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Law Student FAQs

Written by: Ethan Cumming
Published on: 19 Dec 2019

GraduatesIn autumn and winter 2019, the TotallyLegal team attended several university law fairs. We met bright and talented students from the UK and overseas at universities up and down the country, spreading awareness of our job board and sharing some essential careers advice.

Below is a list of the most frequently asked questions we were asked while attending these law fairs.

How can I optimise my CV for law jobs?

To give yourself the best shot at success, you should tailor your CV to every job you apply for.

By targeting the keywords from the job advert and making sure they appear throughout your CV, you will be explicitly showing hiring managers and recruiters that you are a valid candidate for the role.

It’s common practice for recruiters to spend less than a minute looking at each CV they receive, so make sure the most important information is included in the first half page. Your personal statement will be in this section, so make sure it addresses your key achievements so far and how they relate to the role at hand.

Other articles on our dedicated Law Graduates blog look at CV advice for NQ Solicitors and training contract CV advice.

What kind of work experience should I look at gaining alongside my studies?

Relevant legal work experience will greatly benefit your future training contract and job applications. You should look to take part in work experiences such as:

  • Vacation schemes: Lasting around a month, these placements are designed to give an insight into the inner workings of a law firm and exposure to real legal work. A successful vacation scheme can put you in good standing for a training contract.
  • Mini-pupillages: These shorter placements grant the opportunity to shadow a Barrister for a week or two and find out more about what they do in chambers and in court. Prospective Barristers should complete at least one mini-pupillage before graduating.
  • Open days: Law firms often hold open days for graduates and students in their penultimate or final year of study. These events are an opportunity to find out more about life at a law firm and set groundwork for a future vacation scheme.
  • Law fairs: Often hosted by universities, these events provide the opportunity to network with law firms, legal recruiters, job boards and professional bodies. With CV workshops, careers advice talks and insightful presentations, these fairs are unmissable for law students and graduates alike.
  • Attending court: This is an excellent opportunity to witness Lawyers and Barristers in action. Most hearings are open for free public attendance – check out the website of your local County, Crown or Magistrate’s Court for upcoming hearings.
  • Court marshalling: Court marshal experiences give you the chance to sit in on cases and shadow a judge as they carry out their daily practice. While an ideal compliment to a mini-pupillage, court marshalling will enhance an application to any legal position.
  • Volunteering: Charities, legal aid offices and other not-for-profit organisations often require volunteers for pro bono work.
  • Internships: Sometimes, law firms will offer internships that provide invaluable work experience. Check out law firm websites or ask your careers services department to find out more.

We discuss all these work experience options and more in our legal work experience article.

What kind of jobs can I apply for in law if I don’t want to qualify as a Solicitor?

There are plenty of career options within law for graduates who do not currently want to qualify as a Solicitor. Some of these include:

  • Paralegal
  • Legal Executive
  • Legal Secretary
  • Administration
  • Conveyancer
  • Risk and Compliance

We take a closer look at all of these career paths in our alternative law jobs for graduates article.

Do I need to study a law degree to become a Solicitor?

No, you do not need to study a law degree (LLB) to become a Solicitor. However, if you decide to study an undergraduate degree in a different subject, you must complete the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) before you can go on to train as a Solicitor. The GDL is a conversion course offered by several universities including the University of Law.

Find out more about the different routes to qualifying as a Solicitor in the UK this comprehensive article.

What is the usual recruitment process for training contracts?

The process for applying to training contracts varies from one law firm to the next, so always check individual websites to find out specific requirements and deadlines. However, many will have a recruitment process that follows the structure below:

  • Online application form
  • Critical reasoning test
  • Face-to-face interview
  • Assessment centre – usually involving a presentation, an interview and a case study exercise

Should I include non-legal work experience on my CV?

If you have legal work experience, this should be given the most attention on your CV.

However, non-legal work experience can also benefit your application. Previous work experience in a customer service role, for example, will allow you to demonstrate communication and client-facing skills.

Just remember that any non-legal work experience included on your CV should demonstrate transferrable skills that are applicable to the role for which you are applying.

Do you have anything else you would like to ask the TotallyLegal team? Get in touch with your questions on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter.