Pursuing a career in law is highly competitive, so if you already know that it’s the field you want to go into, you should focus your attention on finding some year 12 law work experience.
This kind of experience will help you in your future applications to apprenticeships, university and job vacancies. It will also give you a better idea of the areas of law that most interest you.
However, as a school student, it can be challenging to get legal work experience. Most law firm vacation schemes are targeted at university students, and health and safety regulations can often be a barrier to under 18s.
If you’re looking for legal work experience during your GCSEs or A-Levels, read our top tips below!
This page is a good starting point, but read our Ultimate Guide to Law Work Experience for Year 12 Students for even more useful information.Go to the ultimate guide
It’s a good idea to research local law firms and chambers and contact them to request a week or two of work experience during your school holidays. This will involve “shadowing”, or observing, solicitors and barristers as they go about their day-to-day activities.
This experience will give you an insight into the role of a lawyer, the kind of work you’ll be doing and whether it is a career that you would ultimately like to pursue. This understanding will also be really helpful for your future job applications.
>> Wondering where to get started with workplace shadowing? Read our work shadowing account of being at Magic Circle law firm Freshfields!
Another option is to visit your local magistrates court, where a number of public proceedings of summary offences are open to viewing every day. This way you can witness several different roles at action – the defence, the prosecution, the legal adviser and the judge. You can also experience the atmosphere of the court and see if you can imagine yourself working in this kind of environment.
Attending court will also help you study and analyse the structure of the proceedings which will give your good insight into areas such as criminal law. Bring a friend so you can discuss your observations together.
Volunteering can be another really great way of gaining some year 12 law work experience and there are hundreds of legal charities and law-related organisations across the UK. You can take a look at some through our page: The Ultimate Guide to Pro Bono Work Experience.
Whilst larger organisations sometimes have an age limit that might prevent you from applying, there are plenty of smaller organisations that actively seek out volunteers. Have a think about the areas of law and issues that interest you and then begin looking into the relevant ones that operate in your area.
While you might not always get to do the really exciting legal work, volunteering will equip you with a range of practical skills you can discuss in applications and interviews. If you want yours to stand out from other legal CVs, this is the place to start.
The CAB is also another service likely to be local to you. It provides free legal advice for ordinary individuals, usually regarding minor legal issues.
You could ask to shadow an adviser for the day, or perhaps take some time out of education after sixth form to train as an adviser yourself.
> Read our contributor’s account working at Citizens Advice Bureau
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While the majority of law firms and chambers do not offer formal law firm work experience for year 12 students, there are a minority that do.
Firms such as Pinsent Masons, Foot Anstey and Fletchers Solicitors offer a range of work experience opportunities to A-level students.
Meanwhile, Berwin Leighton Paisner (now Bryan Cabe Leighton Paisner) and Eversheds Sutherland both run diversity programmes designed to promote access to the legal profession for a broader range of individuals. If you think you could meet their criteria, then this is definitely worth researching as both are extremely prestigious firms.
Matrix Chambers and Old Square Chambers both also offer work experience to school students, so if you’re considering a career as a barrister, these might well be an option for you.
>> Want to know more about what goes in a cover letter? Take a look at our 6 Things to Include in a Law Cover Letter for Work Experience.
Early work experience may put you at an advantage, but don’t be disheartened if you can’t seem to get any.
University courses and apprenticeships offer their own opportunities for you to further your interest in law in a variety of different ways. The best thing you can do is to just keep learning – read legal news, work hard at your A-levels, and when the time comes, those firms and chambers will want you in their ranks.
Words: Harriet Parfitt and Hannah Capstick
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