There are so many ways to maximise your summer without being consumed with law – at least not 24/7. The 2020 summer wasn't exactly what we had strived for, but now as it's time to breathe in a sense of freedom as the lockdown rules begin to ease.
For many aspiring lawyers, we forget that there's a life away from law school. Too often we think that if we're not studying, engaging in legal work experience, or attending legal networking events, we're missing out on the opportunity to be the best lawyers we can be. Although we should be using our summers to get ahead, getting ahead in law doesn't always need to have a complete legal focus.
Forage (formerly 'InsideSherpa')
Thankfully, the development of these platforms allows people from every background to gain insight and skills in various industries. Some of the activities available on this platform are the activities that firms use as part of their vacation schemes. I’m sure the majority of us log onto Forage and head straight to the 'Law Virtual Experience Programs', without taking much notice of the other available programmes. The platform allows you to experience virtual programmes in the technology, finance, accounting, consulting, HR, marketing, social impact and engineering industries. This will demonstrate to legal employers that you are proactive in your learning and seeking opportunities. It will also have you thinking in different ways. The knowledge gained in such programmes can be transferred into practice areas and be added to your CV.
Working on your CV
This is a great time to be working on your CV. Summer is the best season to reflect on your experiences and goals – both short term and long term. Using this season to reflect helped me to identify areas for improvement. You can get creative by working on the tone, format, and presentation of your CV – this really helps your CV stand out to employers. I also used the time to identify the sectors that interested me – for example, banking litigation and fashion law, based on my experiences in working in banking and for a luxury fashion brand. Getting your CV ready over the summer will get you ahead for application season, increase your employability and help you demonstrate your passion for an area of law.
Voluntary work is a great way to experience the industry. Volunteering allows you to demonstrate a passion for your area of law. Organisations such as the Citizens Advice Bureau and Free Representation Unit offer the opportunity to get involved in real-life cases and you can develop skills that are directly transferrable skills to law. For non-legal organisations, you can look at St John's Ambulance Service, National Trust, or even your local theatre group. This can help highlight your passion for medical law, environmental law, media and entertainment law. Volunteering for your local theatre group can be useful for a career at the Bar, to develop your public speaking and organisational skills. You can also visit LCN’s volunteering section to find out more about the available opportunities, or your university’s career hub.
The good thing about a summer away from restrictions is that there will be part-time work available for all. This is a great way to earn money to prepare for any unpaid legal experience that you wish to undertake and even to fund professional legal courses. Part-time work over the summer allowed me to save up for legal events in London that I may not have been able to attend.
As well as this, working is a great way to increase your commercial awareness. While working in banking, I was exposed to various industry updates and issues affecting the industry, including the role of technology in fraudulent transactions. Such experiences inspired me to write a dissertation on financial crime – remember that the banking and financial industry need lawyers, and this is no different for other industries. Your client will thank you for having a first-hand understanding of the work that they do. You can combine this with virtual work experiences, volunteering or enjoying your hobbies – many firms will admire your time management and hard work. Work doesn’t always need to feel like work, especially when you see it as a break away from studying.
Most importantly remember it’s the summer, so have fun!