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Getting Work Experience in the Law when you’re Working Full Time

Female employee smiling with open book

If you’re working full time, taking a few months off from your job for a legal internship probably isn’t really an option, but getting work experience in the law while you’re working is possible! Here are a few ways to get started…

Find out if your workplace has an in-house legal team

If you’re looking for some work experience in the law, your current job can be a good place to start. You may be able to assist the in-house legal team at your work. The in-house lawyer looks after the legal needs of the organisation. Depending on where you work, this could involve preparing employment contracts, negotiating lease agreements, etc.

Even if there isn’t an in-house lawyer at your work, there may be a staff member carrying out law-related work such as contract management, trademark applications, etc.

Talk to your employer about time off for a short-term work experience placement

Getting work experience is a great opportunity to try out areas of law that you may be interested in. Organising time off for a four to eight week internship is tricky, but there are also short-term work experience opportunities available that let you work for a week or two, or one day a week for a month or so.

If you are unable to find a work experience program to fit in with your schedule, do not be afraid to approach a firm to organise a few days or weeks of work experience.

Other than law firms, shadowing a barrister is also an option. Depending on the barrister, this could include following him/her to court for a day or two, conducting legal research, etc.

Speak with your lecturer about research assistant work

Academics are often looking for students to assist with their research. If you have done particularly well in a subject, feel free to approach your lecturer to ask if you are able to assist them with their research work.

Becoming a research assistant enhances your legal research skills and increases your exposure to a particular area of law. As a research assistant, you may be required to:

  • Research and analyse case law, legislation and bills

  • Prepare case notes

  • Retrieve journal articles, second reading speeches and amendments of a particular Act

Depending on the academic, you may be able to do this research from home after work and on weekends.

Volunteer at a Community Legal Centre After Work

Some community legal centres operate in the evening so they can offer advice to clients outside of working hours, and you might be able to volunteer for a few hours one or two nights each week. Volunteering experiences at a CLC might include:

  • Legal research

  • Providing legal information and referrals through reception and telephone work

  • Assist with community legal education

Check with your university for pro bono programs and work placements, and keep an eye out for clinical legal education units when you’re choosing electives.

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