The LawCareers.Net Handbook 2021

firms offer pro bono services, so it is a good skill to learn early on.

either employment, social security or both, depending on your level of experience. To undertake employment training, you must be at least a master’s, GDL, LPC or BPTC student. To undertake social security training, you must be at least a final-year LLB or GDL student. To read an interview with a former FRU volunteer and the charity’s chief, see our “Free Representation Unit” chapter in this section. Find out more about FRU at www. or by calling 020 7611 9555.

Martin Barnes, chief executive of LawWorks, adds: “I would encourage every law student to get involved in pro bono activities. There is a range of potential opportunities available, including helping people with real- life issues as well as developing legal and practical skills.” For more on LawWorks and what it does, see the “LawWorks” chapter in this section. For more on getting involved with pro bono in general, see What else can I do? Staying closer to home, you could send a speculative application to local high-street law firms asking to shadow a partner (or a trainee) for a few days or offer to answer the phones at a nearby legal advice centre. Court ushering at your nearest magistrates’ court and outdoor clerking are suggested for those unable to get on a formal mini-pupillage. We asked graduate recruiters how non- law graduates in particular can get a foot on the ladder if they cannot get onto a formal work placement. All said that non- law graduates should at least make the effort to research the profession, speak to solicitors/trainees about their experiences and visit firms or attend open days. In addition, they suggest using personal contacts to obtain work experience, either in law or in a related field (eg, banking or accountancy). Work of all types – including cleaning and waiting – shows grit and determination, as well as a willingness to roll up your sleeves and get on with the job. Many firms recruit candidates with wide interests and if you have experienced other careers, you can speak from the heart at interview about the reasons you have excluded those careers and feel propelled towards law.

Pro bono work Many universities and postgraduate

study providers operate pro bono clinics, which are a great chance to get involved in providing legal advice at the front line. John Watkins, director of employability at The University of Law, talks about the University’s schemes and their benefit to both students and the wider community: “Pro bono at the University consists of three broad programmes: legal advice clinics, where students answer legal enquiries from the general public under supervision; external opportunities, where students gain experience of working for not-for-profit organisations; and public legal education, raising legal awareness in communities through schemes such as the Streetlaw initiative. All our students are encouraged to participate, and with a wide range of over 3,300 opportunities and placements available each year, students can get involved whatever their field of interest. Students appreciate the many benefits that flow from developing their knowledge and skills in a challenging but secure real-life setting. The additional benefits to the wider community reinforce the positive nature of the work.” Pro bono is an excellent way for students to practise giving legal advice and also giving something back to the community. A lot of


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