Can’t get law work experience? Try these seven ways to boost your CV

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Even when opportunities are hard to find, you can still get some professional experience under your belt

Work experience plans stuck in a rut? There are more than a few constructive things you can be doing instead. We asked employability director John Watkins from The University of Law for some expert guidance.

1. Look elsewhere

When conventional work experience opportunities don't seem to be readily available, you need to think outside the box.

That means embracing non-law options. Start at your uni’s career service to see who’s still in the market for work experience – some areas have actually seen increased demand for people this year. 

Any professional environment will offer you a taste of things like working with teams, office software and client care, all of which will transfer nicely to your future legal career.

2. Volunteer

Right now the world needs a helping hand. Volunteering might involve anything from delivering food to isolated communities, to making phone calls to check in on vulnerable people.

“Employers like to see volunteering on a CV because the skills used are as valuable as paid work,” says John. “It also shows a sense of drive, motivation and commitment.”

In fact, personal development of any kind – which could be volunteering, taking a coaching course, even learning how to read body language – is a very good thing, says John. 

“It shows commitment to enhancing yourself. Never underestimate the skills used, the people met and the confidence gained from such activities.”

3. Learn that language

It’s a good time to fire up DuoLingo. There are the usual social benefits to learning another language (and the sly thrill of learning to swear eloquently in a different dialect), but the professional benefits are huge, too. Such skills could help build relationships with overseas clients, for example, which is certainly going to be a big CV tick. 

Do you need to be fluent in a language for it to be helpful, or is it still a benefit to have a conversational grasp of one? “There are positives from both,” says John. “But one has a clear advantage in terms of business application.” In other words, get practising.

4. Join the IT crowd

Sure, your coding is on point and you’re basically a TikTok ninja, but what about business software?

“Students are mainly digital natives, they’re naturals with technology which supports personal and social activity,” says John. “However, many don’t need to use business IT in their education or social life and they’re severely exposed when asked to produce documents using Microsoft Office.”

In the absence of work experience, why not get ahead and dig into some tutorials on Word, Excel and PowerPoint? YouTube has infinite options, if you can avoid falling down the usual cat / dog /  people-listening-to-Phil-Collins-for-the-first-time-and-freaking-out wormholes.

5. Get virtually skilled

There’s so much to boost mind, body and even soul online, from virtual leadership webinars to online drama programmes or philosophy courses.

Your uni probably has lots on offer, but a quick Google of anything you’re interested in will reveal all kinds of options. Insta is another great source of wisdom, with key figures in fields from yoga to human rights offering training programmes great and small.

You might well be sick of all the virtual learning for now though, so don’t force it. “Only do it if it adds value,” says John. “Be selective and ensure that it enhances your CV, confidence and capability.”

6. Be entrepreneurial

How can your crochet balloon dog store on Etsy help your legal career? Because employers love a creative, commercial mind (and probably crochet dogs), and it shows that you have one. It also shows that you can focus and pursue an idea to its conclusion. 

“It’s also about independent thinking,” says John. “Employers don’t want people who will just do what they’re told; they want people to forge their own paths.”

Got a blog? That counts, too, on whatever topic. “It offers insight into your thinking and communication skills,” says John. So keep knitting, and keep typing. Maybe not at the same time.

7. Review your digital footprint

We know you’re not the type to be hurling offensive stuff across the interwebs...but it never hurts to tidy up your online image and get set up on LinkedIn.

Employers do actually check, says John. “More than half of employers will google candidates’ names. They know their clients could do the same. 

“Employees affect the corporate brand so this is both a defensive measure to uncover embarrassing content; and an offensive one, to prove you’d be a brilliant ambassador for them.”

You might not be able to get legal work experience right now, but explore a few of these ideas and you can still give yourself some skills that won’t just help with work – they’ll be good for life.

Our partnership with The University of Law

The University of Law

The Student Room is proud to work with The University of Law as the official partner of our law hub, where current and future law students can find the advice and guidance they need.

The University of Law welcomes intelligent, ambitious students interested in the world around them; people who question systems, procedures and behaviours, and are not afraid to challenge convention.

Study at The University of Law and you’ll be equipped with the professional knowledge you need to excel in your chosen career, and supported by an award-winning employability service to help you get there.