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Why is work experience important?

View profile for Sophie Read
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In a nutshell, all work experience provides individuals with an invaluable opportunity to have an insight in to the world of working, as well as giving individuals the opportunity to get in front of potential employers.

What are the benefits of non-legal work experience?

For me, years of non-legal work experience assisted me significantly when undertaking legal work experience, which ultimately led me to securing a training contract with Feldon Dunsmore Solicitors.

My non-legal work experience included everything from a paper round to working as an assistant secretary for an agricultural show and a lot in between, including being on a committee for a registered charity which entailed amongst many other things being the newsletter editor and setting up and managing a social media account.

There are lots of obvious benefits to any form of work experience, which go beyond purely boosting the front page of your CV. Any form of ‘work’ with real people and responsibility cannot be bad a thing in my opinion.

There’s a whole range of skills which can be acquired from any form of work, lots of which will be transferrable to a career in law. I found that before even stepping in to a law firm, I was already well accustomed to speaking on the phone, managing customers, working under pressure and meeting individuals from a wide variety of backgrounds, which are all key skills for any solicitor.

Marketing and networking are also vital parts of being a solicitor and any experience in this area will put you ahead of the game.

Non-legal work experience also gives firms an insight into who you are as a person and whether you have the personality and aptitude to work with clients and colleagues: Each firm is, after all, made up of individuals.

Why is legal work experience so important?

Something which is very obvious to me now, but wasn’t when I was an undergraduate student considering a career in law, is that there is such a variety of solicitors firms. From multidisciplinary high street firms, specialist firms of a variety of sizes right through to multinational firms, every firm is different. There are also in-house solicitors working in local authorities and private and public limited companies.

Beyond the size of the firm and number of employees, there are also the practicing areas to think about. Feldon Dunsmore Solicitors is a niche commercial property law firm and within the umbrella of commercial property law we cover a wide variety of specialist practice areas, including landlord and tenant, property development and secured lending.

I always wanted to focus on commercial property and so was delighted to train and qualify in a niche firm undertaking only this type of legal work but commercial property will not be everyone’s cup of tea. Gaining work experience in various areas of law and in firms of different sizes can be important to help individuals understand what is on offer if they are undecided.  

Work experience also allows individuals the chance to see firsthand - not just from a firm’s promotional material - what the culture of the firm is, the size, location, commute and what the individuals who make up the firm are like.

My advice to any individual thinking of exploring a career in law is to find a firm which fits with you, a firm with practice areas which you are interested in and a culture you can see yourself being part of. The best lawyers are those who truly enjoy their job!

Feldon Dunsmore work experience scheme

We offer work experience placements to a selected number of students and graduates each year. Further details can be found here. At the time of writing this blog, applications are closed for our summer 2021 placements but keep a look out for when applications re-open. In the meantime, we have lots of fantastic applications to review.

Author: Sophie Read

7 May 2021