Applying for law summer interships

(85 Posts)
FloatingLeaf Sat 22-Feb-20 11:29:06

DD has begun applying for summer law internships in the city and is a 3rd year undergraduate. She doesn’t seem to be getting very far in the process. There is a lot of online testing and then she is told she is through to the next round which i think is when they read her actual application. She is always rejected after they’ve looked at application. Quite a lot of people she knows applied in second year and now have a training contract.

I’m curious as to why she might be getting rejected once they look at actual application.
-GCSEs dodgy
-A levels grades good (grammar school sixth form)
-Heading for decent 2:1 at very good university
-reasonable extra curricular stuff

From what I understand these are characteristics of her more successful friends
-good GCSEs
-good a-levels (private school)
-Most have got for 2:1 overall so far, but some may get firsts.
-more extra-curricular, ie representing uni at various sports, putting on plays.
-speak 1 or more other languages fluently.

I also get the impression they are a bit more sophisticated ie parents have high-flying jobs, lived abroad a lot. (Although they couldn’t know that till they had face to face contact.)
I think she has worked hard on the personal statement type bit and has looked at what successful candidates have written so hopefully that’s not too far off the mark.

She has very little work experience and none to do with law.

Any thoughts as to what may be weakening her applications other than it being so so competitive?

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PinkGinAndTacos Sat 22-Feb-20 11:33:10

Has she approached the careers service at her uni?
Many universities offer summer internship schemes with a subsidy to the employer. It might be worth speaking to them about this.
I take it shes done a 3 year degree and not a sandwich year?
Finally if she has little in the way of experience I'd recommend that she get some volunteering under her belt. Lots if charities are looking for law students. Again there should be a volunteering team at the uni to assist her with finding something suitable.
Which uni is she at?

ScottishDiblet Sat 22-Feb-20 11:37:12

Hello! I’m so sorry this must feel very tough. Hmmm I remember (a long time ago) hearing that the competition for the summer vac jobs was tougher than for the training contracts. Is there anyone at the law soc/ careers service your DD can talk to about helping with her form? Has she done any law type volunteering? Eg with the local /uni pro bono law centre or at court? I imagine they might look for things like that - could she maybe volunteer for that from now? Perhaps she could talk about the jobs she has had during her uni holidays (even though non law related) and day how they inspire her re law - eg working in a shop and handling returns - unfair contract terms??? Employment law?!!! Basically work with what she has got and try to apply it to law. It shouldn’t matter if she hasn’t been to top schools/got experience at a law firm yet. How about saying she sometimes goes to the local mags/county court to watch proceedings?

FloatingLeaf Sat 22-Feb-20 11:45:09

Thanks for reply PinkGin.
I should have said, she is a history undergraduate and therefore has not done sandwich degree. She’s at Cambridge so I don’t think it’s an option.
I know she has had contact with uni career service but don’t know if university would subsidise internships. I will ask I am beginning to think any experience will be helpful. No volunteering, definitely something to consider but at present has no legal knowledge!

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whatthehelldowecare Sat 22-Feb-20 11:53:02

Speaking from experience, it's really difficult to get a summer internship with no experience at all. It's one of the most infuriating things ever. Not enough experience to get any experience. My advice would be to keep chipping away at the 'big' applications, but in the meantime, also send round speculative emails to smaller local firms. They'll be more likely to take her on, even for a week or two, and atleast then she has some stuff for her cv/history.

Applying for summer placements (and then training contracts) was the most mentally exhausting thing I have ever had to do, but tell her to keep at it - it's worth it in the end x

PinkGinAndTacos Sat 22-Feb-20 12:02:11

I work in a uni in an internships team (very outing)
We have a subsidised scheme which is about to kick off. I think she might struggle because shes studying an unrelated subject and has no experience, that said nothing is impossible and I have seen students go to extraordinary lengths to find the right person within a company to try and gain some experience.
Sometime approaching a company speculatively can be a really good call, it show initiative and often it's a case of making a good impression to the right person. I think she definitely needs to look at volunteering along side this as a source of experience. It's also been proven that people with volunteering experience on their cvs are more likely to get ab interview than people without.

Notonthestairs Sat 22-Feb-20 12:03:33

I guess she's competing with law graduates with similar profiles.
I agree she needs to cast her net far so local firms as well as larger city based firms. Maybe volunteering (it will be photocopying stuff) at CAB centres. Has she approached your local council legal department? CPS? I don't know whether they do placements.

Has she talked to the law graduates at university- she needs to pick their brains.

It is frustrating but once you got even a week of experience (in any area of law) under your belt other opportunities trickle through. They want to see commitment which is difficult when you can't get a foot in the door.


PinkGinAndTacos Sat 22-Feb-20 12:05:34

Get her to login and look at the opportunities they have on offer

PinkGinAndTacos Sat 22-Feb-20 12:07:42

Also some unis offer mentoring from professionals who donate their time. This might be a good shout or to approach people with this proposal.
Make sure shes had her cv checked. Also does she have LinkedIn?

FloatingLeaf Sat 22-Feb-20 12:17:37

Thanks Diblett. I think the applications ask her to discuss mergers and acquisitions or something along those lines as she is applying to large corporate law firms. So I’m not sure our trip to the Old Bailey would be relevant. Though I have to say it was really interesting. It may have even put her off. In one case the defendant was defending himself. his mobile phone kept going off much to the judges annoyance and the poor man didn’t know how to switch it off. When it rang the third time he ran out of the courtroom with it and left it in corridor!
But I digress, I think volunteering will have to wait as she is in third year coming up to finals.
I assume there is somewhere she could put summer jobs. But not sure if she could/should discuss these with relation to law.
Hopefully something will come up, but I’m just wondering why friends with similar academic profiles are so much more successful .

OP’s posts: |
FloatingLeaf Sat 22-Feb-20 12:22:49

As far as I know she has linkedin and I know has been to the careers advice.
Hopefully her CV has been checked.
Do employers actually go onto LinkedIn to recruit??

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fairgroundsnack Sat 22-Feb-20 12:23:19

I’m a partner at a US law firm in London. Vac schemes are very competitive, probably even more so than training contracts. Some firms run open days as well as or instead of vac schemes - I would suggest applying for those too. Also I’d suggest she casts her net wide and applies to smaller firms with vac schemes as well as the magic circle and top US firms. The smaller firms are probably a bit less competitive and probably less likely to filter her out as a result of GCSE grades. I doubt that being a non-law student makes any difference, it might actually be an advantage as firms want a mixture of law and non law students on the schemes.

fairgroundsnack Sat 22-Feb-20 12:27:58

Which college is she at? She could look for an alumnus/alumna through the careers service and see if they can help? I do this via the Cambridge careers service. Also she could look at volunteering for CAB or at a tribunal service. Don’t assume that the trip to the old bailey is irrelevant, it shows a general interest in the law.

FloatingLeaf Sat 22-Feb-20 12:32:51

Notonthestairs- I agree that getting any experience might open some doors. I have looked at LinkedIn and some friends have done stints of work experience prior to applying for summer internships. Maybe she’ll need to see if she can get some experience or shadowing. I did suggest the volunteering early on but I think spread herself thinly doing other things plus getting through workload and of course socialising.
I agree that she’s going to be competing with law graduates, but the wisdom on MN seems to be that it’s 50:50 law and non law that get recruited. Although I would have imagined law students would have the edge.

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RandomMoth Sat 22-Feb-20 12:44:50

15 years ago or so now, I was applying for training contracts after I'd finished my oxbridge degree. Very much got the sense that I was perceived as having missed the boat by the bigger firms as I hadnt followed the usual route of an internship in the 2nd year, I think they doubted my commitment when compared to the other candidates.

I ended up training with a smaller London firm and the compromise I made was I took out a loan to cover my own LPC fees, and did the course over 2 years so I could work at the same time.

It was a trickier start than it needed to be. If I'd just got my arse in gear and applied when everyone else did I think I'd have found a 'better' training contract, but I'm now a partner at a top 50 law firm so all was well in the end.

FloatingLeaf Sat 22-Feb-20 12:50:42

whatthehell thanks. I think lack of experience is a barrier. Though not sure if all her more successful friends had any . Dad has also said that the application process is gruelling and very time consuming and I’m not sure if she is now waiting to graduate before continuing to apply for the ones that are so involved.
I think she should have time to send our speculative CVs. Would she be asking for work experience or shadowing?
I have definitely told her not to give up and I don’t think she will.

OP’s posts: |
user1487194234 Sat 22-Feb-20 12:54:33

Try everything to get some experience
Do you know anyone in law
I have had lots of friends kids and friends of my kids in for say a few days
That seems to have helped them with future applications

FloatingLeaf Sat 22-Feb-20 12:58:41

PinkGin, I wasn’t aware there was such a thing as an internship team in universities. Obviously I can’t ask which uni? grin
Another barrier is nowhere to stay in London where she really wants to be if she doesn’t get paid internship.
I will definitely encourage voluntary work, even if it means staying at home for a bit. And speculative cvs. Mentoring could also be beneficial
Will ask her to explore with careers advice!

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FloatingLeaf Sat 22-Feb-20 13:06:09

Fairground snack
Interesting that vac scheme more competitive than training contracts. Especially as they seem to pay so well (modest background here). To be honest I thought you had to a vac scheme to get training contract.

From what you are saying she could be being filtered out by GCSE grades.

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FloatingLeaf Sat 22-Feb-20 13:08:38

I will ask about getting in contact with alumni of her college. Is this something that the alumnus volunteer to do or would she have to track them down and cold call?

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FloatingLeaf Sat 22-Feb-20 13:12:15

Thank you RandomMoth. I did ask her if applying in Year 3 was an issue. Plus having no relevant experience.
This is inspiring though. Where there’s a will there’s a way!!

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FloatingLeaf Sat 22-Feb-20 13:14:21

I don’t have any contacts in law. Some close friends of hers parents are, but I think it would be appropriate to ask if see what I mean.

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VanCleefArpels Sat 22-Feb-20 13:24:12

Without any relevant work experience she will not be able to demonstrate sufficient commitment to the law as a career. It will come across as having chosen the law for want of any better idea of what she wants to do. She will be up against candidates who have worked in their local solicitors /barristers chambers since school and/or volunteered at CAB or local law centre and/or have been mooting competitively at Uni and/or edited or written for the Uni law society magazine etc etc etc. Thousands of students apply to the top Vac schemes every year. She is nowhere near a strong candidate I’m afraid.

Sunshinelollipops1 Sat 22-Feb-20 13:38:25

Agree with VanCleef it will be her lack of work experience (and not her background/lack of contacts). Most of the top solicitors remove information about schooling etc to ensure no bias.

I would recommend:

- she writes to High Street solicitors in her area and tries and get work experience or in Cambridge
- volunteer with a charity like CAB, Women’s Aid
- joins the law society at Cambridge - they will often have talks/information about opportunities

goodbyestranger Sat 22-Feb-20 13:46:32

I'm afraid to say that VanCleefArpels is right. From the little you've said, her profile doesn't suggest any particular reason for wanting to go into City law. DD1 and DD3 were at Oxford and didn't have any problem with getting Magic Circle vac schemes but both were reading Law, both had won a national law competition at school, one hels a Law Soc position, the other did lots of university mooting from the outset etc. DS3 also didn't have any problem (and is about to start at a Magic Circle firm) but then he read History at Oxford not Law, and never really thought of going into law at all until he got a banking job and then decided he'd rather be in the City as a lawyer. He also applied with a first under his belt, which helped hugely. I suspect he too would have got very little joy applying before he graduated.

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