Hey everyone, during the last year a common question that I have been asked is “is work experience really necessary?” In my opinion the answer is certainly yes, however after answering this question people do not hesitate to immediately ask me why? Consequently, I have decided to create various blogs over the upcoming weeks and each time it is my aim to list a single dedicated reason why work experience is necessary.
Reason Number One – To gain an understanding of what area of law you wish to specialise in.
As a student you will cover various modules, ranging for example from European Union law, Commercial Law, Criminal Law and then even in your third year perhaps you have the ability to pick a few specialist modules, such as the Law of Evidence, Family Law and Medical Law etc. Therefore, it is true that as an undergraduate and even as a postgraduate, particularly if your studying an LLM you will gain an insight in regards to whether you personally enjoy an area of the law or not.
However, you may equally be aware that in reality there is a huge difference between the joys of an academic subject and the practical reality of practicing in the area of the law and if you want to become a solicitor or barrister you will be living in the real world. Consequently if you enjoy a subject academically there is on the opposite end of the scale no guarantee that this you would enjoy practicing in such an area of the law as a solicitor or barrister. One area of the law that this point appears to be applicable and evident is the Criminal Law, as an undergraduate there is no doubt that virtually all students enjoy Criminal Law, especially because the law within itself is interesting, particularly the case law. However, from my personal experience I have corresponded with various legal professionals who regularly advise students to not practice in this area of the law, mainly due to legal aid cuts but also because of the long hours, lack of preparation time for barristers and so on. However, clearly these reasons do not put people of practicing in Criminal Law and rightly so, but what I am trying to emphasise is that despite how interesting the Criminal Law is for example, practicing in this area of the law is perhaps not as enjoyable for some, but this is for a variety of reasons.
To prevent yourself from practicing in an area of the law in which you may find yourself not enjoying, it is now time for you to strive to get a wide variety of work experience. Work experience provides you the opportunity to see what it is like practicing in an area of the law day-in-day-out. Additionally, work experience provides you the opportunity to speak to a variety of solicitors and barristers and ask them for their advice and trust me when I say this, their advice is priceless. For example, during a few of my work experiences, the barristers who I was shadowing did not hesitate to provide me with honest and friendly advice, after all they are experts in their chosen field of law.
Furthermore, there could be an area of the law out there that you have not even contemplated practicing in. Who says you will not enjoy practicing in Sports Law for example? There is only one way to find out and that is getting work experience in a firm or chambers that specialise in Sports Law. So as a general tip, try and get as much work experience as you can in many areas of the law and when you finally decide what area of the law you wish to specialise in then tailor your future work experience applications to that area. As a result of such efforts, your CV will not only be glowing with relevant work experience, you also have the experience to explain why you wish to specialise in your chosen area of the law.
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