This year I was fortunate enough to be selected for a work experience placement with Kent Legal Services, spending 2 weeks with them at the head office of Kent County Council in Maidstone. As with anyone seeking to begin a career within the legal profession, having work experience is essential when applying for vacation schemes, training contracts, or paralegal roles.
During my 2 weeks I was based within the Civil Litigation, Education and Employment department, but was also working alongside solicitors working on Dispute Resolution, Criminal Law and Social Welfare, giving me a breadth of exposure to distinct areas of practice. Some of my work involved research into particular issues within current cases the team were working on, and by having the opportunity to look into an Education Act issue for a client and discussing it with my supervising solicitor I learnt a lot about an area of the law new to me and it really built my confidence knowing that I independently came to the same conclusion as my supervising solicitor.
Additionally, this placement provided me with a real insight into the work done by an in-house legal team, and in particular in local authority law, helping me get a better idea of the huge variety of work done by solicitors and how different one solicitor’s working day can be from the next, depending on their area of practice. I was also fortunate enough to be invited to assist and shadow a solicitor working in Child Social Care law, familiarising myself with a current case she was working on and producing a summary for her, before attending a legal planning meeting with her and the social workers responsible for the children involved.
During my final week, I also had the opportunity to accompany my supervising solicitor and counsel to the pre-inquest hearing of a high profile local case that they were acting for Kent County Council on, providing me with insight into a very different area of legal practice and allowed me to see how the roles of solicitor and barrister collaborate.
Without the Kent Work Experience Bursary, I would have found it really difficult to cover the travel costs involved, and may have had to reconsider taking this invaluable opportunity.
Because of the experience I’ve gained, I’ll now be able to confidently seek new opportunities within the areas of practice I’ve seen during the placement, and the improvements in my legal research, drafting and communication skills will undoubtedly help me perform well in both future interviews and legal roles.
-Amy McElwaine graduated this year with a 2:1 in Law from the University of Kent.