I know I need legal experience, but how do I get started?
In an increasingly competitive environment, it is hard to break into the legal profession without relevant work experience. All too often though, this can be hard to come by. There are a few options you can consider to get ahead.
The traditional route
The formal vacation scheme. Usually two to three weeks at a firm; you get an insight into the firm, they get to know you. This is a very good way of finding out if the firm is right for you.
Consider other roles within law
Competition for vacation schemes is particularly high so think about other ways you can get through the door. Some firms offer roles to law students and future trainees within their marketing teams for example. These roles give you excellent exposure to how lawyers win business and what infrastructure has to be in place to help them do this.
Pro-bono and volunteering
Volunteering at a law clinic or legal charity gives you the opportunity to observe lawyers in practice. Some give the opportunity to conduct follow-up work. Make the most of the pro-bono schemes offered by your university or law school to further your knowledge and broaden your experience. Whilst these are likely to be unpaid, they could lead to opportunity.
Go to your local court to watch some cases in action. Maybe they have volunteering roles available such as assisting the court staff with clerical work, or even shadowing a barrister or judge.
Networking is a great way to meet people in the profession who may be able to help you. There are a host of networks, talks and law fairs that take place each year. Introduce yourself to other attendees and where appropriate, ask if they offer work experience or need volunteers. Take notes of interesting points the speakers make so you can refer to them in your approach to firms. Always carry copies of your CV with you, just in case.
And finally, some top tips…
Apply early; it really does increase your chances.
- Know your CV inside out, ensure it is proof read and mistake-free.
- If a cover letter is required, tailor it EVERY time and make it clear why you want work experience at that firm/company/charity and what skills you can offer them.
- Capitalise on your work experience by keeping a detailed diary, so you can give examples in interviews.
Find out more about The CMS Academy, the pinnacle of legal work experience. The combination of a one-week innovative training on the business of law and a two-week internship, it offers a unique launch pad for your career in law.