Interview with a UCL Laws Student on Gaining Work Experience
Updated: Jan 30
This week we interviewed a current UCL Laws student on their experience with the course and in completing legal work experience.
Q: How is studying law coming along?
A: Honestly, it was a lot more than I was expecting, especially with the workload. I think it's more than I expected, coming from A-levels it's been quite a steep dive. But honestly, it’s manageable, especially in terms of at least first year, it was very manageable. In terms of the community, I feel like it could be quite intimidating at first, but as long as you have a few close friends then you'll get by. I think the most important thing is honestly just routine, and not letting yourself fall behind, because that's when work snowballs. But other than that, if you keep up with work. I think you’ll be okay. But overall, I find the course quite fun and the information is very useful; it's not as if you're getting information that you can never apply again!
Q: What areas of law interest you, and why?
A: Hmm, I'd say I went in being most interested in criminal law because who isn't, right? But I would still say that I enjoy it a lot, though I don't think that it’s something that I'd want to practise. I'm currently a lot more interested in IP, but I still want to learn more about it, and I don't know that much about it at the moment. But I think that the deeper you go into law, the more you find interesting that you initially wouldn't have. For instance, property law. Initially, I was like, it's a piece of land. How interesting could it be? But I really found that especially through internships and work experience that being able to apply the work that I learned in class and seeing it in real world scenarios and realising how it affects people was something that really interested me.
Q: You've recently done an internship with a law firm; could you tell me a little bit more about the internship in terms of what you did and what you learned?
A: I did an internship in a firm that had different areas of specialisation. I just asked them to put me into random departments because I wasn't too sure what I wanted to try out, and I just worked in the areas that the firm specialised in. For instance, I did a few days in real estate, which was really fun in terms of writing leases, looking at deeds, and looking at communication between clients, and I think that they give you a lot of work that's research based. I loved how you get to learn about things that you never thought you'd have to learn about! I spent four hours researching the requirements to build a campsite in terms of health and safety, all of that kind of legislation. That is something I never thought I'd sit down and spend my life doing, but it's actually really fun.
Q: Why do you think it's important or valuable to get work experience in pursuing a legal career?
A: Especially with popular TV shows and media, I feel like the legal career can be glamorised. Just look at criminal law shows such as how to get away with murder; it’s easy to watch it and think oh, I want to do this. I want to wear a suit and look smart and walk into work when the reality of the situation is that a lot of the time it's a 9 to 7 Pm grind! I think it’s really important that you actually enjoy or are interested in the work, or you're not going to survive.
It's also really important to consider the work-life balance of a lawyer and the dedication it takes to become one.
Q: What advice would you give to someone who is trying to get work experience in law?
A: I think generally just networking. Obviously, if it's your first time looking for something just apply to as many firms as you can. This can be challenging, especially as it is very difficult mentally to get around, especially if you don't know a lot about the direction you want to head in, but just apply. There's no harm in it! And as a starter, just ask around to see if you have any family friends or any small businesses locally that you can reach out to, because I think that's honestly a really good start on just getting some experience.