Heyyyy, possible law students/graduates reading this. You're probably here because you want advice. Well, I'm here to give it. It's so easy to plan how your life should go BUT hard to see it come to plan sometimes. Hmm! I mean, they say University helps you prepare for your career. The exams we had, the coursework, the dissertation, this does NOT help you figure out what you want to do, where you want to be after you finish. I mean, seriously. Life's HARD out there. The world is become so competitive making me so much more difficult for us to find jobs and we have to be so meticulous about the sort of law firm you want because your personality will suit a certain type of law firm.
I cannot STRESS how much work experience is important to have. If you KNOW you want to study law...if you're in college, make sure you try and get experience. Ask Law Firms if they have any work placements, make friends, go to law fairs and interact with people, network! It helps. Believe me!
I was sort of thinking and made my own list of the benefits of gaining work experience in the legal field. They may help...or not but check them out. Don't judge!
You're a law student...or graduate and you've been doing nothing but researching throughout your years at University. Well, it's not over...you have to research the FIRM you want to work at. The type of law you truly want to be involved in. Does that firm interest you? This will help you conclude and may help you make an informed decision on your career choice. So, work experience is important...believe me. The more experience you gain, the more opportunities you will have in the future. Firms will be impressed due to your hard work and commitment to wanting to gain experience. As for me, Child LAW and Family Law are the areas I love. I managed to get a 1st for my Child Law module during my LPC. That's how much I enjoyed it. I loved and still love Child Law. In fact, I still read the Child Law book (that's how much I love Child Law). I loved learning about Children in Need, the Child Protection Conference, Contact with Children in Need. That's one of the reasons I undertook my week long work experience at Coventry City Council. The cases were mostly Child Law related. I worked with a Senior Legal Officer and members of the legal team, attended legal meetings on Child Protection, carried out research and also did some minimal work such as filing. That was a great experience. That's one of the reasons why I chose to pursue a career in Child Law.
As a result of this, I went on to study the LPC...and actually chose Child Law as one of my electives as I studied the LPC. I wanted to gain more experience so when the opportunity showed up to volunteer as a Legal Assistant for this Family Pro Bono Scheme at Leicester Family Court, I jumped straight to it. Although its once a month, I had the experience of meeting and registering clients, assisting parties by explaining court procedures, observing interviews and attending court hearings from the duty solicitor. So, I love experiencing new things, especially if it has to do with Child Law.
2. Ask Questions
When you work at that place...ensure that you ask as many questions as you can. Do not just go there, do the work, get the experience then leave. Ask a lot of questions! Also the questions they ask you at Job Interviews can be shaped from your research and experience with other firms. You want to give a great impression, so ask intelligent questions. If you know little to nothing about the law that that firm specialises in, then simply show that you are willing to learn and be enthusiastic about your eagerness to learn and grow.
When I worked at Coventry City Council, I was so scared to ask questions. I was quite nervous because I didn't want to be bothersome but they were very accommodating and would even ask me if I had any questions. I think asking questions not only shows your interest but also shows your eagerness to learn too. The best person I remember speaking to was a Law Graduate and an LPC Graduate who was working there as a Paralegal but was going on to pursue a Training Contract the following month. I had the opportunity to learn what he did, his goals, his career plans, how he went on to obtain a Training Contract. So, I think it's important to obtain experience...definitely.
3. Be INVOLVED
Do not be SHY. They chose you for a reason. That's what I say to make myself feel worthy. Anyway, the whole point is, you're worth something, that's why they chose you. Remember, you are there to learn. So the best way of doing that is to get involved. My week was so awesome. I was given responsibilities such as research, attending meetings along with the Senior Solicitor - this was amazing because it gave me great confidence in what i would like to do in future and a an insight into what I would be doing as a Trainee Solicitor.
Ask for work if you feel like you are not contributing enough.
4. Do not COMPLAIN, just DO IT
Okay...so, as volunteers and students on work experience, we may be given tasks that we absolutely HATE. For example...FILING and PHOTOCOPYING. This is the opportunity for you to fake it. Yes...I said fake it. BUT think about it. It's beneficial too because you get experience of legal research and proofreading. It's not exciting BUT it plays an important role in legal work experience. I was fortunate enough to actually be given tasks such as filing and proofreading during my week at Coventry City Council. I would get so emotional being told 'thank you' because I knew everybody else had so much to do but I was of some use whilst I was there. In fact, it made me feel appreciated and that I wasn't wasting my time whilst I was there.
So, everything you DO and the experience you GET will help you in life.