For anyone considering a law career, obtaining law work experience is a crucial first step. The benefits are numerous:
“The legal job market is very competitive, so law students should gain relevant work experience where possible to boost their credentials. A work experience placement demonstrates to employers that a prospective employee has the skills and determination to succeed in the legal industry.” BPP Law School
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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If you are considering a career as a solicitor, law firm work experience or an in-house-based solicitor placement will be most appropriate and may include completing:
Law firm work experience is 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
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.
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 this type of law firm work experience, click on the link – Law Internships.
Law firm 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.
Watch our video with former legal intern, Wing, for more information:
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.
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.
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:
it is all invaluable experience that you should be tracking. We recommend a three-step approach to mapping your law work experience:
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