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Article Written by James Tonge, Philosophy Undergraduate at The University of Manchester.
One way to help foster a career in law is to take up positions of responsibility. The field of law is incredibly competitive, so any position in which you can demonstrate that you held some sort of responsibility will help attain your dream job. This article will discuss some roles which would make an application stand out to a recruiter.
Arguably some of the most accessible roles are simply extracurricular activities. One example is student journalism. Many legal blogs, magazines, and websites welcome the thoughts and experiences of law students. As an alternative, writing for your school newspaper can help you hone your argumentative and communication skills and your awareness of current events. As a law student, you will likely find yourself with a magnitude of work, but taking up a position with extra responsibility will be attractive to employers. Student organisations and sports teams are another great way of demonstrating extra responsibility, especially if you take on a captain or admin role. Participating actively in a student organisation or sports team demonstrates to potential employers your ability to work as a team member, and your interests and hobbies outside of the legal profession. While your commitment to the law is crucial, law firms also want to know that they are selecting applicants with a variety of skills.
Away from extracurricular activities, there are more law-specific roles available. While it will undoubtedly be easier for a law student to attain these roles, non-law students should not be put off as partnering a non-law degree with legal experience will make you a desirable applicant in the legal job market. One example of this is pro bono work, which involves providing free legal counsel to those who don’t qualify for legal aid and otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford assistance, which is the most well-known form of volunteer work in the legal field. Students who participate in pro bono work help those in need while developing the practical legal skills necessary for a successful legal career. Law school can be very theoretical. However, working on pro bono assignments allows you to apply legal theory in a real-world setting which is a great asset for showcasing extra responsibility on your CV. As are mini-pupillages, which are essentially two-week vacation schemes for aspiring barristers. This usually involves shadowing a barrister, and they can range from one day to two weeks which may include attending a court hearing. Court experience demonstrates legal responsibility but is not accessible to all as obtaining it is incredibly competitive. However, most universities host debates and moot contests. In a moot, students take on the role of counsel and make arguments in a mock trial that is typically based on a made-up case. It involves carrying out legal research and analysis, drafting submissions, and giving an oral presentation; it assesses a student’s capacity to formulate arguments.
Legal recruiters are actively seeking graduates who have demonstrated that they can thrive with responsibility, so participating in some of the aforementioned schemes will undoubtedly make you an attractive candidate. While the extracurricular activities are more accessible and arguably more fun, this should not deter you from pursuing a vacation scheme or a mini-pupillage which requires a bit more work to achieve.