Maximising work experience programmes within the legal sector

The focus on work experience is growing in all industries, especially within the legal sector. To share best practices on how to utilise work experience programmes, we brought together key players from within the industry at our recent breakfast panel event, hosted in association with international law firm, Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner.

What works?

There are six key areas of best practice that you can establish:

  1. Strive to provide the highest quality placements
  2. Be flexible around timing and length
  3. Make it relevant – align with their ambitions
  4. Preparation is everything
  5. Offer a clear, varied and structured programme of events
  6. Enable growth by encouraging feedback from the business and participants

Delivering a compelling experience for young people

Once the candidates have been reached, it’s down to the work experience provider to create a programme that resonates. Michelle Ruddle, Recruitment Manager at Hogan Lovells, believes this begins by building great relationships with schools and colleges. To ensure students are engaged from the outset, it’s important to work with alumni to recreate content that worked for them.

Moreover, when it comes to the resourcing challenge that creating a varied work experience programme presents, Michelle recommended working with external partners. Firstly, they can support with promotion of the programme, and secondly with the screening of applicants. As a result, this alleviates pressure on the internal team, whilst guaranteeing a high calibre of talent.

Tracking impact

To make sure you constantly improve your programme and maximise results, you need to track the impact.

For example, at Clifford Chance, they started with a one-week scheme open to year 12 students. After that, they progressed to a five-year development programme supporting students from sixth form, through to their applications for graduate schemes.

Jackie Trench, Graduate Recruitment Manager at Clifford Chance, believes connectr is integral in developing the long-term relationship between the business and candidates. Moreover, it keeps young people engaged with bite sized content devised to resonate with them.

 

The results

Demonstrating the impact that work experience within the legal sector can have on young people, the event concluded with a talk from former PRIME student, Arun Sohan-Pall. Arun’s parents didn’t go to university, but he felt the pressure to pursue a career that would be deemed ‘respectable’. Certainly for him, the PRIME work experience proved critical, particularly in developing the soft skills needed for a successful career in law. Therefore, it helped to build confidence, teach office etiquette, and showcase the basics of the industry.

Now a future trainee solicitor, Arun believes that the authenticity and exposure programmes like PRIME offer are key to unlocking the huge potential of underrepresented talent.

"Diverse talent, including those from ethnic minorities and disadvantaged backgrounds, can only be reached via a targeted approach. Therefore, businesses must adopt a strategy devised specifically to reach these overlooked and hard-to-reach talent pools if they want to unlock the huge potential they have to offer."

Tim Smith, Co-head of the Social Inclusivity and Diversity Taskforce Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner

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