Isla Grant - Summer of law: what you can usefully be doing while on holiday
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For many, the summer holiday period is all about watching loads of sport on the telly, afternoons in the pub and generally having a great time with not a care in the world, right? Wrong! It's a cut-throat business, and it is wise to spend some time over your holidays thinking ahead to the next academic year.
There are a few things that you can do in preparation. First, we suggest you gain some legal work experience over the break. If you haven't got a vac scheme or mini-pupillage lined up, there are still other routes in. This might mean sending a speculative letter to your local high-street firm, community law centre or Citizens Advice Bureau asking for voluntary work or shadowing. Alternatively, you could think about contacting your local court centre to see if it is possible to do some judge marshalling or even just sit in on a few cases. At the very least, you should go to your local court and observe the law in action - most trials are open to the public, so just turn up and see how it all works.
If you're struggling to get legal experience, you need to think about how you can spin the things that you ARE doing so as to appeal to prospective firms. For example, working in a bar or shop - you're dealing with (sometimes tricky) customers, managing your time, handling enquiries and working within a team. All useful skills that are a part of every lawyer's daily working life. What about getting involved with voluntary work in your community? That always looks good on a CV, plus you have the warm glow of doing some actual good!
In addition, you can start to think about the sorts of firm you might be interested in applying to next year. Some questions to ask yourself include: What sort of law interests me? Does size matter? Does location matter? Does money matter? To enjoy some face-to-face time with different firms, you should be attending all the law fairs and firm presentations that you can fit in, most of which take place in October and November. To keep abreast of which firm is doing what when, check out the LCN Diary and pencil them into your wall planner (you've got a wall planner, right?).
And to get some in-depth insight into what it's like working at either a City or a national UK firm, you should consider applying to attend one of our LawCareersNetLIVE conferences. They offer unrivalled access to a handpicked selection of firms, with panels and workshops, and plenty of opportunity to network with recruiters and lawyers.
Finally, remember that excellent academic grades are essential. You need to be aiming for a 2.1 or higher, so at this stage you may even like to get ahead with your reading for next year - nothing wrong with reading Chitty on Contracts by the pool or on the beach! Happy holidays!