Ever heard the expression, “You need experience to gain experience”?
If you’re thinking of applying for legal work experience or legal graduate jobs in the future, pro bono volunteering is a perfect way to diversify your CV.
It demonstrates a commitment to pursing a legal career by taking your legal interest outside of academics. Volunteer work also demonstrates to an employer that you can be compassionate and willing to spare your free time to help other people.
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Pro bono work is valuable experience to gain whilst at university. When potential employers consider your CV, they will expect to see a range of activities that display skill development and an active interest in law. Therefore, it is important to find the time whilst at university to search for the right experience- it will also help illustrate to employers that you managed your time effectively at university.
A few days work experience on your CV may not be enough to secure an interview with a large international law firm. Therefore, seeking a range of legal work experience will show a genuine and established interest in the legal sector. It will also provide a deeper knowledge of how the legal processes outside of academics and in real practice.
Pro bono volunteering covers a broad range of activities. Here are a few examples of some opportunities usually available in most cities:
Several universities also now run student led pro bono law clinics. This is also an excellent way to build up a strong CV. Student led law clinics are supervised by qualified lawyers but allow law students to interact and assist real clients and real cases.
This experience may sometimes include contacting and interviewing clients, managing client files and sometimes even assisting litigation. You can use your experience in your university’s law clinic to show employers how you have utilised key skills needed to be a lawyer.
A key advantage of carrying out pro bono volunteering is being able to convey to prospective employers that you already have an understanding of client confidentiality. This is an important part of the solicitor’s code of conduct; being able to demonstrate a real life application of your understanding of confidentiality and data protection shows that you already understand of an essential part of the Solicitor’s code of conduct in practice.
Crucially, whilst pro bono volunteering may be a great method to gain experience for your legal applications, it’s also a brilliant way to network and meet new people. Law firms may sometimes require members of staff to undertake pro bono work, which makes volunteering the perfect opportunity to make contacts from local law firms.
Making contact through this type of work can be an invaluable asset to bring up in interviews, as it will create a clear link to the firm and its staff. Networking is a skill, and the more you practice, the easier it will become to make those connections.
For more help securing your ideal work experience placement, click here:
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