The word ‘application’ probably strikes a fear in the hearts of most students. It certainly does for me. The daunting task of trying to impress, or less romantically put, ‘sell yourself’, isn’t exactly easy. It’s not because there’s nothing to put on the applications, rather it’s the self-consciousness that accompanies it. It’s a fine line between looking accomplished and looking arrogant. It’s also a fine line between looking passionate and looking desperate. This balancing act is one I regularly wrangle over. Despite my own reservations I will do my best to share what I think is important to undertake and consider.
Any student should be trying to make the most of their time at university. So it shouldn’t just be a CV-boosting exercise to join societies or Union Council. That being said, they are valuable assets and can demonstrate an ability to balance a healthy work/life balance. Also, a law degree leans heavily towards the theoretical side. Many UK universities, Leicester included, do not have an ‘advocacy’ element in their course. So it is always a good idea to engage in competitions like debating or mooting; even if you are absolutely certain you want to be a solicitor and not a barrister. Participating in competitions shows an ability to develop arguments and a passion for tackling problems. If you haven’t done any of these extra-curricular activities, there’s still some time. Get involved!
With all of these activities it should be quite hard to keep your CV to two pages. However, most employers look for some experience before taking someone on board. There’s the bizarre situation where you have to have experience to get more experience. How to break into this circle is the problem I am currently dealing with. I have carried out work in areas related to my desired profession but haven’t done anything ‘strictly’ legal-based.
However I have had some successes. For wannabe human rights lawyers (like myself) volunteering for a CAB or some sort of advice centre is looked upon kindly. I managed to work for 3 months at a Refugee and Migrant Centre. It has been invaluable: both as an insight into areas of law that concern me, and as a key point of conversation in applications and interviews. I have also been more successful when I have introduced a unique perspective on things. For example, why my background has influenced my passion for human rights.
In between the revision, exams and partying I have sent off some applications. There are many more yet to send. Equipped with my handy ‘Chambers Student Guide’ and some research I hope I can secure a vacation scheme or mini-pupillage. Best of luck to any other students out there trying to get experience. Feel free to add comments or advice.