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Work experience

Getting law work experience is key if you want to become a lawyer.
Image of two people talking at the end of a table sat with a laptop
© University of Law

Legal work, a broad base of experience and the ability to network, are all important for those pursuing a career in the legal profession.

Finding opportunities

Getting work experience is of paramount importance as it shows a potential employer: evidence of your commitment to law, proof that you possess some of the skills and competencies required, and that you have an insight into the profession or a particular type of organisation

There are a wide range of work experience opportunities available to you, including:

Vacation schemes

These schemes, mostly run by larger law firms, give you an insight into a firm and usually run for a couple of weeks whilst the firm considers you as a possible recruit.

Mini-Pupillages

These are essential periods of work experience for anyone interested in the Bar. Look at the Pupillage Gateway as well as chambers’ own websites.

Informal work experience/shadowing

Some firms and organisations offer short informal periods of work experience or shadowing. You need to do your research to find them, and ensure you tailor your letter and write to a named contact when applying.

Pro Bono

This is an invaluable way of applying the law in real world situations. This involves providing legal advice or representation free of charge in the public interest, for example by running drop-in cliics or conducting research. This can be to individuals, charities or community groups who cannot afford to pay for legal help and cannot get legal aid or any other means of funding. At the University of Law, we have around 3,000 pro bono opportunities available for students to take part in each year.

Paralegal work/outdoor clerking

You can secure paralegal or similar work either by applying through an agency (usually only if you already have a reasonable level of work experience) or direct to a firm.

Caseworkers

Organisations such as the Crown Prosecution Service and various advisory services employ legal caseworkers.

Voluntary

Organisations such as your local Legal Advice Clinics and Law Centres may take on voluntary helpers.

Court visits

Anyone can sit in the public gallery and observe proceedings in action.

Firm open days

These can be useful if you’re having difficulty securing legal work experience.

Non-legal opportunities

Some employers like to see a mix of legal and non-legal experience on applications. Think about the kind of legal employer you want to apply to and try to secure relevant non-legal experience. For example, finance is highly relevant for legal organisations who work with corporate clients.

Practice related activities

If you are still at school or university, get involved in activities that have a relevance to law so that you can demonstrate transferable skills. For example, mooting competitions are ideal for those aiming for the Bar.

Employer talks, fairs and speaker programmes

Every year, at the University of Law we host around 200 employers who attend our talks, workshops and careers fairs. Ensure you attend events like these and keep notes (including the name of the speaker as it can be useful to mention a contact by name in future applications).

Mentoring

Each year at the University of Law, we pair hundreds of students with mentors in practice. In addition to building confidence, mentoring can help you to build your first networks too. Look for opportunities where you study, or if you know someone who does a legal job, ask them if they would mentor or coach you.

© University of Law
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