Jul 11, 2022

Written By Thomas Cserep

Why do you need legal work experience?

Jul 11, 2022

Written By Thomas Cserep

Work experience opportunities in the legal industry come in all shapes and sizes. However, one thing that they all have in common is that they help you develop your career prospects as a solicitor in multiple ways.

What kind of work experience options are there?

As an aspiring solicitor, you can consider a wide range of work experience options depending on where you are in your legal education.

In order to get a flavour of the legal profession, undergraduate students are advised to get onto a vacation scheme. These are internships at law firms that last around a week or two and usually take place during the Winter, Spring and Summer breaks of the academic year.

Vacation schemes allow students who are interested in law to gain an insight into the industry by shadowing lawyers and carrying out tasks such as proofreading legal documents and conducting legal research.

If you are an undergraduate, a vacation scheme is an excellent opportunity to dip your toes into life at a law firm and help you decide whether a legal career is really for you. It is also an invaluable addition to your CV, which will come in handy when you are applying to enrol on the PGDL or future work experience.

If you have completed your undergraduate degree and you are on a postgraduate course to qualify as a solicitor, you will have to do a training contract or qualifying work experience, depending on whether you are on the LPC pathway or the new SQE route respectively. Both work experience options take two years to complete.

But why do you need legal work experience in the first place?

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Work experience – the lowdown

If you are enrolled on an LPC or on an SQE course, you are required to undertake two years of mandatory work experience before qualifying as a solicitor in the UK. In addition to law firms, the two years can be completed anywhere, such in an in-house legal department of a company or within a charitable organisation’s legal team.

Nonetheless, the experiences you gain in these two years play a crucial role in the development of your legal career. Whilst the LPC and SQE fulfil the theoretical requirements of becoming a lawyer, a training contract and qualifying work experience (QWE) allows you to put the information you learnt on your postgraduate course into practice and apply it in a workplace setting.

It would be very difficult to work as a qualified solicitor and become an integral part of your team without having gained some work experience beforehand.

Fulfilling legal roles prior to qualifying as a lawyer will greatly enhance your CV. It puts you in a good position to apply for roles once you have qualified as a solicitor as you will be able to demonstrate two years worth of work experience to potential employers and the skills that come with it.

This comes especially handy if you are taking the new SQE route. From working as a paralegal to supporting an NGO, you are able to fulfil a variety of roles in the legal industry through completing QWE. In fact, this pathway allows you to complete your QWE with up to four different companies or organisations.

This not only enables you to get a taste of the different areas and positions within the legal industry, but also allows you to demonstrate to employers that you are a well-rounded individual.

Whilst it is mandatory to complete two years of legal work experience to qualify as a solicitor, it is an invaluable opportunity to develop as a lawyer towards specialisations that you are interested in and gain the credentials that are necessary to succeed in the legal industry.

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Legal Work Experience