How to get Practical Legal Experience During COVID-19

Kim Koelmeyer

COVID-19 has made getting practical legal experience harder than ever. 

Many placements have been cancelled, legal offices are in survival mode, and law students are left with few options to pick up practical legal skills. 


Gaining practical legal experience during study is an important part of law graduate employability. It puts what you’re learning into perspective, and develops important skills including professional communication, file management and negotiation. And for some universities, it’s mandatory to graduate. 


However, there are some things you can still do during these unprecedented times to get meaningful legal experience, while boosting your employability in a post-COVID-19 world. 


Attend Virtual Events


While in-person events have been suspended, many firms and organisations have moved their events online. Events, workshops and webinars are a valuable way of staying aware of new legal issues, learning relevant skills and hearing from the experts while doing so. 


Keeping one step ahead of trends in the legal profession is important. It puts your practical skills into context and keeps you up to date on how they might be implemented now, and in the future.You will also provide more value if you know how upcoming issues can affect your clients.


So be sure to follow your favourite organisations, and jump on their upcoming events to ensure you remain up-to-date on all the latest developments. 


Get a Mentor


The relationships you form in your career play a crucial role in your career outcomes. The people you have in your orbit can affect what skills you develop, what you know about the profession, and what opportunities are on your radar. 


While this may seem daunting, particularly to those who don’t know any lawyers personally, you’ll find that you have the power to build your network and create strong professional relationships. The most important of these relationships is a mentor. 


Everyone you admire in the legal profession was once a student, and have gotten to where they are through their own unique journey. Developing a mentoring relationship with someone you are interested in following can give you an insight into the kind of moves they made in their career, and benefit from their experience and advice. Plus, you never know what opportunities may pop up by being connected with them!


You will find most people are willing to at least give you half an hour of their time to answer your questions. So don’t be afraid to send that LinkedIn message!


While you are able to informally reach out and develop a relationship, there are formal mentoring programs available to law students if you want a bit more structure and help with the process. 


InsideSherpa


InsideSherpa is an online platform which houses virtual experiences for a range of law firms such as White & Case and King & Wood Mallesons. They are completely online, free, and open to all students. They provide a taste of some of the tasks you may undertake in a commercial firm, such as legal research and drafting documents. 


For those more social-justice aligned, The College of Law has a Human Rights Law Internship, where you can experience what it’s like to be a human rights lawyer. 


Since we’re all stuck at home, getting a sample of the legal experience out there with InsideSherpa can be a great way to keep your practical development on track. 


Anika Legal’s Practical Unit at participating Victorian Law Schools including the University of Melbourne.


Anika Legal is working towards a world where everyone can access justice. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Anika is providing urgent legal advice to Victorian renters to help them understand their tenancy rights amidst the rapidly passed COVID-19 tenancy laws, and to negotiate rent reductions with their landlord. We also help renters get their homes repaired to a safe and secure state.


We are also passionate about providing law students with virtual legal experience, allowing them to gain practical skills from their own home. Recent events have made the importance of experience in using legal technology abundantly clear, which is why we are excited to be a host organisation with the University of Melbourne's LAWS50059 Legal Internship unit.


With Anika, you can directly assist Victorian renters, work entirely online, and pick up relevant legal skills such as client communication, teamwork and negotiation. Plus, you will contribute to access to justice in the midst of a pandemic, all while getting credit towards your degree.


Places are limited, so be sure to get your application in before June 5.


For those not at the University of Melbourne, you can still register your interest for an Anika internship.


Conclusion


Life has certainly become harder for law students seeking practical experience. While it’s easy to sink into pessimism as opportunities fall through, there are still plenty of ways you can continue your practical legal education. 


With Anika, you can get practical legal experience from the comfort of your own home, when it suits you. We have received an unprecedented amount of requests since COVID-19, so you will be able to contribute to meaningful client work, and develop crucial legal skills in the process. 


The law school experience may look different next year, or even next semester. But the best you can do as a student is take it in your stride, and find new, innovative ways to develop experience and remain employable. 

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