06 / 07 / 20
I recently graduated from the Diploma in Legal Practice from the University of Dundee and will begin my 2-year traineeship this year. I have been asked by DULS to give some general advice about work experience and traineeships. I hope that you will find this useful.
Firstly, I want to emphasise the importance of non-legal work experience. I worked part-time in retail throughout the majority of my undergraduate law degree and Diploma in Legal Practice. This type of work experience enables you to develop and enhance various skills such as: communication, time management and commercial awareness, to name a few. When interviewing for summer placements with law firms, I found that I could draw on my retail work experience when answering competency-based questions. I think it is also important to stress that a lot of skills that you develop in retail, for example, will help you going forward in a legal career. I personally found it easier to work more hours in my retail job in third and fourth year of university as I was only in seminars for 4 hours each week.
Throughout my time at university, I regularly sat in the public gallery at the Sheriff Court, and found that this provided me with a sound understanding of court proceedings. I would encourage you to do the same.
Are you a keen mooter? A tennis fan? There are some fantastic societies at university, why not run for a committee position? This is a great way to boost your CV and is great to talk about at interviews. I worked as Secretary of Dundee University Mooting Society during my second year of university and then as Vice President (Careers) of Dundee University Law Society in my third year. Not only will this look good on your CV, it also allows you to develop key skills such as: time management, leadership, organisation, and communication. Lastly, being part of a university committee is good fun and allows you to connect with students from all year groups.
If you are successful in securing an interview for a summer placement/traineeship, I would recommend that you take advantage of the Careers Service at university. They offer mock interviews, which I found very useful. Moreover, they can provide
you with a graduate CV template. It is very easy to book a 30-minute appointment online (google ‘Dundee university careers portal’).
Say yes to opportunities! Throughout your time at university, there will be opportunities to attend networking events, advocacy workshops, and more. By attending such events, you can start to build your network and learn more about various areas of law. Further, you will begin to understand what areas of the law you are interested in. For me, I particularly enjoyed attending the Criminal Advocacy workshop at Dundee Sheriff Court. I have always had an interest in litigation, and this event confirmed that a career in litigation was suited to me. I would recommend sending DULS a message on social media to ask about upcoming events.
Go along to the legal recruitment fair. This is generally held in September each year. I would recommend that you have a read through the list of law firms that will be in attendance. Prepare some questions to ask. This is a good opportunity to find out more about summer placements and traineeships. It’s never too early to start your research.
I hope that you have found this short post useful for you going forward. I’m more than happy to answer any questions that you may have. Feel free to give me a message on LinkedIn (Evana Ferguson).