Legal work experience, and particularly vacation schemes, are a must for any junior lawyer who is hoping to go on and secure a training contract.
Law firms will expect applicants to show that they have a keen interest in the law and the legal profession. One of the main indicators of this is having good quality work experience on the CV.
Getting some legal work experience is an important step along the way to becoming a solicitor for two main reasons:
1. It allows you to sample life a solicitor at first hand to help you decide whether its for you and, if so, which area of law/law firm you might be best suited to.
2. It can result in you securing a training contract at the same place. Many firms use their work experience placements and vacation schemes as part of their extended interview process.
With the increased competition for training contract places participating in a vacation scheme or similar can vastly improve your chances of securing that training contract.
As Deborah Dalgleish, Head of Trainee Recruitment at Freshfields, told Times Online previously: “A vacation scheme doubles your chances of being taken on as a trainee.” (to read the full Times On-line article click here: legal work experience)
The sort of legal work experience you can pick up varies greatly. This is from simple, unpaid work shadowing of a lawyer in order to take a peek behind the scenes to formal vacation schemes from two to four weeks which can pay up to, and sometimes over, £250 per week.
Most vacation schemes take place during the summer although some firms do also run Easter and Christmas schemes. Some schemes are run exclusively for non-law graduates whilst many others are for mixed law and non-law graduates.
As mentioned above, one of the main reasons for getting work experience is to help you research different areas of law and different law firms to assist your decision as to where to apply for a training contract. Firms are well aware that you may be shopping around and in fact would look positively on you doing so.
Our recommendation therefore is that you aim to undertake at least three work experience placements with three different types of firms. This can be in terms of work they do, their location and their size. This will give you a much better feel for which might suit you best and will display to potential future employers that you have been serious about carrying out your homework and deciding on where to apply.
Work experience can take various forms with the most common being work shadowing a legal professional, work experience placement at a firm of solicitors or a one of the formal vacation schemes run by some of the larger firms.
For more information about legal work experience, vacation schemes and non-legal work experience click one of the following links:
One To One Help With Your Search For A Training Contract
If you are struggling to succeed with your training contract applications, interviews or assessment centres in the current market one to one help is available.