Gaining relevant work experience is almost essential to getting your foot on the first rung of the ladder in your law career.
To gain a training position or a first job it is likely that you will have to provide evidence that you have some necessary work experience already in addition to having the right grades. There are various different ways you can tackle this – so let’s take a look at some of them.
These are extended periods of working for a firm of lawyers and many law firms will then recruit their trainee positions directly from those students who have work for them on their vacation schemes. Usually, you will apply for these positions directly and your law school should be able to help you find them. If there is a law firm you think you would like to work for then have a look online or contact them directly to see if they offer a vacation scheme – they will most likely be impressed with your initiative.
In the UK and other countries where the legal profession is split between solicitors and barristers, many barristers chambers offer the chance of mini-pupillages to students to get a taste of what being barristers involves. This can be found through contacts you have developed while you are at law school and they are also advertised on places like this.
Insight days are individual days at law firms and other organisations that allow law students to see what it is like to work there. On one of these days, you will probably get a tour and meet some of the people who work there, it's a good opportunity to find out about vacation schemes or other ways of getting work experience if you are keen to work at the law firm.
If you know which area of the law you want to work in, then shadowing someone who already works in this field will help you. The best way to get a chance at shadowing someone while they work is by networking effectively while you study and thereby hopefully meeting the right person.
These competitions are excellent chances to practice your courtroom skills and to get some feedback about what you can improve on. You are unlikely to be given helpful feedback so easily once you are working!
Pro bono work
Most law schools run law clinics where students can assist with pro-bono work. Often these law clinics might help people who are in need or find it difficult to access legal advice. They are a great way to gain real-life work experience whilst genuinely helping people in need.
University law societies will give the chance to meet with other students who are interested in the law, but not necessarily studying it. Many legal careers, especially those in many big law firms, combine socialising and work, so it's a good idea to start practicing relaxing but still discussing the law while you are still at law school.
Trainees accepted into the Law Society of Scotland
Here's an idea of how many students are successful in Scotland having gained all the work experience they needed to get a training contract and be admitted to the Law Society of Scotland to work as lawyers.