Starting university is a whirlwind enough without having to think about your career. The day you start your law graduate job is further away than Jupiter (you might have to double check that one for us), so what’s the point in thinking about getting some legal work experience now? After all, you still have to do the law conversion course and legal practice course after you’ve finished the degree you’ve only just started!
Ah, but this is entirely the reason why you should get your gears oiled sooner rather than later. If all wannabe solicitors (and trust us, there are a fair few) had the attitude that they could ‘just put it off’, only a tiny number of students would succeed. It’s all about getting ahead of the competition in this game, and just because you don’t study law doesn’t mean you can’t be on the hunt for work experience.
Where do I find legal work experience?
Once you’ve increased your commercial awareness by flicking (read: thoroughly reading) a copy of the Financial Times, it’s time to see what work experience opportunities are out there for the non-law student.
Law firm open days and the like are useful when it comes to finding more about a career in the City and getting your name out there to the top firms, but you’ll do little to no work at events like these.
Legal work experience doesn’t have to be found outside of the four university walls. Joining the law society is an absolute must, and they’ll hold regular mooting events. Mooting mimics a court room, with two sides often debating an issue. Mooting allows you to think about the practical application of the law and also tests your skills in researching in-depth and advocating a specific argument.
You can also get legal work experience at university by seeing if your law department takes part in any pro bono work. This can be something such as an Innocence Project, which examines past cases and helps clear the name of those wrongly convicted. A group of students at Cardiff University recently overturned a murder conviction… imagine having that on the CV!
Additionally, you could apply to smaller, high street firms to see if they need an extra hand over the summer, or you could shadow a barrister or a judge for a couple of days. The most important thing surrounding legal work experience is to make sure to ask questions, work hard and remember to make a note of your responsibilities and what you learned. This means that when you apply for vacation schemes, you can impress the recruiter with the skills you’ve picked up before.
Is my non-law degree a disadvantage?
“But I’m a non-law student, they’ll only take law students for work experience!” Well, that’s a lie. Non-law students are in demand due to their transferable skills. If you do a language degree, then voila! You’re set to be a massive help to a firm who may be working on a cross border issue. If you’re studying business or finance, you’ll be able to pick up the ins and outs of a business pretty quickly – this is absolutely key for the 21st century lawyer.
Legal work experience is out there, you just have to find it! Use your university careers centre, who will most certainly have links with local firms, as well as using Google and LinkedIn!