Position yourself for a legal career

If you’re feeling like your legal (or other) career plans have stalled as a result of Covid19 and the current social distancing measures here’s some suggestions for how you might get back on track.

Reflect: develop your understanding of what motivates you!

Consider what is most important to you and the values that will influence your decisions on the type of work you do and who you work for including your specific interests.  These may have been highlighted through your course, extra-curricular activities and work experience.  Which ones have you found most motivating and why?  Think about the skills (and strengths) you love using – how important is it that the work you do enables you to use and develop these skills?  Use these insights to focus on job sectors/roles that are likely to suit you.  The information will enable you to align yourself with employers and law firms that may be a good fit for you.  This helps to focus your research and networking (it’s time efficient) and subsequently enables you to articulate your value (and fit) during the application process.

Get experience & network with employers

Employers place a high value on the skills you develop through your degree and more particularly through your extra-curricular activities and work experience.  Whilst it might feel like your plans for gaining further experience this summer have ground to a halt there are options available.  Some employers may have delayed their internship offers or converted them to virtual internships.

Virtual Internships include: 

InsideSherpa is a platform which offers access to free virtual internships with a wide range of leading graduate recruiters including top commercial law firms (there is also an internship for Human Rights Law).  These provide a great opportunity to gain further insight into sectors and employers that interest you.  They include the opportunity to get involved with work tasks similar to those you might do as a graduate trainee and develop your commercial awareness.  The insights gained will help you decide whether this type of work and employer is for right for you prior to making further applications.

Bright Network is launching its live Virtual Internship Programme in June 2020.  The internship is free and takes place over 3 days and provides access to experience in 6 sectors (commercial law, banking, consulting, business & operations, technology and engineering).  Participants can gain experience in more than 1 sector (providing sessions are not running concurrently).   The internship has been developed in collaboration with 30 leading graduate recruiters including Accenture, EY, Clyde & Co, Goldman Sachs and the UK Parliament.  Specialist sector modules are delivered by graduate employers.  Sector modules include an introduction (e.g. to commercial law and practice areas, a day in the life of a trainee, associate and partner), a core sector skills session (includes drafting for commercial law) and work related tasks and projects which are completed over day 2 and 3 of the internship.  Students interested in taking part complete a short application of 150 words stipulating why they would like to do the internship and the sector they are interested in. 

There may be other options available so it is worth checking careers and job sites including the University’s myAdvantage database.

Volunteering & other opportunities

Check out opportunities to volunteer in your local community.  Look out for community pages on Facebook and other social media platforms and NHS Volunteers  LawCareers.Net provides a list of organisations offering Pro Bono initiatives and you can also get involved with the United Nations and its work via UN Online Volunteers

Other opportunities include essay writing and other competitions and legal projects like the one recently launched by Warwick Law School Alumna Zeenat Islam (Barrister at 25 Bedford Row) to help plug the gaps left by the loss of some work experience and mini-pupillages.  In addition entrepreneurial students who spot a gap in the market can end up creating work experience opportunities like the three Warwick LLM students who set up a website called Law Miracle to provide information on current legal and commercial news.

Keep Learning

There are a wide range of learning opportunities available including those organised by Warwick and the wider community.  Warwick Student Opportunity Careers team launched its Summer Careers Webinar Programme this week with a series of webinars taking place from week 6 onwards.  The Skills team is offering a series of online events and Warwick Enterprise an online Summer Programme.  Some graduate employers and careers platforms may also be offering online support e.g. Bright Network’s series of weekly careers webinars. There are also a wide range of free online learning courses (e.g. Future Learn and some OU courses).  The National Careers Service Website includes a List of where to find free online learning.

Explore: sectors and opportunities 

Now is a great time to undertake that all important research. Use your knowledge and understanding of what motivates and interests you to identify employers and firms that align with your values.  Draw up a shortlist of those you want to research in more depth and identify further questions that you have that can’t be answered by the employer’s website.  This will enable you to hit the ground running in the Autumn Term and impress employers with your preparation and knowledge of their business at careers fairs and employer networking events.   Anticipate the future – imagine you were asked at interview ‘How did you make best use of time spent in lockdown during Covid19?’ 

Valerie Matthews-Lane

Senior Careers Consultant for the School of Law

May 2020

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