Career Advice and Opportunities:
Due to the competitive nature of the legal profession, it is important to not only attain high marks in your law degree, but in order to place yourself in a good position to get a full-time position after graduation, you should aim to attain as much legal work experience while you are undergoing your law degree to put yourself in a competitive position.
What can you do while you are a law student? One of the most invaluable things you can do while you are studying for your law degree is to get legal experience. This demonstrates to potential job recruiters that you have a real interest in pursuing a career in the legal field. During your law degree, you should aim to get some work experience from any of the following: law firms, chambers, charities, institutions with an in house legal department such as a pharmaceutical company, banks, fashions houses, etc. While the majority of law students apply to law firms for work placements, you should not restrict yourself to just applying to law firms as there are numerous other legal organisations that can provide you with invaluable work experience. This is particularly relevant in an area of law such as banking and finance, then it would be wise to look into getting work experience at a bank or a finance company. If you come from a science background, then a pharmaceutical company would be a good fit. If you are interested in fashion and design, then you may want to try applying for work experience in a fashion house.
There are several types of legal work experience you can attain while you are a law student:
- Pro bono work: This kind of work provides students with the opportunity to gain legal experience by interacting directly clients under the supervision of a practicing lawyer. Many of our partner universities have pro bono legal clinics in their law school and this is an excellent way to demonstrate your commitment to the legal field to potential recruiters, in addition to making contacts with lawyers.
- Mini pupillages: This opportunity allows law students to shadow a barrister in chambers, see their daily activities and workload and the type of cases they handle. Mini pupillages require application forms and can be highly competitive.
If you are intent on getting experience in a law firm, there are different opportunities:
- Open days: Many law firms run open days throughout the year for law students to visit the law firm for a day and meet lawyers at the firm and see how the law firm is set up. This is particularly suitable for law students in their first year of legal studies.
- Vacation schemes: These programmes are targeted towards 2nd and 3rd year law students and take place during the Winter and Spring holidays. Depending on law firm, the length of the vacation scheme and the type of work it includes varies.
*It is worth noting that vacation schemes and open days require applications and can be competitive therefore students should submit their applications before the deadlines indicated on the law firms’ websites.
Once you complete a LLB, it may be worth looking at supplementing your degree with specialist legal knowledge in the form of the LLM.
The LLM (Master of Laws) is a postgraduate qualification that can help you stand out from the rest of your colleagues because it can enhance your knowledge in a specific of law significantly. In addition, if there is a certain area of law that you would like to work in, such as Human Rights Law, then a LLM will allow you to build upon your knowledge of the basic principles and concepts of law and deepen your knowledge of human rights law. A LLM will allow you to take a more practice-based approach, which may be appealing to law firms and can improve your career prospects.
3 Popular LLM programmes amongst Canadians include:
- Human Rights: Essex, Exeter, Kent, Liverpool, Queen Mary, Sussex, York
- Corporate and Commercial: (all partners except Liverpool)
- Medical Law: Kent, Liverpool, Queen Mary
Networking can play a significant role in landing you work experience. Who you know is almost just as important as your academic background.
Hopefully, you were able to get work experience while you were undergoing your law degree and make contacts there so you already know about how the organization works, some of the lawyers who already work there and maybe even the hiring personnel. However, there are several other ways to expand your network.
First, look to the people in your inner circle, family, friends, neighbours and acquaintances and ask whether they know anyone working in the legal field, which can be useful if they know someone working in a law firm or in an organization with an in-house law team. If they do know someone, ask if they can put you in contact with that person.
Another way to build your network is to attend law and employment fairs. Several of our partner universities hold law fairs on campus, where they invite many law firms and you can learn more about their firm, meet a few of their employees and ask your questions. This is such as good way to talk to legal professionals, get their business cards and ask whether they are offering any work experience in the near future. If they are, ask if you can send them a copy of your CV/Resume.
Your social media presence is important for networking, as all law firms have a LinkedIn page, Twitter and Facebook accounts. Follow legal organizations and law firms that are of interest to you and connect to organizations (such as ourselves: CLFA) to connect with other like-minded individuals to build your network!