What does shadowing a solicitor involve?
Here, we will explain what is involved in shadowing a solicitor and how this can be a beneficial addition to your legal experience.
What is shadowing?
Shadowing is quite a relaxed form of work experience. It allows you to gain a first-hand insight into the working life of a lawyer. Unlike hands-on, practical work experience, shadowing offers a more back-seat approach, as you instead observe professionals do their daily tasks.
It also allows you to see how different employees within a law firm work together. For example, how solicitors work with paralegals or legal assistants in their day-to-day tasks, or alternatively, their engagement with court staff.
Is it paid?
Most shadowing experiences are voluntary and unpaid. They also often only last a few days, unlike work experiences that take place over a couple of weeks.
What are the benefits of shadowing?
It provides a realistic insight into the firm. Rather than a structured hands-on work experience, you instead see the real, unfiltered routine of the working solicitor and the daily tasks they do. It allows you to see the sort of stress or pressure a solicitor may face.
Shadowing provides an excellent opportunity to engage with employees at the firm and build strong connections which you can hopefully utilise in the future.
It is an excellent addition to your CV, especially if you are hoping to pursue a career or apply for work experience with the specific firm you are shadowing at.
Shadowing can provide a great opportunity for those who are unsure what route they want to go down. For example, you may be deciding whether you want to become a solicitor or barrister. By shadowing each, you can gain useful guidance as to which will best suit you.
Shadowing can also enhance your ability to converse with solicitors and other legal professionals, helping to build your confidence to communicate within a legal environment.
How do I apply to shadow?
Many shadowing opportunities are not as widely advertised as regular work experience or internship placements are. Rather, they often rely on your willingness to enquire with different law firms.
A great place to start is by emailing the relevant employee or Head of HR at the firm to ask if they offer the opportunity to shadow, along with a copy of your CV and cover letter. Within your email explain why you want to shadow the individual, your interest in the specific firm, and what you hope to gain from the experience
How do I make the most of shadowing a solicitor?
Be sure to make notes throughout your time at the firm. Don't be afraid to ask questions - the more information you can gain, the better!
It could be particularly useful to note what they look for in prospective trainee solicitors. You can then utilise this if you are hoping to apply for working experience with the firm in the future.
Your experience will be particularly advantageous if you stay in contact with your solicitor or other employees you may meet throughout the duration of your experience. Connecting with them on LinkedIn is a great way to do this.
How do I make a good impression?
Be enthusiastic! Be sure to show a willingness to learn and develop new skills. In doing so you will show to the solicitor that you are a keen, avid learner, which is a very appealing characteristic to employers. Another way to show you are engaging well with the experience is by making notes.
Make sure to contact the solicitor and firm after to thank them for the opportunity. In doing so, you are helping to make a lasting impression and increasing the chance they will remember you if you later apply for a role at the same firm.
Legal Work Experience