Gaynor Hay, a law graduate discusses the financial implications of undertaking legal work experience.
This is the article about work experience that sparked huge debate on Twitter recently, discussing many aspects that are taken into consideration when deciding to undertake legal work experience, one of them being the financial implications. It refers to people using money as an excuse for not undertaking work experience and describes this as a ‘lazy excuse’.
If you were offended don’t be, Rebecca Lamb, in my opinion, is partially correct. As disappointing as it is a small group of people fall within this category. These are the people who believe they are owed a legal job because they got a good degree classification. To these people I say, “welcome to the real world”.
Differing Circumstances May Affect Ability To Undertake Work Experience
The previous article paints a very subjective view on the cost of undertaking work experience within a law firm. I would like to express that I thought the article was excellent; my only area of concern was just this. According to the publication ‘Students arguing they cannot afford to commit to a work placement for financial issues is a lazy excuse’. This statement alone fails to take into account the differing circumstances that students face in today’s economy.
Different Types of Student
Not all students have the benefit of studying full-time, supported by the Student Loans Company and the occasional part time job. For the students who have this luxury I agree with Rebecca; there is no reason not to undertake legal work experience, if you are able to secure a placement that is.
However, there are students out there who work full-time, study part-time and by sheer advanced planning, manage to run a home. We all know we need something to make us stand out, but many underestimate the cost of work experience. Initially there is loss of wages, if you work full-time this can be in the region of £300+ a week, for some this is equivalent of half a months rent. Add to this the cost of travel and hotel bills (if you have to travel far) and the amount snowballs.
We all know work experience is worthwhile, but it seems a little unfair that those who live independently are disadvantaged based on money, or lack of it.
Overcoming Obstacles to Attend Work Experience
So we are constantly being told that we must get experience to have any chance of securing that illusive training contract. You may feel you cannot afford it and I don’t have a magic wand but there are ways to help you overcome this:
1) Save – Make note of all your work experience deadlines and start saving well in advance. This will ensure you are still able to pay all your bills and any extra costs involved. You will be much more focused on your experience if you are not worrying about how much it is costing you to attend.
2) Use your holiday – Use your annual leave at work to undertake legal experience. Some companies are more flexible then others, allowing their employees to attend work experience placements. It may be something you have to keep to yourself unfortunately.
Can’t get the law firms placement dates off work? Book a random week off and call your selected firms. Some of the smaller ones are very receptive to this technique and happy to offer you a week of experience or the opportunity to shadow a solicitor; both methods offer great opportunities.
3) SWOT yourself – Think of other ways to stand out. Maybe your full time job provides many transferable skills like commercial awareness, management-training, or volunteer experience for the Citizens Advice Bureau. Conducting a SWOT analysis allows you to scrutinise your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. This is a great way of spotting the ‘missing link’ that could prevent you having the career of your dreams. Not being able to secure legal work experience doesn’t have to be the end of the world, but what can you offer instead?
Don’t be disheartened by the obstacles you face, they build character. The truth is whether you are applying for work experience, a training contract or preparing for an interview get ready to brush up on your sales technique. It is time to sell yourself and the fantastic skills you can offer a firm.
The views expressed by DG Academy contributors are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to Duncan Gibbins Solicitors
All information is supplied in good faith but we accept no responsibility for any loss you may incur by following the advice here on these pages.
Work Experience – What DG Academy Says
Work experience is a vital asset to your CV when applying for any role in a law firm. It demonstrates you have shown initiative, effort and willing. As Gaynor points out, there are ways of working around the financial implications which employers will expect you to have done. It is not just the law industry where students struggle, in other highly competitive industries, such as the media industry, if students haven’t taken on any work experience they will be unlikely to obtain a job.
Taking on work experience whilst at University or when you have other time and financial commitments may be difficult but unfortunately having a good degree is no longer enough to succeed. By demonstrating to employers that you were prepared to work for free for a week by investing your time, money and efforts implies that you are willing to work hard in your career and could be a potential asset to their firm.
Read our article on how to obtain work experience for further hints and tips!
Financial Implications of Work Experience – Your Views
If you would like to write an article for the DG Academy email Beth Nunnington at firstname.lastname@example.org
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