Published on July 26, 2017 by Laura

Wondering how you can gain work shadowing at a law firm? Our writer, Shannon, details her work shadowing placement at Freshfields and what the week entailed.

See how Vantage can help you begin your legal career at a reputable firm like Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer (MC)

What is work shadowing?

Work shadowing is informal work experience where you get the opportunity to observe an employee. It aims to deliver insight into the workings of the law firm as opposed to practical work experience. It is normally only for a few days and is unpaid.

How do you gain work shadowing?

Unlike work experience, it is gained through speculative enquiries, as it is it not often publicly advertised. If you are interested in shadowing, then email the individual or company an up-to-date copy of your CV alongside a cover letter that explains why you wish to take part in work shadowing and how this could be advantageous to you.

Why is work shadowing beneficial?  

  1. You gain understanding on the type of firm that the organisation is and the routines of their employees. This will help you to know if you would like to potentially work for that firm or a firm that is similar.
  2. It is a chance to network. During work shadowing you will meet a variety of people in different positions in the firm. These could be beneficial in the future, for example when you are looking for further work experience or a full-time job.
  3. It will teach you skills regarding your own professional growth. You will see how employees interact and conduct themselves in the work place. These observations that you make will teach you how to better yourself in a professional environment.

My Experience at Freshfields:

I gained my work shadowing with Freshfields London in 2015, whilst I was completing my A-Levels. I acquired this through emailing the Head of HR and requesting if there was a work experience placement that I could apply for. As I was not at university they suggested that I had a week-long work shadowing placement.

Once I arrived, I was paired with a senior member of the Dispute Resolution team. I spent a lot of my time with him discussing the reality of a career in law and the avenue that he took to be in the position he is now. This was beneficial as I had no real understanding on what practising law was actually like on a daily basis.

I attended a meeting with him which centred around the recent cases that Freshfields had worked on and the outcome of these. This was interesting as it showed what type of cases one can expect to work on in a commercial law firm.

Outside of my time with my mentor, I was part of a team of roughly eight other A-Level students. We attended presentations from a variety of legal teams that introduced us to different sectors we may potentially want to work in. For me this was the most insightful part of the work shadowing, as it gave me a good introduction to different types of law and how to get involved in each field.

Further to this, we were given a mock case and we spent the week talking to different professionals about the facts of the case. By the end of the week, we needed to address the ‘client’ and discuss with them the potential outcomes. It was a fun way of imitating the day-to-day work of a professional solicitor and helped us understand how to liaise with different departments.

I believe that work shadowing was the best thing I could do before deciding to study law at university as it showed me what my future could potentially hold. I would recommend it to people at all different stages of their study as it teaches you about individual firms and helps you decide what type of firm you may wish to work for in the future.

Words: Shannon Aiken


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