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Work Experience for Law

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Work Experience for Law: Considering Work Experience for Training Contracts and Interviews

Work experience for Law is different to work experience for many other fields, as the work experience itself is highly competitive (similar to careers in banking, for example, but very different to fields like Medicine). You should therefore prepare yourself for difficult applications. However, those applications will be worth it, as the work experience could be vital to your future career. It will enable you to better understand whether to become a barrister or a solicitor, as you develop a better understanding of what their work is like, and provide you with experiences to put on your CV – as well as a possible route into certain firms or chambers at a later date. It will also reinforce to anyone assessing you in future that you are a highly dedicated future lawyer.

Work Experience for Solicitors: Securing Training Contracts

Work experience for solicitors will either be in-house or through a law firm. Considering law firms first, the typical routes are vacation schemes or open days.

Vacation schemes are a one or two week period of work, typically over summer or winter, where you will be able to experience working in a particular firm. They are paid, and highly competitive. Many firms recruit for their training contracts either exclusively or near-exclusively from their vacation schemes.

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Open days at law firms allow you to get an overview of the firm and its work, and crucially to speak to current trainees and more senior lawyers. Just like vacation schemes, there is competition to attend – however, the application process will be worth it for the boost to your CV and the ability to gain access to a firm. Having made the open day, you will be in a better place to then make the vacation scheme, and a training contract in turn.

Considering work experience done through a company instead of a law firm, you might want to try to gain a place on a legal internship. These are longer than other forms of law work experience, and can last for as little as a month to as much as a year. Here, you will be part of the in-house legal team, and gain experience of the law and commerce. This is a great option if you are taking a gap year, or are looking to boost your CV over a period of a few months before applying to training contracts.

Work Experience for Barristers

If you are interested in becoming a barrister, then you will need to consider a mini pupillage. This is the principal form of work experience for those looking to take the Bar. Here, you will shadow a barrister throughout a few days of their working week, seeing how they work in their chambers and possibly in court. Mini pupillages will differ widely depending on the barrister that you are shadowing, and the time in which you are shadowing them – because barristers are self-employed and their schedules vary so much, you might find that you are lucky and shadow them during a busy period, or less lucky and that you shadow them during a period with much less work. However, you should expect to be able to attend meetings with the barrister, observe them in court if they are in court during that period, to help them to review paperwork, to help them through drafting documents, and also to be tasked with conducting research on their behalf.

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You might also gain work experience for the Bar through court visits. This is a non-competitive and highly interesting way of gaining experience. All it requires is that you contact your local Magistrates Courts or Crown Courts and see whether hearings can be attended, and if so when. You might be able to see a variety of types of cases, and different types of court in action. This would be a good way of demonstrating your dedication to the Bar, and your interest in the law.

Judge marshalling is the final way of gaining relevant experience for the bar, which sees you shadow a judge. Here, you will sit with the judge in court and be able to see barristers arguing their case. In order to gain a place in a judge marshalling scheme, you would need to apply through the Inns of Courts. 
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