Virtual Legal Work Experience
So, I am currently in my 2nd year of law, which would be the ideal time to apply for mini-pupillages or vacation schemes or whatever internships I can find. However, with COVID cases still high and lockdown still looming over us, these opportunities are simply not running at the moment. More and more legal work is being done from home, with remote court cases and law firms operating online, which means a lot of places are not in the position to be offering experience to law students. So, what can we do?
(1) Research & Reach Out
First things first, don’t give up looking for opportunities. There are some chambers and firms that are still advertising opportunities. Some are offering remote opportunities, some are accepting applications for when things open back up again!
If you come across a chamber / firm / organisation that you are really keen on but they are not advertising anything, feel free to still reach out! Send them an email, or use social media (if you LinkedIn or a professional Twitter that you use for career stuff only!) to contact someone who works there – express your interest in any opportunities and ask if they have any idea when they’ll be accepting applications again.
In your research, you may come across some chambers / firms that don’t currently have the means to offer any placements, but instead are offering webinars. For example, I recently attended the St. John’s Chambers Mini-Pupillage Webinar, where I heard from a few barristers practicing in different areas of the law. They each discussed their pathway to the Bar, then gave advice for (mini) pupillage applications. They also went through what they did on their day-to-day life as a barrister. It was really interesting to see that some of them didn’t have traditional routes to the Bar. One man even failed his first undergraduate degree in Maths and still went on to become a successful barrister!
(3) Public Lectures
Loads of universities across the country hold public lectures. The great thing about learning being online means that these public lectures are now super accessible to the entire public. Search “public lecture + [topic]” and see what you can find!
I recently had a careers meeting & discussed the importance of networking in the legal sector. I spent all of first year too anxious to attend any of the networking events and now that I want to attend, they aren’t running! However, you can still network! Connect with people on LinkedIn and Twitter, I find it’s best to reach out to recent graduates, such as pupils or those doing training contracts. They remember what it’s like to be a student and they are often really willing to help! It can be as simple as a chat over message, or even asking if they have 15-20 minutes to have a call on Teams / Zoom. If you do this, make sure you have questions prepared in advance and thank them greatly for their time.
Also, don’t overlook connections within the university! Have a quick stalk of your seminar tutors, professors, anyone in your department or related departments. See what their interests are, read some of their published works, and then reach out to ask if you could drop in (during their office hours!) to have a chat about their experiences.
(5) Work on your CV / applications / LinkedIn
Use this time to work on perfecting your application materials for when you are able to apply. Make sure your CV is up-to-date and submit it for feedback via the Careers Service on MyAdvantage. Prepare some answers to common application questions, such as why you want to become a [role]? Or what skills do you have? Just make sure that when it comes to applying for the opportunities, you adapt your CV and answers to each specific organisation!
You got this!