Updated: Jun 17, 2020
This article aims to do the hard work, so you do not have to. It talks about the ways which people have found most helpful when thinking about work experience during the uncertain times of COVID-19.
The New Struggle
As you are aware, legal work experience is as rare as hens’ teeth and with much despair, it is forcefully drilled into our brains that we must have solid work experience before 'even thinking about training contracts'. Undeniably, there is a lot of pressure placed on our shoulders (and sadly that turns into tension headaches, mostly) before we even finish law school, causing many people to stop pursuing the profession they dream of before even starting.
Even if you have the tools to gain work experience, COVID-19 has undoubtedly thrown a spanner in the works regarding the process of securing work experience. There are, however, many placements still out there - not only to get you through the laborious days of lockdown but also to enhance your experience and skillset.
Newsletters and Organisations
Subscribing to reputable legal newsletters ('Lawyer 2B' for example) will allow you to become aware of many opportunities, rather than just searching for these prospects as a lone ranger. They are constantly updated with the latest news items and are particularly useful tools to broaden your horizons by getting to know more firms, sectors, and other legal professions.
Keeping up to date, along with becoming members of legal organisations aimed at students such as 'Legal Cheek' and 'Bright Network', who both offer virtual internships for law students with minimal application processes, is invaluable. They also offer webinars and events, even during normal times without a pandemic, to enhance your commercial awareness and networking skills. A tip when thinking about applying for your free membership is that they offer events, workshops and experiences exclusively for members. What does this mean for you? It essentially means that law firms will only offer work experience through one of these programmes, creating unique opportunities exclusively for you!
'Aspiring Solicitors' is another organisation focusing on diversity in the legal profession. If you have a protected characteristic or come from a background with little access to move between social strata, then this is a programme for you! Although competitive, they have various opportunities for you to get involved with in order to increase your employability rate and develop you as a desirable candidate.
These three organisations may help you secure the work experience and skills needed for the long-term goal of becoming a legal professional.
One for the commercial legal eagles is a website and Instagram account that I personally recommend, 'Legal and The City' (@legalandthecity). This blog follows the journey of a future trainee at a magic circle law firm who, in her free time, offers guidance, application reviews, and mock interviews in relation to the legal profession. As a subscriber myself, this is a platform where I have learned about different sectors and have had practising lawyers review my CV which has proved effective to secure placements and virtual internships. These free services should be taken advantage of as they can help you in both the short and long term, as well as developing your skills to implement in your applications. As an LATC subscriber, you will be able to use these resources and have access to them earlier than everyone else.
Another Instagram account that has also branded as a website is @lucydoeslaw. She is a two-time vacation scheme holder who carries out collaborations with other legal bloggers, permitting insight into the legal world. Her vlogs and posts on commercial awareness, employability, and understanding firms will definitely heighten your exposure of other legal dimensions. In order to make use of this, definitely head over to her Instagram.
On a side note, Lucy also provides other tips on revision too, so that you can find out other useful ways to revise. I have personally utilised these techniques, ones I never before thought of.
LinkedIn is a way to connect, network, and chat with other professionals in the sector for which you are striving. The good news is that most of them are willing to chat. They post many opportunities that you may be eligible for, and this is how I have secured many in the past. LinkedIn is also a great way to monitor the activities of others with similar interests so that you can also take advantage of these opportunities that people are sharing with you!
Evidently, social media is a great way to find opportunities and get your name out in the open and competitive market, that is the 'legal world'. By being exposed to these opportunities, and exploiting these thusly, it will increase your chances of securing work experience during this pandemic.
Sponsored Virtual Internships
A key platform, InsideSherpa, is a platform where you can complete virtual internships and gain recognition for the work you do by obtaining a certificate from the company at the end. These virtual internships will improve your CV for your future training contract applications, or other application forms that you may need to fill out. The virtual internships, sponsored by some high-profile companies, allows you to develop talking points and legal knowledge for interviews and in turn, growing yourself as an individual.
What Can I Do Now?
As a student overblown by a pandemic, you have to accept that you have been affected by this uncontrollable situation. It is most definitely challenging, but you can do something about your so-called ‘feared unemployability’ and take up these opportunities for your future. So, I leave you with this when thinking about your employability - 'subscribe, connect, improve'.
Whilst this article has focused on the 4 walls of legal life, the ideas can be adopted into other professions including business, finance, and marketing.