What are the benefits of joining a law society at university?
When it comes to getting the most out of university, graduating with a strong grade in a subject you’re passionate about is important, but joining the law society can also boost your employability and give you vital added experience. Let’s consider the potential benefits to show why getting stuck in will pay off.
Run by students, law societies host a wealth of social events that range from the glamorous law ball to the less formal pub crawl. These are a fantastic way of meeting other motivated and like-minded students beyond your classes – and without resorting to those awkward and stress-inducing icebreaker activities that tutors love to use at the start of the semester!
Not only can you get to know people from other academic years – treasure troves for application tips and revision technique – but also non-law students who have an interest in the legal world.
If you’re studying a non-law subject, networking with law students can help boost your social life – the chance to find lifelong friends whose paths you would not otherwise have crossed – as well as your career journey, making vital connections for the future.
Networking isn’t limited to students. Law societies also give members the chance to hear from and talk to academics and qualified lawyers. Events could take the form of practice area presentations, law fairs and evenings with legal trainees, meaning that you can cherry-pick what interests you and make relevant contacts.
This not only gives you the opportunity to ask questions – such as their thoughts on the solicitor versus barrister route, their experiences with certain law firms and finding out the latest news in specialist areas – but if you make a good impression with a connection, it could lead to vital work experience.
For non-law students, networking could be a useful way of demonstrating your enthusiasm about law. Getting your foot in the door may seem daunting as an “outsider”, but these events make it more accessible.
CV boosting & transferrable skills
Joining a law society can do wonders for your CV and give you excellent material to discuss at interview. For instance, if your involvement is right at the heart of the society – such as being an officer on the executive committee – you can demonstrate time management skills and your trustworthiness in a position of responsibility, alongside more specific achievements relating to the role.
If you do not fancy a sustained commitment like this, then contributing to the society’s law journal or engaging in their pro bono schemes on an ad hoc basis will also give you plenty to draw on when discussing your experience at interview, and won’t take up too much time in the academic year. You could even dabble in multiple programmes to explore options and find the right fit for you – there is no right or wrong answer, and all experience is valuable experience!
Alternatively, occasional activities like student-led moots can be evidence of essential skills such as public speaking, argument forming and active listening. You might enjoy them so much that you enter inter-university competitions through your society, be it for client interviewing, negotiations or criminal advocacy. This would certainly make you stand out from the crowd; even more impressive if you win awards.
Law societies embody the idea that you are not alone. Whatever concerns you have about entering the legal profession, the provisions offered by the society will often help resolve these issues. If you are feeling uncertain about how to handle an interview for an upcoming vacation scheme application, for example, then check out your law society’s interview workshops. Feel like your commercial awareness is lacking? Click on those links to legal news and updates that the society emails to you every week.
Don’t panic if things like this aren’t on offer: talk to the society execs about initiating a mentor scheme, or a commercial awareness monthly newsletter. Putting several heads together can be great for problem solving and knowing that you’ve recognised this and produced a strategy should strengthen your conviction and give you a project to mention on your CV, and resolve your initial issue!