With social distancing measures in force across the country, Laura McLay, a third-year law student at the University of Edinburgh, looks at the virtual ways aspiring legal professionals can develop their skills and gain work experience online.
Placements cancelled? Plans changed? Your summer holidays may be looking very different to those envisaged pre-pandemic.
Whether you are at school or university, here are some free online resources to help you use your time productively. Participating in these will show future employers your ability to take initiative and your commitment to a legal career, whilst working towards tangible goals will help you stay motivated and positive during difficult times.
Virtual Work Experience
Online internships provide you with the opportunity to explore different areas of law to find where your interests lie. Upon completion, you will earn a certificate to evidence your early engagement with that firm for future applications and to show you have developed the skills needed to work there, by trying out trainee solicitor tasks.
Don’t forget to enrol in internships offered in other sectors, such as consulting, technology and finance, to develop your awareness of the interconnected nature of the commercial world.
Check out the website InsideSherpa, which offers free, online internships with law, consulting, technology and accounting firms. These are open to all and take around five to six hours to complete.
Career organisations, such as Bright Network and Legal Cheek, also host free, live online internships and vacation schemes with businesses in different sectors. Keep an eye on their websites for future opportunities and application deadlines.
Virtual Law Fairs
A fantastic way to meet representatives from lots of law firms and gain an insight into a firm beyond its website is to attend a law fair.
Talking to legal professionals about their experiences working in a particular firm will enable you to see if that firm is right for you on a personal level – helping you avoid writing generic applications. You can also ask trainees and graduate recruitment for tips and advice.
Take a look at Bright Network’s website to register for free online CV and application workshops, as well as sessions on developing your commercial awareness.
Follow law firms’ graduate recruitment pages on social media to sign up for their webinars to learn about topics, such as firm culture and Day in the Life of their solicitors.
Attending these events gives you the opportunity to meet lots of new people. Setting up a LinkedIn account is one of the best ways to continue the conversation online with your new connections and expand your network.
It’s also one of the first places career-related opportunities are posted – solicitors, advocates and barristers advertise Q&A sessions for students on here, and trainees also post tips, links and sign ups to virtual moots and legal competitions.
Free Online Courses
OpenLearn, FutureLearn, Coursera and edX offer courses in law, languages, finance and technology among many to expand your knowledge, show commitment to personal development and earn a certificate of completion.
Check out the Volunteer Scotland website to find remote volunteering opportunities, from social calls to United Nations volunteering. You can help make a real impact, whilst building interpersonal skills, such as communication and teamwork.
If you do find yourself with extra time on your hands, take this summer as an opportunity to do what you didn’t previously have time to. Whether that’s learning to play the guitar in the attic or Japanese for your 2022 holiday, be creative!