Free Legal Training, Courses & Experience? Volunteer!
Here we will look at some of the ways you can get legal training and experience without needing to pay massive course fees. As an added bonus you will also be helping people in your local community. It’s a win win situation! This advice is good for everyone – students, professionals or even those who have no legal experience.
Citizens Advice Bureaux Training
You can get an NVQ Level 3 & 4 in advice if you complete the CAB training and become a full adviser. You will also get loads of experience which will help you in any kind of job – not just law.
First of all you will learn all about the key principles of the CAB (free, independent, impartial and confidential advice) and the type of advice they offer. Then you begin to learn how to deal with the members of the public who may be upset or angry about the situation they find themselves in.
Dealing with clients emotions and building trust with them is a great skill to learn. This will mean you are over prepared in the future if you come up against a difficult client in a professional capacity.
Next you will be taught to identify the main problems affecting the client. This goes beneath the surface of what the client has told you. You should begin to see the issues the client has and start to ask the right questions. This is vital as a client, for example, may not know that they only have a set amount of time to appeal against a benefits decision. When you identify this problem you would ask the client when relevant paperwork or letters were received so you can help them in time.
You will also receive the training you need in order to begin to provide real advice to clients. This could be by learning the basics of a legal area or being provided with the resources to look up and research the law yourself. The legal areas you will cover are quite diverse:
- Relationship / Dispute
- Discrimination / Rights
Undoubtedly the best experience to be gained comes from your face to face, or over the phone, interaction with clients. Training is no substitute for real life experience. As you progress more specialist training and development may become available to you. Also if you’re after a training contract working at the CAB (as an adviser) can take 6 months off the 2 years required! Note: this my personal experience from a certain bureaux, different locations may have slight variations on training.
Volunteer at other free advice providers
There are other volunteer institutions in addition to the CAB. The training you get will be similar to the CAB training mentioned above but will obviously be more more to do with the area the charity deals with. Here is a list of charities who accept volunteers and provide training:
Shelter – A housing and homelessness charity. Volunteering here you could be analysing data, writing policy reports and managing campaigns for change. The work you do could even have an effect on future legislation. You will be provided with all the relevant training in order to complete these tasks.
Law Centre – Law Centres are not for profit legal practices who offer advice to disadvantaged people. Solicitors do work at the Law Centres which means volunteers can learn loads from them. You could end up being in some sort of volunteer paralegal or legal assistant role. Most training will probably be done on the job but should greatly increase your changes of getting a paid role in the future.
Free Representation Unit – Provides free representation to members of the public. You will need to undergo training, tests, observe a tribunal and attend office training before you can take your own case. You will learn about everything you need to know about tribunal procedure. You could be working on an employment tribunal, social security appeal, or criminal injury compensation case.
The charity legal sector is an incredibly rewarding career choice and volunteering at one of these institutions could lead to a full time paid role.
Volunteer at law firms
This is the hardest way to get the training but perhaps the most beneficial if you want to go into commercial law. It can also lead to a job if you’re lucky. Simply go to your local high street law firm and ask if they want any help. If they don’t move onto the next one. Simple! The great thing about this experience is you will get lots of useful training about paperwork and formalities.
This is something that could make you more valuable than someone who has completed a course; you have practical training and could be of use in a role straight away. If you’re a graduate already then it makes you an even better candidate; you will have theoretical and practical knowledge. You can ask if you can volunteer just a few days a week to fit it around your course / other jobs (that goes for all the institution on this page!).
Please note : This site has no affiliations with the organisations mentioned.