By Anjali Shah
In chronological order, the lockdown period has given me many opportunities to be able develop, grow, and challenge my skill set. As we all were slowly becoming used to remote working, with the television on, snacks around us, and surrounded by family 24/7, I was presented with various opportunities, received in my inbox, to keep myself occupied (besides TikTok and baking several recipes over and over until I got fed up.) I would highly recommend taking part in all sorts of virtual work experiences you may find online, as they are useful for expanding your knowledge, and show that you have been pro-active during such a distressing time. All virtual internships provide a certificate of completion as a result of your participation.
The first virtual internship I took part to was the Legal Cheek Virtual Vacation Scheme. This was running between June 22nd and 26th, was the best start to remote learning, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. As put by the publisher of Legal Cheek, Alex Aldridge, a positive aspect that came out during this pandemic was embracing the use of virtual platforms.
This experience got me through a challenging time where I was feeling unsure on possibilities of gaining work experience. This scheme helped me realise what was the best and most efficient way to use my time. Before I heard of this scheme, I had already applied to become Campus Ambassador for this legal platform, and was awaiting for further updates from them.
The Legal Cheek virtual scheme could not have been planned any better. It went amazingly and was run in partnership with the University of Law. Each day was different, but in most of them speakers would come to the virtual ‘stage’ and provide their content. Each day ended with a case study exercise – keeping us on our toes and providing food for thought. For example, some case studies regarded government bailouts or the criteria of a client pitch. Opportunities to network online and visit ‘booths’ labelled “after drinks” were provided. Here I was able to meet people who I still network with to this day.
The talks delivered from the Legal Cheek team and their speakers were exceptional – for instance, the “Coronavirus impacting the legal market, legal technology” talk, or the “Learning about life as a litigator” one. Many of the speakers were engaging and very informative while delivering their talks, which allowed me to develop much better understanding and knowledge of areas I was not aware of prior. It was important for me to partake in this experience, so that I could hear the opinions of those working in the legal industry.
I thoroughly enjoyed this work experience and would love to give a special shoutout and recognition to those that have really struck me during the scheme, and whom I enjoyed every moment of their presentation of. They were Alex Aldridge, whom I thank for allowing this scheme to happen; Dan Kayne, from the General Counsel of Network Rail, who taught me a lot about in-house practices; Philip Dupres, Managing Associate from Addleshaw Goddard, who really broke down the legal commercial market; Siobhan Taylor-Ward, solicitor at Merseyside Law Centre, who had such a pure nature, and her passion on being a mental health support worker really shined through; and lastly Sam Cottman, who by describing the experiences that shaped him and the tremendous work he has done for his community and clients, felt really eye-opening.
The second virtual internship I was able to take part in was hosted by Bright Network, which was running between July 14th and 16th. Bright Network is a platform which offers individuals across the world with helpful opportunities, insights, and advice to help them succeed and grow. It is significantly career focused and has a great presence, especially for university students and UK graduates.
Bright Network held a commercial law internship, but included many other non-commercial law elements in it as well. This was a shorter virtual experience than Legal Cheek, consisting of 3 days only. Day 1 consisted of a series of seminars held by prestigious law firms, such as Clyde & Co, Herbert Smith Freehills, Slaughter and May, Sidley, and Allen & Overy. These seminars included discussions focussing on core skills for junior lawyers, legal drafting, and business research. They really developed the mindset that lawyers have when working in their Training Contract seats, how their work is carried out, and their day-to-day tasks in the office.
Day 2 included time to network online and discuss a work sample which attendats needed to complete. This provided time to work with students across the world, and was very thoughtful as it made me imagine how it would be working with a diversity of people in different offices. Attendants’ work was marked by their peers. This experience, as stated in the Bright Network website, will give you the ‘competitive advantage to stand out in future applications’ where you will ‘learn new skills, enhance your professional network and gain an insight into what a career with top firms will look like,’. This I can vouch for, especially in regards to networking as this was a fundamental part of the programme. It was also very enjoyable to connect with professionals whose work you have appreciated.
Lastly, the University of Law experience (ULaw), ran between August 4th and 6th. This was a 3-day internship involving lectures and workshops. I enjoyed the ‘CV workshop’ that was hosted, as it allowed me to keep in mind what employers would notice when they review a CV. I was also introduced to modules such as employment law, re-introduced to the importance of contracts and land law. A useful session that foccussed on LinkedIn and its uses was held.
Lastly, I was assigned to a group in which a task began, focusing on the important question of 'How law firms could become more diverse.' I engaged in talks of the importance of pro-bono work and corporate law and lastly, I presented the presentation with my peers and received good feed-back regarding it, which boosted my morale in how remote working will be, as it is unprecedented how long the world can remain in this manner.
To round this up, I hope I have highlighted how enjoyable and important virtual work experiences can be during a pandemic crisis. They are not just for times like this; if you ever find yourself wanting to learn something new, such as picking up a new hobby, learning a new skills, there are so many which can be found online. Give it a try and see how far you go! Here is a list of places I have found useful for me and hopefully you could too! (These include opportunities regarding virtual experiences, law fairs, webinars, useful newsletters that discuss more opportunities and commercial awareness, ambassador roles and more)
- Legal Cheek
- Bright Network
- University of Law
- BPP University Law School
- Aspiring Solicitors
- Inside Sherpa
- Watson Daily (App and Newsletter)
- Ilona’s Career Knocks Newsletter
-Harry’s Law Life