TSL looks at some useful extra curricular activities you can use to improve your legal CV, sound interesting and impress recruiters.
University Law Society
Competition for training contracts and vacation schemes is fierce, and being a member of your student law society will present you with numerous opportunities to help you stand out as a top candidate. We will take you through the many advantages that come with joining your student law society.
Most law schools and universities across the country will have a student-run law society. The majority of members will be law students but non-law students are welcome to join as well. The society provides a community for those interested in pursuing a career in the legal sector.
Law societies are usually one of the largest societies within a university and can be a great place to come together and discuss your course, career aspirations, and to help each other academically throughout the year.
First point of contact
As a member of the law society, you can rest assured that you will be one of the very first ones to hear about law firm opportunities and networking events. Networking is an exceptionally important skill that law firms would like you to have, and any opportunity to practice should be seized with both hands.
Most societies email their members regularly to keep them up date on exclusive employer presentations and networking opportunities happening on campus, as well as training contract/vacation scheme deadlines.
Employers appreciate candidates that exhibit a keen interest in their firms, and thus will like to see that you have taken the opportunity to meet with their representatives when they visit your university. This is a great way for you to get specific questions answered; as well as gaining first-hand insight into the culture of the firm. It is also an invaluable opportunity to get helpful hints and tips for your application.
Great CV boost
Law firms generally like to see that you have undertaken meaningful extracurricular activities, and that you have pursed other interests outside of your main academic studies. Taking advantage of the opportunities that law societies provide their members would certainly show an interest in pursing a legal career and will boost your CV.
Give your CV a further boost by obtaining a committee position in your law society.
Taking the initiative and running for a committee position will demonstrate to firms that you seize opportunities, and also that you want to play a key role in your law school. Running for a committee position is a great way to show that you are committed to a career in law, and a great way to demonstrate that you have a keen interest in improving the general student experience.
As a committee member, you will be the first point of contact for many law firms. You will be presented with the unique opportunity of reaching out to law firms and encouraging them to hold events at your university. Committee members are entrusted with providing the best opportunities for society members. It is a great way to distinguish yourself, as well as an excellent avenue for personal growth.
Committee members gain and develop a wide range of transferable skills that employers openly seek. Namely team work, organization, and dedication to the legal profession to name a few. By simply running and obtaining a committee position, you will be able to clearly demonstrate that you possess both leadership qualities and persuasive skills, as well as being able to take the initiative. As a result, you will undoubtedly gain a wide range of new experiences, as well as meeting lots of new people.
There is much to be gained by joining your student law society, and subsequently making full use of the opportunities that it presents!
Every year, the legal job market gets ever more competitive, with more and more students applying for an increasingly smaller number of jobs. This problem has been exacerbated with the current legal aid cuts in the public sector.
In addition to this, employers are finding it harder and harder to distinguish between the ‘top’ candidates for the job, as these days they all seem to have homogeneous qualifications: A/A*s at A-levels and GCSEs, a high 2.1 or First-class degree at University, and some standard Law work experience.
This means that one now needs to look outside their degree if they wish to differentiate themselves from the general law student masses. Luckily for any student, however, there are in fact a plethora of options open to anyone wishing to go down this route. The most popular extra curricular activities for law students are university law societies and pro bono. If neither of these interest you, we’ve put together some more extra curricular activity ideas.
Journalism and Online/Offline Publications
When you are a law student, you spend a lot of time writing a variety of essays in order to pass your degree. What better way to put this to use than by contributing to the legal debate in some way. Whether offline or online, there are plenty of legal organisations that could use your input. These may include (but are not limited to) journals, blogs, local and national newspapers, and websites such as the Student Lawyer! (Click here to see where you could fit into our team.)
As with many of these suggestions, a major motivating factor is the effect that these opportunities can have in boosting your CV. They demonstrate to any potential employer that you have a skillset and outlook that transcends sitting in lectures and reading books, by approaching legal work from a different angle.
Moreover, it can also widen and benefit your own understanding of a topic, by contributing in such a way to the wider legal debate, in a way that would be unlikely to happen merely in the classroom. Finally, this kind of activity can provide you with great opportunities via the creation of connections that will benefit your legal career.
Debating and/or Mooting
When studying law, most Universities tend to offer opportunities to have a go at either mooting, debating or both. This may be directly through the law faculty, or by a student run club. They are quite different activities, and which one you prefer would be dependent on your preferences (i.e. Mooting is much more lawyer-centric). Whichever one you do choose, however, they offer you a chance to build upon both your ability to construct good arguments, and to orally express them in front of audiences of various sizes.
Like many of these ‘activities’ discussed here, Debating/Mooting has the dual benefit of both looking good on your CV and improving skills that you can transfer into a future legal career. This can be especially relevant if you are looking into pursuing a career that is based on advocacy.
Read about all things mooting here.
Projects outside the University/Pro Bono
Looking outside the mere confines of your University, there are number of ways to get involved in the legal profession before qualifying, with the added benefits of being a great experience, helping others, and boosting one’s CV.
There are some really interesting projects out there, such as the Innocence Project, and all its variants, using students to tackle legal issues that have been forgotten about, and lawyers do not have the time to deal with. Again, these CV-boosting experiences also have a real world impact, allowing you to be able to make a difference. In a similar vein, Pro Bono clinics and the Free Representation Unit are all ways of being able to provide legal assistance, whilst benefiting yourself at the same time.
For the latest articles on pro bono activity, click here.
There are so many ways to broaden your legal study whilst at University, it would be remiss of you not to take advantage of at least one, whether because it would look impressive on your CV, it helps people, you gain from the experience, or all of the above. Make yourself stand out!