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Law students - using your vacations to gain experience


Law students - using your vacations to gain experience

More Info                           

     Law students - using your vacations to gain experience.
Legal Vacation Work in Scotland

Legal vacation work has many advantages, from letting you put your legal theory into
practice, giving you insight into different practice areas, sampling the culture of different
firms, to the law firms having an extended opportunity to see you in action. Most
advertised legal vacation work opportunities are aimed at penultimate year students.
Opportunities available include the following:

       Larger Scottish law firms. Many these have structured vacation work schemes
       which you’ll find advertised via the Careers Service vacancy database SAGE, , on their websites and on notice boards by the
       undergraduate office (near LT 183) in the Law School. Success in one of these
       placements can lead to you being fast-tracked to traineeship interview and offer.
       Closing dates for vacation placements with larger firms tend to be at the end of
       Semester 1 or near the start of Semester 2.
       Smaller law firms may not actively recruit for vacation work. You will need to
       identify firms you are interested in via the websites and directories listed below, and
       apply speculatively via a well-targeted CV and cover letter.
       Legal departments. You can also target organisations with a legal department,
       such as the banks, company head offices etc in this way.
       Public sector. Work in the public sector is also possible – through the Government
       Legal Service for Scotland, the Crown Office and local councils.
       England and Wales. You may also wish to explore opportunities for legal work
       experience in England and Wales.

However, there are not enough opportunities for legal work experience for everyone who
would like it. Work experience in other areas can give you valuable experience and help to
develop transferable skills.

Ideas on how to explore all of the above are listed below.

Researching Legal Vacation Work in Scotland

       Check out the information and advice on gaining experience on the Law School
       careers web pages > gaining experience

       Check legal vacation work on SAGE –

       Larger Firms – check individual law firms’ websites for details and use the Scots
       Law Fair in the Law School in September to find out more.

  University of Edinburgh Careers Service, 33 Buccleuch Place 650 4670
       Smaller Firms - check the surveys of smaller firms in Edinburgh, Aberdeen and
       Inverness via the Careers Service website

       Also use - White book (directory of Scottish law firms and organisations) and the
       websites below to identify firms and organisations you are interested in.
          o (legal 500 online - identify the top law firms in
             the different areas of law, and different geographical areas)
          o (Law Society of Scotland – searchable database of
             legal firms in Scotland)
          o - Scottish Legal Aid
             Board website, for firms doing legal aid work.
          o - Legal Services
             section. This portal of links on Careers Service website brings together all
             the above links, and many more.

       Other opportunities? Search Law Society of Scotland website – use the ‘find a
       solicitor’ database to identify organisations which employ solicitors, and apply
       speculatively (see Speculative Applications section below.)
       Collect your copy of the publication Target Law Scotland from the September Law
       Fair, or the Careers Service, for more ideas for vacation work.

Vacation Placements in English Law Firms

       Check legal vacation work on SAGE –
       Useful websites for finding vacation placements

           o - Legal Services
               section – a portal of legal-related links bringing together all the above links –
               and many more.

       Publications for researching opportunities– available to take away in the Careers
       Service whilst stocks last

                      GTI Target Work Experience – law
                      Training Contract and Pupillages handbook
                      Directories –e.g. Chambers & Partners Student Guide
                      Prospects Focus on Law

       Also use Chambers and Partners directory of legal firms or the website to identify firms you are interested in and make
       speculative applications via targeted CV and cover letter.

Other organisations where you may be able to gain relevant experience.

Not everyone will be able to obtain vacation work in a law firm. To gain relevant skills and
experience in specialist areas of law which interest you, you may want to consider the
options listed below. Under each law specialism are ideas for the types of organisation
where you may find a suitable placement. These are only suggestions to stimulate your
  University of Edinburgh Careers Service, 33 Buccleuch Place 650 4670
thinking in your vacation placement search. If you need further help with finding relevant
organisations and making applications call into the Careers Service, 33 Buccleuch Place.

Banking/Corporate Finance: Building societies; banks; cash office of retail outlet; sales
desk; council tax office; tax office; insurance companies; insurance agents; finance
houses; investment companies

Commercial Property/ Construction & Engineering: Estate agencies; facility
management agents; property developers; civil engineering companies; engineering

Crime: Police; law courts; citizens’ advice bureau; procurator fiscal service; victim support
groups; rehabilitation of offender charities

Commercial Litigation: Legal department of any retail outlet or company – mainly head
office setting; (may be more difficult if no litigation pending); citizens’ advice bureau;
procurator fiscal service; consumer associations

Employment: Union head office or regional offices; personnel departments; TUC; ACAS;
citizens’ advice bureau

Environmental: Environment department of the Scottish Government; waste disposal
companies; property developers; local authorities: energy companies.

Family: Citizens’ advice bureau; welfare charities; social services; law centres;

Intellectual Property: Legal departments of media houses; IT companies; publishing
houses; patent agents

Medical Litigation: Healthcare trusts; hospitals; medical insurance companies; NHS legal
department; health authorities; medical related charities

Shipping: Shipping Agents; Customs and Excise; Travel Companies; Freight Companies

Other Vacation Work
Vacation work in different areas of employment can help you to gain valuable insight, skills
and experience. Use the resources below to help you identify opportunities.

       Careers Service website
          • SAGE - - vacation opportunities
          • Vacation work section of the website – >jobhunting –
             the ‘working during vacations’ section contains useful advice and links to
             many relevant sites for researching opportunities in the UK and abroad
       Vacation work section of Careers Service, including
          • Reference files and books, UK and overseas
          • US internships

Volunteering can be combined with paid work over vacations to broaden your experience
and skills. Within the University and the City of Edinburgh, or further afield, there are
1000s of opportunities to get involved and make a difference. Volunteer for advice work
  University of Edinburgh Careers Service, 33 Buccleuch Place 650 4670
with Citizens Advice Bureau, support work with Witness Support at the courts, provide
advocacy for disadvantaged people, get involved in projects abroad (though you often
have to raise some initial funds to do this) – the list is endless. Use the SAGE database,
Student Volunteer Bureau at Potterrow, and the Voluntary Work section of our website, >student>alternatives, with links to searchable databases of
opportunities, to find something which suits you.

Speculative Applications
Many smaller law firms, and the Fiscal Service, (and other career areas including the
media, events management etc) do not advertise vacation opportunities. You will need to
identify firms and organisations you are interested in and apply speculatively with a well-
targeted CV and cover letter. Download a copy of the handout Effective Legal
Applications from the download section of the Law School careers web pages to help you construct your CV and cover letter.

Tips for speculative applications
 •     Telephone before you send a letter, so your application does not arrive 'cold' or
     on the wrong person's desk. Aim to track down the most relevant person and their
     job title (and make sure you spell their name correctly!). Send your application to a
     named person if possible, so you can follow it up later if necessary.
 •     Clearly state what you are interested in.
 •    Say why you have chosen to apply to that particular firm or organisation.
     Demonstrate that you know something about them, their area of law and services.
 •     Tell the firm what you can offer them in return for experience – your administrative,
     research, organisational skills, enthusiasm for the work they do etc. The style and
     tone of your letter should be persuasive.
 •     State when you are available for interview or discussion. You may need to follow
     your letter with a telephone call in a week or two, to demonstrate your commitment
     and enthusiasm.

Outlined above are just some ideas to help you locate relevant vacation work. If you need
any further help, please call into the Careers Service, 33 Buccleuch Place. We look
forward to seeing you.

Janet Forsyth, Careers Adviser, Sept 09

  University of Edinburgh Careers Service, 33 Buccleuch Place 650 4670

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