The Importance of Legal Work Experience

Legal work experience is one of the most important things law firms look for in applications for training contracts, be it in the form of vacation schemes or otherwise.  It demonstrates to a firm a keen interest in the law as well as providing some evidence of real world practical experience.

The more connected the work experience is with the the type of firm the applicant is applying to, and the areas of law it works with, the more weight that work experience is likely to have with that firm.

It should also be remembered that many law firms use their vacation schemes as a way to pre-select candidates for interview for their training contract positions.  A vacation scheme gives the firm much more time to assess you than an interview affords and it also gives you much more time in which to make a positive impression.

Helping Your Decision Making

As well as adding power to a CV, vacation schemes also give candidates a chance to get to know specific firms better before deciding whether or not to apply for a training contract with them.  They also provide a more general insight into how law firms work.  This is often key for law students as the reality of practise is often quite different from the study of the same areas of law.

On a work placement you will get a much better sense of the culture of a firm and the people who work there.  This is invaluable information when it comes to deciding whether you want to apply to work there in the future.

Many students find that they had originally wanted to work for one type of firm but after doing a vacation scheme with that firm, or another firm for that matter, they changed their minds based on this practical experience.

Making Vacation Scheme Applications

Applications for vacation schemes are often even more competitive than for training contracts because candidates will seek to to do more than one placement.  With training contracts successful, however, candidates will only accept one position and reject any other offers they receive thus giving others the chance of receiving them.

Therefore, taking time to get your applications right is crucial.  Far too many candidates, however, do not take the application process seriously enough and try to rush off multiple applications which will have a very limited chance of success.

It is much better to spend some time researching the firms you want to apply to, what they are looking for in their vacation scheme candidates and putting together a well thought out and well presented application.  Quality rather than quantity is definitely the key here.

You should also ensure you take time over the presentation of your documents and get others to read over them for you to avoid simple mistakes such as spelling and grammar mistakes.  See the tips for CV’s and covering letters in the Training Contracts section of this site for some pointers you can equally apply to your applications for work experience.

Aim for Variation

Unless you absolutely know that you only want to work for a magic circle firm, try to add some variation into the work experience you go for.  This will help you with the decisions you make about where you ultimately want to train and work.

And Finally…

It really can’t be overstated how important it is to get a place on a vacation scheme, or gain some other form of work experience, given the current high level of competition for training contracts.

For more information about legal work experience placements and vacation schemes take a look at the legal work experience section of this site by clicking here:  Legal Work Experience & Vacation Schemes

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