She shares her insight in how work placements at legal firms should be a two-way street and why students interested in a career in law should pursue meaningful placements to further their career development.
I began my work placement at CEL Solicitors in August 2019 on an initial term of 4 weeks. I had completed other work experience placements with a number of legal firms in Liverpool, but from my first day at CEL, I felt like a member of the team.
Although it can look impressive having larger law firms written on your CV, it’s much more valuable to get meaningful placements. Don’t get me wrong. CEL is paving the way in their field but it still has that family-feel environment. It was this that allowed me to get stuck into meaningful work and gain real experience that I can use throughout my studies and my career.
At the end of the day, you are on work placement and you’re not skilled in the tasks that colleagues do day in and day out. However, the importance of finding a placement where your day isn’t spent solely doing admin tasks is essential.
Prior to my placement here, work experience felt like a one-way transaction. I would work for free for a firm, doing very little of importance in return for being able to write their company name on my resume. That wasn’t the case at CEL.
During my placement, I experienced the real working day of a solicitor at CEL Solicitors. I was involved in tasks at every stage of the claims process to full understand the process from start to finish. I also developed my client communication skills and was able to really understand how to use a commonly known software programme, Proclaim.
The nature of work experience tends to align itself with being somewhat unproductive to both parties. In many cases, the workie can become a bit of a spare part, nagging for tasks and not being able to contribute much.
But, good placements do exist! Be clear with the firm first on what you want to achieve. Have set goals and tasks you would like to complete. Speak to as many of the team as you can – they will all have been in your place at one point or another!
For me, by being able to get stuck into meaningful tasks at CEL and show my true potential, not only did I benefit from new skills and development, but I was able to give back to the company too.
My advice to other students – whether at school or university level – is to seek out high-quality work experience placements to get a real feel for a career. Working with a family-run firm like CEL allowed me to get a real experience, and real skills that I could implement into my studies.
Of course, I struck lucky. With direct mentoring from Director Jessica, and a team of hard-working, expert and dedicated staff, I was quickly enthralled and could absolutely imagine myself working in such an environment. And would you believe it, I was offered a one-day job with the firm! Just goes to show that a week of work experience doesn’t always have to be just work experience!