Starting your legal career

Whether you are a law student or just interested in working within the legal industry, breaking into the working legal world can be a daunting prospect. The hierarchical nature of the law industry and the hard work involved in becoming a qualified and certified lawyer means that entering the workforce usually means working your way from the bottom up. The experience gained from such entry level work, however, is crucial and a fundamental stepping stone in being a proactive, sharp and perceptive participant in the industry. If you’re looking at jumpstarting your law career, then here are a couple of ways to get your foot in the door.

–          Internship and clerkship opportunities. Most law firms offer internships – often over the summer or on a longer basis – to law students who are eager to gain experience and put their law degree into practice. As with most businesses, cost cutting can be a priority so these clerkships and internships can be either paid, or unpaid. As a law student, a part time clerkship role can be a great way to earn money while getting hands on experience while you study.

–          Paralegal or admin work. If you haven’t undertaken any legal studies, there are still a number of job opportunities available in law firms and other legal areas. Paralegal and office admin work are two important areas where those looking to break into the industry should start.

–          Extracurricular activities. For those still studying it’s easy to add weight and credentials to your CV by participating in extracurricular activities. Whether this means getting involved in mock trial competitions, your university’s law society activities or writing for school related journals or newspapers, all of these supplementary activities will give you valuable experience and an impressive CV.

–          Volunteer Work. Many non-profits, public interest organisations, legal clinics and legal aid offices are desperate for volunteers and will eagerly take you up on the offer of your time. Although volunteer work is unpaid, their reliance on volunteers means you are likely to be given wider responsibility and get exposure to a wider range of clients, roles and cases.

–          Use your personal contacts. As true with any industry or job search, it’s important to rely on, and use any personal contacts or relationships that you already have. If you’re a law student, for example, maintain good relationships with your professors and lawyers who will often hear of job roles or internships first, and thus be able to pass them on to you. It may also be worth familiarizing yourself with http://www.worldlii.org/. Whether you’re working in Sydney or London, legal careers will be easier to come by when you have legal work experience behind you and on your resume. If your ultimate goal is to be a Sydney lawyer, jobs will be easier to come by when you have a work history in the law sector.

How will you kick start your legal career?

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