How to Attack an Empty CV

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If you're looking at your CV and feeling a little overwhelmed (or underwhelmed by what’s on it) there are few things you can try to beef it up a bit! Whether you're a fresh law student who's keen to get a head start or you're having a fourth year freak out, here are some tips to get you going.

1. Write

Writing for law blogs, university student publications, or law society journals is a great way to demonstrate your creativity as well as your passion for a particular area of law. You might even think about writing for Survive Law!

2. Volunteering at Community Legal Centres

Volunteering for a community legal centre or firm can be a great way to get a breadth of experience without the pressure of having to secure a job. Generally they offer opportunities to volunteer during the week, but you can also consider services that offer evening advice sessions, like Marrickville Legal, Inner City Legal Centre, Redfern Legal Centre, or one of the Salvos Legal advice bureaus. You might find yourself volunteering on a phone line, face to face, working on policy, legal education or general administrative assistance. A great place to start is the ‘Community Legal Centre Volunteers’ website or even the College of Law’s jobs board which shows you which centres are currently accepting volunteers.

3. Clinical Legal Placement

Most universities will offer a clinical legal placement. Do it. This is the easiest way to get some real experience because generally assessment tasks include de-identified letters of advice, information brochures, or other activities such as taking client instructions. The university does all the work for you, and you’ve got a week of work experience to put on your resume!

4. Going Global

Going overseas as part of your degree is one of the best things you can do for your career and it’s fun! Consider going on exchange, taking a short study program, going to a conference, or mooting internationally.

5. Legal Research Assistant

Some lecturers will advertise throughout the year that they are looking for research assistants or for students to help with editing or administrative tasks for a paper or project they are working on. This is a good opportunity to cultivate your legal research skills. If you’re lucky, you might even get paid for it too.

6. Student-Faculty Representative

So, if you’re finding it’s tough to break into the law student’s association/society because you’re too fresh, or you’re left it too long and don’t have enough social capital, you might want to consider being a ‘Law student representative’ on another panel. For example, you could be the law student rep on the academic misconduct panel, or the academic senate.

7. Law Society Executive or Subcommittee

Getting elected to the Law Student representative body at your university can be difficult, but there’s nothing to lose by throwing your hat in the ring. Acting in one these positions looks great on the CV in terms of leadership, planning and in general, taking an interest in the activities of your law school.

8. Tutoring

Do you remember that free tutoring that you got offered in first year, or maybe for your core law units? Why don’t you consider being the tutor that delivers those classes? Teaching others is a great way to learn and consolidate knowledge from those early subjects. You might even decide to tutor privately for secondary school subjects, especially if you performed quite well in them yourself. On a resume, you might frame this as having honed client service as well as your oral and written communication skills.

9. Internships/Clerkships

Apply for the normal clerkships that are advertised. Prepare early and think deeply about your responses to questions and reflect on the experiences that you’ve had in order to make your application stand out. Internships are also advertised in a variety of areas and you might like to consider applying for them, for example the Aurora Internship.

10. Legal Skills and Mooting Competitions

Competitions that develop your legal skills are a great way to start from scratch and put some experience on your CV. Law student associations will typically offer mooting, client interviewing, cross examination or negotiation training and competitions.

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