My work experience placement was at Freemans Solicitors, a Law firm in Central London. Given the location, I had to commute every day. The Work Experience Bursary was particularly helpful in this regard. It helped with covering transportation expenses, to and from work, thus saving me a great deal of expenses. I was impressed by this initiative, and I find it to be one of many ways the University stands out.
While at the firm, I shadowed the Immigration and Crime departments, engaging in a wide breadth of work. I remember coming in on the first day and being instructed lodge an appeal in court. At that time, I felt like I was being thrown in the deep end, but looking back, I am grateful for such exposure early on. On the average day at work, I undertook legal research, wrote reports, drafted transcripts and attended court sessions with solicitor advocates and barristers. My networking skills were brought to bear whenever I encountered these legal professionals. I made it a point of duty to interact with them and ask questions about the profession. Fortunately, I received quite a number of business cards, meaning I can always stay in touch. Who knows? I could be working with one of them later on in my career.
The work experience placement painted a clearer picture of what a legal career looks like, and I gained some valuable skills in the process. I learnt to take initiative, work to deadlines and be punctual at all times. I also developed sharper attention to detail; who would have thought that a single comma could change the entire meaning of a legal document? Contrary to my default nature, I mastered the art of early rising. This was important, as I get to work early in the morning and weather the storm of ‘rush hour’. I believe that these skills are ever so practical and would benefit me in future roles.
The highlight of my experience was interviewing a client and taking notes for office records. That was my closest encounter to real life legal work. Based on how well I conducted the first interview, I was given subsequent opportunities to conduct client interviews. I was quite pleased by this because it set the tone for higher responsibilities at the firm.
Overall, my work experience was second to none. I developed a wide breadth of know-how, ranging from general administrative duties (faxing and photocopying) to more technical legal work (transcribing and research). I hope to become a Solicitor in the near future and the legal profession, like many others, lays great emphasis on ‘commercial awareness’. Although I haven’t fully grasped what that phrase means, I’m quite sure that my work experience has equipped me with some measure of it.