By Gary Lee Walters, Editor-in-Chief
So the end is nigh, exams are almost over! Some are still going strong until the beginning of June – good luck for those who have completed theirs and commiserations for those still studying 🙂
Once you have finished your exams, question is, what next? You have several weeks off – is it time in the sun or legal work experience? Is it both? Or is your time already absorbed by wearing a badge with ‘Happy to help’ at the local supermarket?
Some of you will already have jobs, be it in a bar, retail outlet or similar. Some will be focussing on ‘that’ holiday, a chance to have a blowout after nearly burning out – that’s understandable, but what about when you get back? Here’s some food for thought:
Benefits of Legal Work Experience
There is a strong link between work experience and employability. Those who have it are likely seen as stronger candidates when applying for a job – albeit a few years away for some, it will approach quicker than you think. It stands to reason; if you have taken the time and effort to approach a law firm and get legal work experience in a practice which you aspire to join, you will no doubt be looked on more favourably than other candidates. It shows determination and drive to succeed.
We’re not saying you need to spend 6 weeks at a firm – many will not take you for more than 2 weeks anyway, but don’t spend all your summer chasing the sun. Your career is closer than you think.
Development of Skills
Shadowing a solicitor or barrister will help you understand how the law works in practice as opposed to the study of law. How a practising solicitor or barrister applies it is very skilful and some say, an art form. Unable to get legal work experience? Go along to your local court and observe advocates as they practise their skill.
Observing advocates, whether barristers or solicitors (the number of solicitor-advocates is increasing) ought to inspire you and make you think ‘I can do that’.
The next step is getting the legal work experience. You could speak with your university or college to see what they offer in the way of help. Unfortunately, it is our experience that many law schools do not offer any tailored advice. We do. Ask us how we can help you – we have industry contacts.
Solicitor or Barrister
Some will already know they wish to be a solicitor or barrister. For those on the fence, consider observing advocates in crown court or magistrates; get an insight in to how advocates and solicitor-advocates work.
If you decide you wish to see what solicitors do you must approach a firm and try to get legal work experience. Ensure it is relevant; sit down with your supervisor beforehand so you are aware of their expectations of you, and vice-versa.
Opportunities will not find you; you must seek them out. So, enjoy your time in the sun but remember, as soon as you get back, start searching as soon as possible. If you don’t your peers will, and you could lose out.
Keep an eye out for our employability conferences and workshops which will increase your employability – if your institution is not helping you, tell them about us. The fees you are paying them ought to get you more of a return than just a degree, after all, several thousand others will also have one.
Come interview time, how will you be different?
© Gary Lee Walters, 2013