Completed your law degree/GDL?
Legal work experience can improve your chances of getting a training contract (TC). However, competition is notoriously fierce and you may need to apply several times before succeeding.
You might find yourself having completed a law degree or GDL without a TC. You might be therefore be hesitant to commit to the Legal Practice Course due to its expense without the guarantee of a TC afterwards.
One option which will strengthen your position is to find legal work whilst continuing to apply for Vac Schemes and TCs. Since you have completed a law degree or GDL conversion course, you’ll be ready to find proper legal work experience. You already have the legal knowledge to be paid for your work, but working will help you to build up further legal skills. This can make you a much more attractive applicant for TCs and Vac Schemes.
There are a great deal of opportunities to find legal work, especially in London. Many of these jobs can be found through recruitment agencies, some of which are listed below. These agencies will have the contacts and networks to help you find a role in law firms and legal outsourcing companies.
The roles range from longer-term paralegal roles to project-based document review positions. Additionally, some of these agencies have contacts with larger law firms and businesses. You may even end up working as a paralegal/document reviewer for a law firm at which you apply for a TC!
An added bonus of these paralegal/document review roles is that they are often offered on a temporary basis. Roles such as document review are offered on a project by project basis, which means that you might only need to work on a project for a matter of days to weeks. In this way, you can gain experience using document review software over the course of several projects, whilst also working on a wide range of legal scenarios.
In my experience working as a document reviewer, I worked on three different projects, relating to intellectual property, M&A and real estate all within the span of 2 months. On top of that, you can learn how to use the popular document review program, Relativity, which is an attractive skill to have on your CV. As a document reviewer, you might be involved in litigation projects. These projects will help you to understand key concepts such as pre-action protocols and disclosure rules. Document review roles vary from in-house at a law firm, to working in a legal outsourcing company who manages the initial stages of document review for law firms.
A quick tip from us: Some document review roles will require you to have previous experience of Relativity software. If you don’t have this, we’d recommend that you go to F-LEX/DA Solutions first, since they have good contacts with legal outsourcers who don’t require prior experience and will provide training on the software. After completing a project or two with them, you’ll be much more familiar with the software and will be eligible to apply for longer-term document review roles which may be higher paid or in the law firms themselves.
Already completed your LPC?
If you’ve finished your LPC, you’ll be more likely to be considered for paralegal roles in larger city law firms and other businesses. Being able to commit to 3 – 6 months of work can help to secure higher level roles. It’s worth noting that such an extensive period of time as a paralegal will also allow you to build up your professional network and can potentially show the firm that you’d also be a good trainee too. Even when working in a temporary role, make sure to give it your best, because you never know, you could be applying for a more permanent role there in the future.
A few agencies to get you started…
We’ve listed a few legal recruitment agencies to help you on your way. We encourage you to sign up to a few of them and see where it takes you. That way, you can maximise the number of job opportunities sent your way. Most of them will want to arrange a meeting with you to see what sort of experience you have and what sort of roles you’re looking for.
All references to face-to-face interviews are likely to have been changed to video calls due to the pandemic.
DA Solutions: Link
- Likely to ask for a face-to-face meeting
- Work with many legal outsourcers for document review roles
- Also provide longer-term roles with some magic circle firms and banks (NB: you may need the LPC/6-month availability in order to get these roles)
- Usually very prompt and efficient with replying to queries and arranging work
Ryder Reid: Link
- Likely to ask for a face-to-face meeting
- Generally offer more long-term roles and fewer temporary document review roles
- Have larger clients, potentially American firms
- Be aware that some roles which you are put forward for, may require a further interview, especially if it is a long term role
Career Legal: Link
- Might not necessarily ask for a face-to-face meeting
- Post many of their roles to their LinkedIn pages
- Many roles tend to be 3 – 6 months
- Offer a few temporary document review roles (but not as often as DA Solutions)
- Some document review roles require previous experience with Relativity; if you don’t have this, DA Solutions work with outsourcers which don’t require prior experience and will train you how to use the software. You can complete a short project with DA Solutions, lean how to use Relativity and you’ll be eligible for a much wider range of roles.
The Stephen James Partnership: Link
- I personally did not have a face-to-face meeting
- Variety of roles from document review to paralegals
- Work with large, international law firms
- Longer-term, in-house roles may require an interview stage
- Particularly good if you do not yet have much legal experience
- Face-to-face onboarding interview to discuss experiences and goals
- Roles often pay approx. £12/hour
- Mainly document review roles on offer
- You will be sent an email when a suitable job comes through and you will be required to respond if you are interested with your availability
If you do end up signing up for an agency, give us a heads up and we might be able to provide you with a referral name to mention when you meet them. If you end up getting a role through the agency, please do let us know…