A what? Yep, you read that right. A law gap year.
“But I thought gap years were where you went travelling around the world, sipping cocktails on a sun lounger in Miami?”
Well, you’re not entirely wrong, but travelling and volunteering aren’t the only options that are available to students wishing to take a gap year.
An increasing number of law firms are offering young people the opportunity to spend a year with them, before they dash off to university. It’s a great way to develop your experience and have something valuable on the ol’ CV, which will come in handy when it comes to applying for vacation schemes and training contracts later on in your career.
What will I do on a law gap year?
Law gap years usually run for about eight or nine months and gives you chance to earn some money (usually around £15,000 pro rata but they will vary from firm to firm and London firms may pay more). And you won’t just be the water boy or sandwich maker either. You’ll work on real projects with lawyers and trainees and will be given mentoring and feedback too.
A law gap year is a chance to develop the important skills that will help you become a top lawyer in the future. Teamwork, research skills, attention to detail are skills that all lawyers possess and you’ll be able to get the head start on your competition by undertaking a law gap year.
You’ll get to sink your teeth into drafting and proof-reading documents, research and getting in touch with clients by phone, email and meetings. It’s often the case that you’ll be doing the same work as a first seat trainee.
Sounds awesome… What’s the catch?
There isn’t one! Unless you count as being committed and motivated about your future career and super clever (we’re talking A* and A grades at A-Level) as a catch? No, didn’t think so.
It’s a tough application process though, firms don’t take in anyone off the street! Inject a bit of personality into your application and be prepared to explain why you want to take a gap year and why you want to follow a career in law.
So yeah, no catch other than the need to be awesome.
When are application deadlines?
You need to apply for a law gap year at the start of the academic year. If you’re applying to universities at the same time, but are certain that you want to undertake a gap year, make sure that you’re able to defer your entry until the following year.
Applications for law gap year programmes usually open around September, with the deadline around the end of November (it can vary depending on which firm you apply to).
Therefore that gives you a full two months to work on your application, research about the firms that you’re applying to and have your application checked over by a careers advisor at your school or college. Like school or college coursework, don’t leave it until the last minute!
What happens after the application?
If your application is up to scratch, you’re likely to be invited to an assessment centre, where you’ll have to undertake some interviews. “Interviews? Why not just one?!” Well, law firms want the best of the best, right? So they’ll put you to the test with an interview on your commercial awareness and also your behaviour.
This doesn’t mean that the law firm wants to see if you will sit cross-legged with your finger on your lips, but rather they’re checking if you have the skills required to undertake a law gap year.
The law gap year is a great opportunity for aspiring lawyers – you get loads of brownie points for your CV, you get real work experience to give your future studies a solid grounding and you earn a tidy amount of money at the same time. What are you waiting for?