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If you're just starting out in a career in law, undertaking an internship or a work experience placement is a great way to develop your experience and knowledge of the legal profession.
You have an ambition to undertake your traineeship at Firm X. Before you commit to them, find out what it's like to work there! Whilst you won't get the work you would as a solicitor, you CAN get a snapshot into the company culture and types of work they undertake. Plus you can speak to trainees, new lawyers, established solicitors about what it's like to work there and what opportunities might be available to you in growing your career.
When it's time to apply for the all-important traineeship it can serve you well to have an established with a firm or organisation. If you've done an internship or a work experience placement with them it might help prove your commitment to and interest in the company, plus they will remember you if you did a great job and demonstrated the attributes and skills they look for in a trainee. Why would they pick someone they know nothing about over someone they know has proven they can do an impressive job and has shown their keenness to work there from an early stage?
These opportunities are extremely competitive as it's widely perceived that 'getting your foot through the door' at this stage can have a positive effect on your chances of securing future employment.
Some bigger firms/organisations offer structured work experience placements, usually over the summer holidays. Watch out for closing dates and research these early, as they can often be before Christmas. Typically these opportunities will be advertised on their website.
This means applying without there being a specific advert for an opportunity, but getting in touch with a company to express your interest and highlight your abilities nonetheless. Smaller and medium sized firms rarely advertise their opportunities, so speculative applications are essential. Speculative applications should include your CV and a strong covering letter outlining what you are looking for, and making your case for why you should be considered.
Use the Society's Find A Solicitor function to identify which legal firms operate close to where you are based, or who undertake work in subject areas that interest you.
Make sure you also attend your University's Law Fair, where you will be able to meet employers and sound out their opportunities. Also, if you make a great impression, they might well remember you when you come to apply. Law Fairs are organised by the Universities and further details will be available from their respective careers services.
The Law Society of Scotland offers 4 week-long work experience placements. Click here to find out more.