of earning a place on a training contract. 

Use the AllAboutLaw search tool to find training contract opportunities; you can browse by employer, type of firm, or location.

Secondments

You may be able to work in-house on a training contract with a private practice by doing a secondment. During a secondment, your law firm could send you to work in-house with a client for up to six months. This enables you to experience working both in a law firm and in an in-house legal department on the same training contract. 

Get creative 

It’s worth thinking outside the box (a skill that will also help in your legal career) in order to get in-house experience – don't discredit things like local junior assistant roles, or paralegal roles, all of which can be found online. 

 

Staying connected & keeping up to date

Relative to private practice opportunities, getting on an in-house work experience programme can be quite difficult. It is important to know when applications for in-house positions are open so that you don’t miss the deadlines. 

We also recommend that you connect with your university alumni or employees of in-house law firms on social media platforms such as LinkedIn. They can give you valuable advice on how to tailor your application to increase the likelihood of you receiving a job offer. 

Staying connected is important from a networking perspective too. Keep on top of who is in which in-house legal team – using social media tools and following industry news – as well as the latest in-house opportunities.

Reaching out and being part of the industry conversation on platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn as well as attending events (virtual and/or in person) can also start to make a name for yourself and form relationships with those who might end up helping you find opportunities. 

 

 

 

 

 

We know that good in-house work experience opportunities are hard to come by. Our guide should help you find openings with in-house legal departments at different stages of your education and legal training. 

Advertisement

In-House