Articles From the Team
Paralegal jobs: how to gain experience as a law grad
A number of recent graduates and those who've completed their LLM/LPC are desperate to get some hands-on experience now their exams are over. However, many face difficulty in securing a role as a lot of law firms require some level of case-handling experience.
If this is you, don’t feel too frustrated; it’s common, but you do have options.
What I witness on a regular basis is a law graduate who isn't open to hearing about roles unless it fits into the paralegal jobs category. The common misconception being that non-paralegal positions won’t provide the hands-on experience that's required to progress in their legal career.
On the contrary, there are many roles other than paralegal to equip graduates in meeting experience criteria.
Legal secretary jobs
For instance, a legal secretary role provides the ability to work in a fast-paced environment. Unlike paralegal jobs, you may not have your own caseload, but you’ll gain exposure in assisting solicitors with matters e.g. preparing bundles for court, or liaising with a client or the other side. If you’re asked to photocopy or scan legal documents, you may not realise it but you’re familiarising yourself and giving yourself a head start.
Furthermore, many solicitors are happy to answer any questions you might have – about the work you’re assisting them with – and this can lead to progression opportunities.
Legal assistant jobs
Legal assistant jobs are also overlooked and shouldn’t be. In fact, legal assistant jobs can provide graduates with as much hands-on experience as a paralegal role. In addition, many firms provide training rather than dropping candidates in the deep end.
Working as a legal secretary or legal assistant will help develop your confidence, cultivate your commercial awareness, help you find the best way to communicate with certain clients and solicitors, and enable you to outline – during an interview for a full-time position – the transferable skills you’ve gained, which could land you your dream paralegal role.
If I can provide you with one last tip, it’s to not rush in securing a training contract when looking for roles. I completely understand you’ve put a lot of effort into your exams and into qualifying, but thinking outside the box and taking on a role you hadn't considered previously, will also help you to decide which area of law you’d like to specialise in. It might even help you to decide whether you stay in law. After all, legal theory is very different from legal practice!