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5 Unconventional Ways To Get Work Experience At Law Firms

High competition and limited numbers of traditional legal work experience opportunities inevitably mean some of you will be seeking alternative ways to gain work experience. It is important to keep an open mind and be flexible to alternative ways to gain legal experience. Today we will share with you six great ways you could gain legal work experience, which will boost the value of your Law CV and help you secure a training contract in the future.

1. Essay Competitions  

Every year a range of law firms from smaller to larger one run a number of an essay competition on a variety of topical issues at the time. Crucially the winner of this competition usually is offered some form of internship which could last for a few days to a couple of weeks. Usually, the competition for these events is not as stiff as for vacation schemes. Brightnetwork recently promoted such event sponsored by Slaughter and May LLP. A regional firm Hedges Law also run an essay competition this year with the winner securing an internship at the firm. If you enjoy essay writing and you believe you have great writing skills, we would highly encourage you to consider this option.

2.Scholarship Programme

These types of scholarships are designed to support financially people from minority backgrounds as well as help you succeed with your career in law. It is important to note that these scholarships are very limited and indeed not available at every law firm. However, they do exist and it could be a great alternative to gaining legal experience. Herbert Smith Freehills runs a scholarship of this type and the great thing about it is that you are guaranteed a summer vacation scheme interview on completion providing you achieve a 2:1 in your first-year exams. 

3. Campus Ambassadors 

Becoming a campus ambassador is a great way to get an insight into a law firm but also network and build your industry contacts. These opportunities are aimed at first-year students and available at many law firms. Again it goes without saying that you will have competition when applying for these events but nonetheless a great alternative way to gain exposure to a law firm and showcase your qualities. Perhaps less important but large city firms such as Hogan Lovells will even pay you as much as £600 for being a campus ambassador. This opportunity can also help with your vacation scheme application and indeed Herbert Smith Freehills exempts its campus ambassadors from taking the online assessment test for the purposes of a vacation scheme application.

4. Pro Bono Placements

Similar to the scholarship, Pro Bono placements are very limited in numbers and also in terms of the number of firms offering such placements. This placement would provide an excellent opportunity to get insight into a law firm, the work they do but also network with lawyers that carry out this Pro Bono work. Applications for such placements are currently open at Herbert Smith Freehills. 

 5. Workshops

Most city firm usually run workshops in the spring of each year aimed at first-year students. Typically these workshops last a couple of days and offer an insight into different departments at law firms and a great way to get tips and advice on vacation scheme applications as well as network with trainees. Be sure you are familiar with the applications deadlines for these workshops and we would recommend you check on Legal Cheek deadline calendar. 


As you are well aware not everyone gets a vacation scheme and the firms are well aware of that too. It is important you keep an open mind when it comes to gaining work experience and by taking less conventional routes it will not disadvantage you hinder your chances of securing a training contract in the future. If anything, it will demonstrate you are determined and committed to securing a career in law which will be appreciated by recruiters at these law firms. What unconventional steps you have taken to gain legal work experience? 


Joe Simmons

Legal recruiter and blogger @purelegaljobs