First year: considering law as an option
Are you currently in your first year of a Bachelors degree? Are you fairly certain you wish to undertake a Graduate Law Degree (GDL) after graduating? Here, we recommend several courses of action you can do to make the most of your free time as a student while developing your legal experience.
If you haven’t chosen to study an undergraduate law degree at university, it won’t mean that the doors to a law career will be closed to you. After graduating with a Bachelors degree, any student is able to convert to a Graduate Law Degree (GDL). Although the prospect of applying and doing the GDL seems far off, we recommend that you start thinking about it now. To become a lawyer, you will have to overcome many hurdles and stand out in a highly-competitive field. So you should start to build up your legal experience as soon as you decide that law is the career path for you.
With this in mind, here’s how you can improve your CV and impress law recruiters as a first-year, non-law student.
Join the law society
Your university law society will prove an invaluable tool when it comes to acquiring information about up-and-coming law events, career opportunities, workshops and generally anything to help get you started in law. To add to this, joining the law society provides an excellent opportunity for networking. Networking is essential in order to build up your contacts, and there is no better place to practice developing this skill than with the law society. Generally, the society will invite trainees, solicitors and other legal professionals to events throughout the year, providing you with the opportunity to ask them questions in an informal setting.
Look for a part-time job
Getting a part-time job can be extremely beneficial in developing time-management skills, as well as communication skills and general confidence in a working environment. Your academic commitments should always be your main priority, but if you manage to balance your course commitments with the responsibilities of your part-time job, your CV will stand out from the other applicants. Your part-time job doesn’t have to be related to law; any work experience is highly valuable. Even a little experience working in a bank will contribute to developing your commercial awareness—a highly-sought-after skill in law applicants.
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You may want to volunteer a few hours of your spare time each week. Your law society will be able to recommend a number of opportunities related to law, such as pro bono projects, available to law and non-law students. Aspiring lawyers need to learn how to handle their clients in a professional manner. Volunteering could help you develop these skills by interacting in an intuitive and empathetic manner with individuals who at times may have experienced upsetting situations.
Write a few articles for the student newspaper
Any solicitor or barrister should have a good command of the English language and the ability to tell a compelling story. There is no better way to improve these skills than practice, and one way to do so is to write articles for the student newspaper. The more you can do to develop your communication skills, the better you will be able to form structured opinions and arguments. An opinion piece or a comment article will be particularly beneficial, because you will be required to convey your point in a stimulating manner and convince your reader about the merits of your argument. Both these skills are extremely important, particularly for an aspiring lawyer!
Run for a position in a society committee
Running for a society committee position can be extremely rewarding and a great learning opportunity. The society in question does not necessarily have to be the law society, but it is definitely worth considering if you are passionate about law. Being on the committee of any society will improve your confidence due to the responsibility and authority associated with the role. Society members will look to the committee for help, guidance and friendship, so it is important you embody the values and charisma the society wishes to promote. Being on the committee is also a chance to develop your organisational and teamwork skills, because you will be working together to host exciting events over the course of the year.
Law firms are not purely interested in an applicant's academic record; recruiters wish to hire individuals with interests, passions and a proactive mentality. What better way to demonstrate this than dedicating your spare time to a society committee role?
Next article: Second year: acquainting yourself with law