How to Get Work Experience in the Legal FieldLaw . Tips
The legal field is a booming and competitive market that demands a competent skill set. Like any professional field, the law requires education and experience. Many students interested in a legal career take a gap year or two before entering law school to work in the field and gain experience that can be added to their school applications. Other students find internships to complete during law school, while others focus on completing all their education first and apply what they know to find a job.
Regardless of how one pursues an interest in law, the experience is essential. Here are suggestions on how to get work experience in the legal field.
Contract workers are growing in popularity with law firms. Independent contractors save firms money on litigation costs as they are hired to work for specific projects. Contract workers are hired through legal staffing firms to help handle the labor-intensive work of reviewing documents for litigation. Tasks may include discovery requests, subpoenas, and regulatory requests.
Contracted projects can last anywhere from several days to several years and at the conclusion of the project, a contract employee will be discharged. This is a great way to stand out and impress an employer who may consider offering full-time, permanent work with the firm.
Temporary, Part-Time, or Volunteer Work
Similar to contract work is temporary employment. Legal staffing agencies place temporary employees for short-term assignments for a fee. Taking on temporary work is one way to discover opportunities within a law firm. Many law firms bring on temporary workers as a provisional screening before offering full-time employment.
Law firms have several high-turnover positions that are in constant need of filling. File clerks are responsible for filing, organizing, and managing case files. Court filers handle the filing of motions, pleadings, briefs, and discovery documents. Messengers get documents from outside parties. Roles such as these are not high-paying but offer the chance to get a foot in the door.
Another avenue to gain rich, hands-on experience is through volunteering. This work will be unpaid, however, it’s an opportunity to get experience in the non-profit and public interest organization realm. Volunteer opportunities can be found through a local bar association, legal aid office, or legal association.
Internships may require a little more effort to find as they are not always advertised. These unpaid positions are can be with law firms, corporations, insurance companies, non-profit organizations, and government offices. Internships are best for students in law school.
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Legal Secretary or Paralegal
For those with limited experience consider finding work as a legal secretary. This role relies more on administrative experience and is ideal for someone who knows the ins and outs of clerical duties. Legal secretaries work side-by-side with lawyers in smaller offices, so the opportunities to gain valuable experience are high.
Paralegals assist attorneys in the day to day tasks of delivering legal services. Paralegals don’t practice law, but they do help lawyers practice law by taking on time-consuming tasks. This means arranging expert mediation, giving behind the scenes support in the courtroom, drafting legal documents and pleadings, handling discovery, and investigating case facts.
This role is essential to a personal injury attorney for children. Stanley Law Offices routinely consults with investigators and experts to prepare cases in order to secure the best possible compensation for injured children.