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Firm recruiters continually stress the importance of work experience and how essential it is that candidates present themselves as proactive, prepared and serious about a career in law.
Most jobs, internships and work placements will be relevant to life as a lawyer. Whether you have worked in a supermarket or a garage, or spent time in an office environment, you should be able to demonstrate that your experience has developed a range of skills and knowledge that will stand you in good stead as a trainee.
You've done your homework, studied the stats, read up on practice areas, and compared the firms that've caught your eye – now, it's time to put your best foot and application forward.
There's no delaying the inevitable, and, as graduate recruiters were keen to tell us when we collected our list of relevant tips, procrastination rarely improves an application. So, take the time to browse over these deadlines, make a schedule and pace yourself accordingly – you'll do great.
Our thanks to Norton Rose Fulbright for sponsoring this table.
As good bargains go, vacation schemes stand out as amazing 3-for-1 deals: for just a few weeks of your time, you get to improve your resume, brush up your legal skills and, best of all, you can see first-hand what life's truly like at your favourite law firm before committing to the full training contract experience.
Because we know a number of you are set on giving vacation schemes a try, we've put together a collection of application deadlines to help you along. Many thanks to Taylor Wessing for sponsoring the Vacation Scheme Deadlines table.
Legal work experience is notoriously difficult to secure, and graduate recruiters are fully aware of this. It can take a lot of time and commitment to secure this, but please do persist as your application will be stronger, and it really will highlight your motivation and determination for a career in law. Larger law firms are typically exceptionally busy over the summer with vacation schemes, so target your efforts to the high street firms as well as Legal Advice Centres and Citizens Advice Bureaus. Any form of legal work experience is valuable in helping you to develop the confidence towards, and commitment to, a legal career.
It is important to have a good rest from your studies and enjoy a well-deserved break, but think about how you might be able to use your time productively to help prepare for the year ahead and your future career.
There are plenty of opportunities throughout the summer for you to gain valuable transferable skills that can help you stand out from the crowd. Whether you volunteer, complete a work placement abroad, sign up for an additional short course or work throughout the holidays, all provide you with the chance to further develop and build skills that employers will be looking out for.
Completing a vacation scheme over the summer is certainly a good way to obtain real-world experience as life as a trainee. But, your personal development shouldn't stop once the summer comes to a close. Instead, reflect on your experience and the work you undertook so that you can confidently discuss your vacation scheme in future applications and at interviews.
Are there skills or areas which you need to develop? If so, think about how you can gain experience in these areas by speaking to your careers advisor, attending skills sessions or obtaining future work experience.
At the end of a vacation scheme, two outcomes await. Either way, the opportunity a scheme presents is not bound by its one-, two-, or three-week period - that time merely serves as a platform to build upon.
Truly learning from the experience should be your priority; recognising what you did well and not so well is key to improving, whether to become a better solicitor when starting a training contract or increasing your chances of success during your next vacation scheme. A self-evaluation can be immensely beneficial here. Equally, if feedback from the firm is not readily given, ask for it. Beyond initially discussing your performance, remain in contact with your recent colleagues; you’ve been handed a great networking platform, so make the most of it.
Freddie Mehlig is in his final year of Law at the University of Bristol. He completed vacation schemes with Kennedys and Capsticks in 2014, and will begin his training contract with Kennedys in September 2016. He is therefore well-placed to share with us his advice on all things vacation schemes…
The Government Legal Department (GLD) has launched its summer vacation scheme. The GLD, formerly known as the Treasury Solicitor’s Department, is the largest in-house office within the Government Legal Service (GLS). The 1,700-strong team provides services to more than 180 central government departments and other publicly funded bodies, and also collects Bona Vacantia (unclaimed estates of people who have died) on behalf of the Crown.
As pre-training contract legal experience goes, vacation schemes are the big one. Now well-established and ubiquitous in the industry, vacation schemes are a great way to experience first-hand life at a law firm, and to see if the employer, and career, matches your interests. It’s also an opportunity to impress and enhance your prospects, with several vac schemes also offering training contract interviews at the end of the placement. All that said, it still requires giving up two weeks’ precious holidays, during which you will have other commitments including, perhaps ironically, working hard towards securing the impressive academic grades so valued by law firms! So in signing up for a vacation scheme, what exactly are you getting in return?
Because we know a number of you are set on giving vacation schemes a try, we've put together a collection of relevant application deadlines to help you along. Many thanks to Taylor Wessing for sponsoring the following information table:
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