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Communication for Trainee Lawyers
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How Lawyers can Improve their Analytical Skills
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How to Make the Most of Your Legal Work Placements

How to Make the Most of Your Legal Work Placements

Exams are over and summer has definitely arrived which means that many law firms around the world are welcoming law students into their ranks for their summer work placement.

If you are one of those students who were lucky enough to be chosen for a placement, this blog will help to guarantee you make the most of this opportunity, with tips on how to fit in, what you should and shouldn’t do, and how to benefit from the experience.


Fake It, Until You Make It

You have already surpassed many other law students in order to secure your place on the summer scheme, so you know you’ve got what it takes and the qualities that the firm are looking for.

However, remaining confident in the face of new challenges and experiences, especially if you feel slightly out of your depth, can be tricky for even the most confident among us.

Faking it, until you actually make it reality, is as easy as it sounds; dress to fit the part, talk with confidence, watch, listen and learn from others, and be confident in the knowledge that they chose you for a reason – they believed you could do the job.


Positive, Passionate and Professional

These three things can carry you through most difficult tasks or situations.

A positive outlook and manner will encourage others to help and teach you, and will give you faith in your own abilities.

Being passionate about a subject, person, opinion or task will show others in the firm that you have a can-do attitude, are a team player, can manage workloads without feeling burdened, and also means that you will have more opportunities.

Lawyers are expected to display a professional outlook at all times. If you are experiencing difficulties with a particular task don’t fall to pieces – express your problem and ask for help. Often, what seems to be a massive issue is actually an ideal opportunity to learn a particular skill. No-one minds answering questions, helping with a task or supporting your learning experience. Remember, we’ve all been the newbie at some point.

Staying eager, involved and interested will leave a lasting impression on those in the firm, and could well pay dividends when you are looking for a job or seeking a reference.


Socialise and Network

Learning to network and socialise with colleagues and acquaintances is an essential skill for all lawyers. There are likely to be lots of opportunities for you to mix with co-workers and these will give you the chance to discover what the life of a lawyer is like on a more personal level.

However, if you are going out after work for drinks don’t let yourself get too carried away. Your image and social skills are vital to your firm and you will be monitored at every event. You will represent the firm at functions, or with clients, so remaining professional at all times is a must.

Work placements offer the perfect opportunity to begin building connections within the legal industry and the chance to meet others who might help your career, or may be a potential client in the future.

Some of the people you are likely to meet on your work placement might help you with a job after graduating, so don’t be afraid to ask for contact details, or connect with them on social media, so that you can stay in touch.

Social media channels are a great way to promote your personal brand, but be aware of what you share with the world and remain professional when you are connected to potential employers and colleagues.


Take Note

There are likely to be many new experiences and opportunities for you to learn from while on your summer work placement, and in order to retain all the useful information you have acquired it helps to keep a journal and take notes.

You can write down key events at the end of each day, reflecting on what you learnt, what interested you, and any advice or guidance you were offered.

Write down any personal thoughts on the issues that have arisen as these can often help you reflect later when needing to draw upon experiences such as, in an interview or assignment at university.

Personal experience is a valuable tool that employers place high significance upon, so using your own familiarity and evidence can be vital when in an interview situation.

It can also give you a clear notion of what you enjoy and why, helping you to choose the right career path in the future.


Assess and Evaluate

While you are on your placement constantly assess and evaluate your chosen firm. Throughout the summer ask yourself if you fit in, do you like their methods, do you agree with how they operate? If the answer to any of these questions is a definite ‘no’, they probably aren’t the firm for you.

Figuring out where you want to be, and what you want to do, can take time and is often a process of elimination. Don’t worry if you didn’t enjoy every aspect of your time there, but make sure you get as much as possible from the experience that you can take away with you for future use.

Your journal and notes will help you evaluate your time more clearly once you read back through them at the end of your placement.


The most important thing you can do while you are on your placement is go with the flow and immerse yourself within the firm. Learning from the professionals, and helping them out, are the best ways to educate yourself, so keep your eyes open for new opportunities and make the most of each one.