Your CV is crucial if you are wishing to secure a graduate job or some work experience. There is no particular way in which your CV should be organised but please see the following link for some helpful guidance on how you should structure a legal CV.
Don’t panic if your CV is not currently overflowing with impressive experience and achievements, there is still time to build upon your CV whilst at University. Things which you should consider participating in to add more relevant content include:
- Legal and Non-Legal Work Experience
Having a part-time job looks great on your CV as it allows you to develop skills such as communication and leadership which are relevant in any profession. Legal work experience or mini-pupillages are also highly valued as they demonstrate your commitment to the profession as well as allowing you to develop relevant legal skills.
- Volunteering/Pro-Bono Opportunities
Dedicating your free time to a cause or organisation is also a valuable way in which you can gain more experience, developing skills which you can demonstrate to future employers. Keep an eye out for projects which our Pro-Bono team will be running this year for your chance to get involved and build your CV.
- Clubs & Societies
This is a great way to get involved in fun activities that spark your interest. Whether it be sports, baking or debating, get involved and you will with no doubt gain some relevant experience to include on your CV. Click here for a list of clubs & societies. You could also set up your own society which would be an amazing to any CV.
- Opportunities within your department
There may be additional opportunities for experience and skill enhancing opportunities within your department. Within the Law Department, for example, you could get involved as a Student Ambassador, a Student Blogger or a Student Mentor.
- Activities within the Law Society
As a society we organise various events throughout the year to help you become more employable. Mooting, Negotiation and Lawyers Aware, for example, are competitions which you can take part in throughout the year which will give you great experience and skills. The Careers Service also organises valuable workshops and events which you can use to develop skills to include on your CV.
- Employability workshops and programmes
The University Careers Service at The Base hosts a variety of exciting careers opportunities that you can get involved in such as the Lancaster Award which is a popular employability programme that many students work towards. Simply search on TARGETconnect for such events or keep any eye on our Facebook page and get involved.
- Legal Events
Many firms and organisations organise a variety of events throughout the year which you can apply to attend such as Firm Open Days and employability talks and workshops.
Legal Work Experience
Obtaining legal work experience can be difficult at times but it is important that you demonstrate both an interest in the legal profession and a range of legal skills to potential employers. Below you will find a selection of different things you can do to demonstrate that you have some legal experience.
- Insight days/Open days
- Vacation schemes
- Ad-hoc work experience
- University Law Society
- Law Firms open days & workshops
- Part-time job
The following is a step by step guide on how to network effectively, along with some links which you may find useful.
Before the networking event in question you need to research and prepare. The purpose of an event such as this is to talk to representatives from a particular firm and learn things that you can’t find out anywhere else. Don’t ask questions that you could easily find the answer to on their graduate website. Your aim is to make a connection and leave a lasting impression with your potential future employer and to help move yourself forward in deciding on your future career. When researching a firm think about their ethos, what business areas they specialise in and what they value in their applicants and plan your conversation around this research. This shows that you have good knowledge and a genuine interest in their firm and can help you establish a meaningful conversation. You may find the following links helpful:
2. Introducing yourself
Although you may be nervous, try to be confident, enthusiastic and most importantly, friendly. Don’t be casual and careless, you need to be as professional as possible. Remember to introduce who you are and give the representative a firm handshake (but not too strong!).
3. Beginning the conversation
Avoid awkward silences at all costs. You can’t wait for representatives to strike up a conversation with you but you have to actively engage in conversation yourself. Things to think about to begin your discussion could be why you are interested in law, why you are interested in that particular firm, if you have any relevant experience or what you hope to achieve in the future. After you begin a conversation things usually flow and it will become easier and less daunting.
4. Asking questions
Before you begin asking any questions, think about who you are speaking to. Is the representative a member of the firm’s recruitment team or are they are current trainee? If you have this in mind you can tailor your questions to the representative’s own personal experiences i.e. you could ask a member of the recruitment team questions about the recruitment process or you could ask a current trainee about how they are finding working at the firm and how their training is progressing and so on. Below are some bullet points on areas you can base your questions around. This is not an exhaustive list, you can ask any questions you would like to know the answer to but please do remember to not ask questions you can easily find answers to on their website.
- What does the firm look for in CVs
- What makes an applicant really stand out
- What really impresses in interviews/assessment centres
- Where do people go wrong in the application process
- Does the structure seat rotation give trainees a good experience of all areas of law
- Where/How did they gain work experience and internships
- Why did they personally choose to work at this firm
- Is there anything they find challenging
- In their opinion, what makes their firm stand out
- What is an average day like
- What is the atmosphere in the firm like
- Where is the heart of the firm
- Best/Worst part of the job
- What is the work/life balance like
- What is the most interesting/demanding/challenging case they have worked on
- Are there additional opportunities offered within the firm
- How are you assessed as an employee
5. What NOT to ask
Under no circumstances should you ask any of the following questions. I will repeat, please DO NOT ask any of the following questions.
- When the application process opens
- How many trainees do they recruit per year
- What areas of law they practice
- Where are their offices
- Why should I work for you
Things to think about:
- CV – Have one ready and on hand but don’t assume that they want a copy.
- Notepad – Don’t be afraid to take a notepad to take down key information. It may also be helpful to make a list in order of who you are going to speak to, if possible. If you are not confident in your networking skills and are really hoping to impress a particular firm then it may be wise to go to another firm first and network with them as a practice run until you are confident.
- Be mannerly and don’t monopolise a representative – A number of other people will want to talk to the firm as much as you do so be polite and don’t talk over others, especially the representative if they are still answering a question another student has asked. Be patient and at some point you will get the opportunity to ask your questions. If not, come back later and explain to the representative that you did not get the opportunity to ask them your question, and I am sure they would be more than happy to answer it for you then. This will be far more professional and impressive than constantly interrupting and talking over others.
- Keep in contact – I would highly recommend trying to keep in contact with some of the representatives if possible and politely ask for a business card, if they don’t mind of course.
- Review – After the event make sure to review the information you have just learned. How can you better your applications in the future? How can you improve on any skills and experience where you may be lacking? What have you taken away from the event and how can you improve or expand on what you are already doing?
Careers from first to final year
Many students feel unsure about what they should be focusing on throughout their year at University which is why the following career timeline has been developed to help you with the process.
- Generally engage with the profession, have a good understanding of where you want to go, and how you are going to get there.
- Research firms to find out more about what is suitable for you.
- Develop your skills and build your CV by joining clubs/societies, attending workshops and taking part in various skill enhancing opportunities organised by the Law Society as well as the University’s Careers Service.
- Attend firms open days, insight days and workshops. Some may require an application process.
- Attend networking events.
- Arrange work experience in a range of legal work: Solicitor’s Firms, In-house Legal Departments, Council Legal Departments, Crown Prosecution Service etc.
- Study for a 2:1 or above.
- During this year you should continue to research firms, develop your skills and enhance your CV.
- Networking events.
- Apply for vacation schemes. These often have a deadline of the 31st January, although this may vary. They can be difficult to secure but are by no means unachievable. Vacation schemes will usually last one or two weeks, working in a variety of legal departments with the vast majority of firms paying you while you gain experience.
- June – complete and return registration card for the Legal Practice Course (LPC) Central Applications Board (they send form late summer). Investigate sources of funding for LPC.
- March – July – apply for training contracts which often have a 31st July deadline, although this may vary – this is especially important if you want to train with a City firm or large commercial practice. Smaller firms may not be in a position to offer training contracts so far in advance. Research training opportunities. Interviews are held throughout the spring and summer.
- Get prepared for interviews and assessment centres which are typical of the recruitment process.
- Study for a 2:1 or above.
- Through August to December, interviews for training contracts at large firms will take place.
- Return LPC application form to Central Applications Board (closing date early December – but check) and register with them.
- During February you should apply for student membership of The Law Society (closing date end of March).
- In May you will be confirming your acceptance of LPC place.
- Study for a 2:1 or above.
- Details of your degree will be sent to the Law Society in July and during this period you should also apply to small firms for training contracts.
- In September you will begin studying for your LPC.
- Research the profession and have a good understanding of where you want to go and how you are going to get there.
- Arrange work experience in a range of legal work: Mini-pupillages, In-house Legal Departments, Council Legal Departments, Crown Prosecution Service etc.
- Apply for formal mini-pupillages with sets you are interested in joining. Like vacation schemes for solicitors these are hard to get, however are essential if you want to practise at the Bar
- Consider joining an Inn of Court early to take advantage of its facilities and opportunities for learning about practice at the Bar.
- September – November
- Apply for a place on the Bar Professional Training Course through BPTC Online which can be found by following this link.
- May onwards
- Investigate pupillages and be ready to apply for pupillage through the Pupillage Gateway which can be found by following this link.
- All available pupillages must be listed on this website from Chambers so you should get used to this website!
- Degree Results send to Bar Council
- Join an Inn if you have not done so already
- Start BPTC (With a view to starting a Pupillage in September of the following year)