Law Work Experience
Law work experience is a vital part of pursuing a law career. Whether you want to be a solicitor, a barrister, or any other type of legal professional, law work experience is essential.
It will help you to confirm whether your chosen career path is right for you, as well as opening doors and providing a vital boost to your CV when applying for law jobs.
This page gives a general overview of law work experience. We have more specific pages on vacation schemes, mini pupillage, law firm open days and pro bono work.
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Why Undertake Law Work Experience?
For anyone considering a law career, obtaining law work experience is a crucial first step. The benefits are numerous:
- It will help you to ascertain whether you want to study and ultimately practise law
- It is helpful in deciding which career path you wish to choose (for example, a solicitor or a barrister)
- Hands-on law work experience looks great on your CV and will provide genuine and relevant content for inclusion in application forms and discussion at interview
- It will help to demonstrate and reinforce your commitment to studying law and legal practice
- It can help you to consider which area of law you may want to specialise in
- It gives firms and chambers an indication of your interests in their organisation
- It will give you a taste of the routine of a solicitor or barrister, and you will have the chance to see what they must do and how they must act in order to be a successful lawyer
When Should I Apply for Law Work Experience?
As soon as you begin to think seriously about a legal career, you should start taking preliminary steps towards securing law work experience. The sooner you gain experience, the sooner you will be able to make informed decisions about your future in the legal profession and the possible direction it may take. Whether it is during your GCSEs or A-Levels or during your undergraduate or postgraduate studies, it is never too early to start exploring and pursuing the opportunities available.
What Type of Law Work Experience is Right for Me?
The type of law work experience you undertake will very much depend on whether your interests lie in qualifying as a solicitor or barrister.
Equally, if you are still undecided on whether you want to pursue becoming a barrister or a solicitor, then it is a good idea to test different roles and see which you find the most appealing and which role suits your ambitions and work ethic more.
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Law Work Experience for Aspiring Solicitors
If you are considering a career as a solicitor, law firm-based work experience will be most appropriate and may include completing:
Law work experience with a law firm, usually open to undergraduates and postgraduates, lasting one or two weeks. Most firms allow you to apply for winter, spring or summer placements, but applications are early so it’s important that you get ahead.
To find out more about vacation schemes, click on the link – Law Vacation Schemes.
See Vacation Scheme Deadlines
Law Firm Open Days
Larger law firms intermittently run open days which allow individuals to spend a day in a law firm. During the day, you will get to network with the firm’s solicitors and graduate recruitment team as well as get a feel for the firm and the work they do.
To find out more about law firm open days, click on the link – Law Firm Open Days.
See Open Day Deadlines
Many firms offer undergrads the opportunity to spend a week or so in their firms to get a taste of what work in their offices may be like if they choose to pursue a career in law.
To find out more about law internships, click on the link – Law Internships.
Solicitor law work experience opportunities for younger individuals (i.e. pre-university) are more limited. There are certainly fewer structured law work experience opportunities available. That being said, there is nothing to stop you from making some speculative applications to law firms at this stage.
Law Work Experience for Aspiring Barristers
If the Bar is of particular interest, work experience in a barrister’s chambers and/or in a courtroom setting will help to give you a flavour for a career as a barrister and whether it’s right for you. Law work experience opportunities are as follows:
This type of work experience involves shadowing a barrister for a working week, seeing what they do in chambers, and also potentially seeing what it is like in the courts, demonstrating the more vocational side of being a barrister.
To find out more about mini pupillage, click on the link – mini pupillage.
See Mini Pupillage Deadlines
Court visits are an excellent way to experience first-hand what a barrister does and how they represent their clients, as an advocate, in court. Observing hearings in courts of different levels will make for a varied experience, with Magistrates Courts and Crown Courts being a great place to start – contact your local courts to find out which opportunities are available.
Many hearings are public proceedings, so it will be free for you to sit in the public gallery and watch. This will give you the chance to see how a barrister addresses legal facts in issue, and how they present their arguments in court.
Judge Marshalling allows you to shadow a judge in their daily practices. It offers a great opportunity to see how the English Legal System operates on a day-to-day basis.
Sitting on the panel with the judge in court will give you first-hand opportunity to hear exactly how a barrister presents their case, argument or application to a judge. For example, you may be able to hear bail applications and opening or closing statements for a criminal case.
In order to secure a judge marshalling placement, you can apply directly to the Inns of Courts, which often offer formal marshalling schemes. Alternatively, you could try contacting the court manager or listing officer at your local Crown Court or County Court to find out about judge marshalling opportunities.
Applying for Law Work Experience – How, When, Where?
To find out more about some of the law work experience opportunities available check out the following links
Most applications are done by completing an online application form or by providing a CV and cover letter.
How Do I Make the Most Out of my Law Work Experience?
Whatever law work experience you undertake, it is important to give it your all! Many people think that obtaining law work experience alone is enough. In reality, it is only one step. In order to shine you must reflect on your experiences.
To assist you in this process The Lawyer Portal has provided a free personal portfolio tool, which enables you to track your law work experience, and what you have gained from it, in a simple and transparent way. Whether it be:
- Gaining experience in teamwork
- Solving a complex problem
- Completing an intricate piece of research
- Simply managing case files
it is all invaluable experience that you should be tracking. We recommend a three-step approach to mapping your law work experience:
- Input your particular experiences as soon as possible
- Reflect and read around your experiences
- Revisit and update after a week
Want more advice on making the most of work experience? Read these top tips >>