Legal Work Experience…A Week in the Life

Monday 5th March 2012

Day 1 began with me waking up and feeling utter dread at the thought of being a solicitor’s offices all week…what if I didn’t like it, changed my mind about career and realised I’m wasting £10k on a course I’m not going to use. Stupid right? Surely I made sure I wanted to be a solicitor BEFORE signing up for the LPC? Well I did but you never know if something is going to change your mind.

Anyway, off I went to ‘work’. These early mornings don’t happen very much in the world of the unemployed so it was a struggle to wake up at 6am to leave the house at 8am. Not that I stay in bed all day but I’m pretty much used to a daily routine of waking at 8am, rolling out of bed and landing at my desk by 9am ready for a day of studying. Upon arrival I was greeted by a member of staff who gave me a tour of the building and introduced me to everyone. I was a bit like a deer in headlights at this point because to me the building was a bit of a maze and I was wondering how on earth I was going to remember my way around.

Following the tour I was taken to my first department of the week…the Litigation department. Now, remember that really good interview I had a while ago but didn’t get? Well the two lovely ladies who interviewed me that day work in litigation and I was to be working with them for the day. I have to say, it was a relief to see familiar faces, especially for my first day! The morning was filled with a large chunk of legal research, hunting and hunting for a case that didn’t seem to want to be found. I was beginning to think I had been sent on a wild goose chase, but then I finally found something! Oh, the relief from finding the case I had spent the majority of the day searching for, indescribable. Anyway, once this was done we were well into the afternoon so my final task of the day was some simple photocopying of documents for a client. Nice and easy and whilst I was doing this I got the chance to chat to a couple of other members of staff.

So there we go…day 1 complete. First impressions? I felt very welcomed on my first day and I was definitely looking forward to returning on Wednesday.

Tuesday 8th March 2012

I was given the Tuesday off in order to attend LPC so I didn’t have to miss a day of studying – I think this is the only firm I’ve come across who actually accepts that the LPC is important and they were happy to work around it for my placement.

Wednesday 7th March 2012

Day 2 – I actually couldn’t wait to get back into it on the morning of my 2nd day…sad I know but I was really excited! I knew where I would be for this day so I signed in and went straight over to the Wills and Probate department to introduce myself and await instructions for the day.

I had been particularly looking forward to this day because I really would like to work in Wills when qualified so this would give me some valuable experience. Thankfully it lived up to expectations…I sat in on client meetings, drafted a Will, undertook some research and it was great!

Another excellent part of the day was when the senior partner (SP) took me to a networking event at lunchtime. It wasn’t until we were pulling into the car park that he mentioned that everybody including guests (me!) would be expected to stand up and introduce themselves for 60 seconds. So I literally had about 15-20 minutes to prepare something in my head. I think the worst part about this was that not only would it be the room of complete strangers listening to me, but the SP of a firm I really want to work for! Likelihood being he would also be listening and probably judging me based on what I said! Cue stress. Anyway, long story short, I rocked my 60 seconds. I put this down to the fact that as a Teacher I used to have to stand in front of classes of children, plus parents who would be silently judging me and I became quite the confident speaker as a result. SP seemed impressed by my little speech and this made me feel a little bit happy that so far I wasn’t making a complete fool of myself.

Back at the office for the afternoon I was in another client meeting, and doing some more drafting. All in all, day 2 was a pretty damn good day.

Thursday 8th March 2012

Day 3 – new department, this time Commercial. I was at the same desk I had been at on Wednesday so my surroundings were familiar but I would be working with the SP instead of in Wills.

Straight away we started with a client meeting. This was followed by some file organising, and file reading, getting to grips with what is done in the Commercial department. To be honest there was nothing too taxing on my list for the day but I still enjoyed myself immensely. The best thing about the day was getting to draft a simple letter to a client, then seeing it typed up on letterhead and getting it signed to be sent to that client. It felt good to put my drafting skills to the test.

I seem to be getting along with everyone at the firm and it’s really nice to be welcomed as if I am one of the team. I have walked into some law firms where I have really been made to feel like less of a person than those who work there. It was a complete contrast at this firm though…everyone knows everyone and chats in a friendly way. Obviously each person knows their place and who they answer to etc., but there’s no air of “I’m better than you” which all too often is the case, probably down to concerns over job security. I even decided to pluck up some courage (on recommendation by the SP) and handed my CV in to the practice manager and asked to be considered for a job there. I would be absolutely over the moon if I was lucky enough to get a job at this firm, even if only an administration role. The idea is to work up from the bottom and if administration is where it starts, then so be it.

Friday 9th March 2012

This was it…my last day of work experience and I was actually gutted that it was going to be over. I’d grown quite attached to the firm, the people and my little desk over the course of the week so I figured it was going to be hard to drag myself away at 5.30pm.

My last day was seen out in the Commercial department and back at the desk I had been working at since Wednesday.

Today was a bit slower than previous days because there wasn’t a great deal for me to do. I did a bit of organising for the SP, and then wrote a blog post for the firm’s website. After lunch I really thought I would be stuck with nothing to do because all seemed very quiet around the place but then I was given a fair bit of typing to do for one of the solicitors and this filled my last couple of hours nicely!

Before he left the SP came to me asking if I had handed my CV in like he had told me to, I replied that yes I had done it the previous day and he told me to make sure I keep in touch with the practice manager every few weeks so my name doesn’t get forgotten if any jobs do come up. This I will definitely do and it feels nice that a member of the firm is pushing me to do so. For all I know he’s told all work experience people to do that but I like to think I’m one of a select few who get told to!

So there we go, that’s the lowdown on my first ever week of work experience. I loved it. I really felt like I would fit in if I was lucky enough to get a job there. It’s a sad feeling having to walk away not knowing if I would get to go back there in the future as an employee.

Oh well, for now all I can do is wait and hope that something comes up at that firm in the future (hopefully not too distant future) and that I’m lucky enough to get it. Once again, watch this space…

© Karen Salt, 2012

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