Legal work experience is incredibly valuable to law students seeking to kick-start their careers in the legal industry. However, did you know that you do not have to follow the traditional firm or chambers route to get legal experience? Read on to find out what in house legal work experience is and how to get it.
What is In House Legal Work Experience?
In house legal work experience allows you not only to gain experience within the legal industry but gain experiences that best suit your interests. Placements may also be referred to as legal internships and they are offered by commercial companies, charities, and government bodies.
In house lawyers are in place to deal with the specific legal needs of the companies or organisations that they work for. This means that the type of work that an in house lawyer carries out specifically depends on the company, organisation, or industry they work for. For example, banks have in house legal departments that will deal solely with banking and finance law-related issues and media companies have in house lawyers that will deal with media law. Even football teams have in house counsel which aids them in understanding specific areas of sporting law. Therefore, gaining in house legal work experience may mean applying to a company that perhaps does not in itself relate to law but whose industries legal issues may particularly interest you.
What Types of Organisations Offer In House Work Experience?
Banks or financial institutions
Media companies such as Sky, BBC, or BT
Charities such as The Citizens Advice Bureau
Retail companies and large brands
Government bodies such as Crown Prosecution Service or the Government Legal Service
However, whilst these organisations are likely to have active in house legal departments, they’re not as advertised as other forms of work experience. So you might be more successful in securing a placement by sending speculative CVs to companies known to have in house counsel or known to provide in house training contracts in industries or sectors which interest you. Even a simple and polite email asking how best to go about gaining some legal work experience in an industry would be a good start.
What Does In House Legal Work Experience Involve?
Barclays Bank provides a “Legal Experience Week” to a number of members of Aspiring Solicitors, a platform dedicated to increasing diversity in the legal industry. The week takes place in Barclays’ headquarters in London and consists of a week-long insight into how an in house legal department works in a financial environment. The experience is filled with similar sessions as might be found in traditional law firm work experience – networking, shadowing the in house lawyers’ work and workshops.
Many other firms will follow a similar structure and get their interns involved in cases and communication.
Can You Get a Training Contract From this Type of Experience?
Whilst many lawyers who end up working in house begin their legal career training in private practice, there are a number of companies who are authorised by The Law Society to offer training contracts. However, many of these companies tend to decide whether or not to offer training opportunities based on business needs as opposed to taking an annual intake of trainees.