Work experience is one of the most sought-out opportunities and a significant part of your development both professionally and personally. As a non-law student, legal experience is key to helping you gain exposure and expand your legal background, while providing you with an insight of what the legal profession can offer. It plays a crucial part in helping you decide if this career is for you and why.
Although in theory work experience is a great opportunity, the reality is that as a non-law student you are competing against thousands of law students (and other non-law students) for competitive places on legal work experience schemes with firms and chambers. This can be a daunting experience; with a potentially limited legal knowledge base, how can you compete and successfully secure legal work experience?
As a non-law student, gaining legal work experience is a great way for you to experience the profession first hand! But do not put all your eggs in one basket and worry about not being able to secure a legal work experience placement straight away, there are an endless amounts of possibilities which can provide you with invaluable experience and compliment your aspirations.
The best advice I received in terms of building up legal experience was to think outside the box, so I did and here are a few places that I found along the way which turned out to be greats for gaining confidence and experience.
Citizens Advice is a wonderful charity project which provides legal support to those who would otherwise struggle to access it! Getting involved with Citizens Advice is a great way for you to use your spare time volunteering for a good cause, help your local community, and gain some legal experience and exposure! You receive full training for most of the roles, which means as a non-law student it is a great opportunity to get involved with some law-focused work without being hindered by your degree background!
If you are a university student, getting involved with your university law society is a great way to interact with law students and join in with a variety of activities that the societies offer, such as mooting and negotiation competitions. Most people are under the misconception that you cannot join the law society if you do not study law, however, most law societies have a committee member especially for integrating non-law students into the society and the whole society is happy to welcome non-law students with an interest in law!
Businesses and companies
Most businesses and companies have a legal department, which provides endless possibilities for potential work experience. Experience within a legal department can be a great insight into a different area of being a legal professional that you may not have considered, as well as helping you to increase your commercial awareness.
The most important part of work experience, however, is not where you acquired the experience from, but how it has shaped you into the professional and personal individual that you are afterwards. Employers want to know what you have learnt and taken away from work experience, and no experience will ever be wasted experience as long as you make the most of the opportunity in front of you.
The key to gaining valuable work experience is to find things that you are genuinely interested in being involved in and expand your knowledge and skills in every direction possible. Everything we experience shapes us into the candidate that we present to the legal world; do not compare your experiences to anybody else and do not expect to experience things the same way as others do. Be yourself and don’t let your degree background trick you into thinking that legal work experience is something out of your reach - there are more possibilities out there than you may think!
So, what are you waiting for?