Legal work experience

Information on building legal work experience.

Getting a law degree is a great start, but to stand out in a competitive job market employers seek more than a degree. Work experience is a great way to discover and develop skills, to explore career ideas and to demonstrate the transferable skills and competencies sought by employers. Recruiters look for well-rounded applicants; they view non-legal work experience just as valuable as legal work experience.

There are many ways to build up work experience and it all counts on CVs and applications to help you be noticed; here are some suggestions:


Check out the events section of MyCareerHub to stay up-to-date with events and workshops, which take place throughout each semester. Employers support these events, which are free to attend and will help you to discover what’s out there and gain a better insight into specific organisations and roles. We also list external events on MyCareerHub, which include legal organisations and firms:

MyCareerHub events

Part-time work

We advertise hundreds of part-time jobs on MyCareerHub every year ranging from retail, hospitality, on-campus opportunities and office work. You might also be able to apply for brand ambassador roles for law firms or secure some administrative work within a legal team:

MyCareerHub opportunities

Read this guest blog from a law student on working as a server in a busy Edinburgh restaurant - it includes reflections on the skills developed:

Inform.ed blog - Serving and studying: working part-time in the food industry


Volunteering is another great way to gain skills, meet new people and make a difference.

The Students’ Association offers volunteering opportunities within the local community as well as UK based, for University of Edinburgh students. You can filter results when searching for opportunities by category e.g. “advice and advocacy”:

Edinburgh University Students' Association - volunteering opportunities

Citizens Advice provide free confidential advice and support to help people overcome problems such as legal, housing and financial matters. Volunteering opportunities differ by region:

Citizens Advice - search for volunteering opportunities

Consider pro bono work, which is the provision of free legal advice to those who are not eligible for legal aid. LawCareers.Net has compiled a comprehensive list of pro bono initiatives and volunteering opportunities in England and Wales:

LawCareers.Net - pro bono and volunteering opportunities

Student societies

Being part of a student society and having a position of responsibility will also help you to develop valuable skills such as leadership, organisation, communication and teamwork.

Edinburgh Law School has compiled a list of 15 groups and societies and there are over 290 student-led societies at the University so you are sure to find something that interests you:

Edinburgh Law School - groups and societies

Edinburgh University Students' Association - find a society

Insight/Open days

An increasing number of English and Welsh solicitors’ firms run law insight/open days targeted at first and second year students. These allow aspiring lawyers to spend a day at a law firm. During the day, you will meet experienced lawyers, trainees and graduate recruitment representatives and will gain a snapshot into the company culture and the type of work they do. Being selected to attend an insight/open day is a competitive process, so attending one not only gives you an insight into the field, but is a great addition to a legal CV:

LawCareers.Net - open days and insight schemes 2023

Opportunities for early years in the Scottish jurisdiction are more limited, but other commercial areas - finance and accountancy, consultancy, banking and professional services areas - are all likely to offer a variety of opportunities for early years and these can help to develop transferable skills. Check MyCareerHub for opportunities:

MyCareerHub opportunities

Virtual work experience

The University belongs to a free virtual work experience platform called Forage where you can gain a real understanding of different roles, and insights into leading firms such as Linklaters, Pinsent Masons and White & Case. The Virtual Experience Programmes include tackling hands-on tasks and modules similar to those undertaken during an internship with that organisation. Programmes typically take between 6-8 hours to complete:


Vacation schemes

Vacation schemes provide an insight into the roles of trainees and qualified solicitors. Typical tasks include shadowing a trainee, carrying out legal research, attending court and undertaking group work with your vacation scheme peers. Successful completion of a vacation scheme may lead to the offer of a traineeship/training contract.

Applying for a vacation scheme/internship in the third year of your LLB can improve your chances of securing a traineeship. For those students on the first year of the accelerated LLB, you may also be targeting legal work experience and internships.

Placements with large commercial Scottish law firms often open in November (or earlier) and close at the start of January or earlier – this means that accelerated LLB students can be applying for opportunities without even knowing the results of their first semester law subjects!

3rd year/finalists LLB students interested in English opportunities should apply for vacation schemes, which take place between one week and a month, in either spring, summer or winter. Applications for spring and summer vacation schemes open in October and tend to close in January. Applications for winter vacation schemes open in October and close in November.

Search for opportunities on MyCareerHub using a keyword such as “law” and select “Internship/placement” in the Type of work drop-down menu:

MyCareerHub - opportunities

Chambers Student - vacation scheme deadlines

Create your own opportunity

A speculative application is being proactive by directly contacting a law firm without there being a specific opportunity advertised. It’s common practice for small and medium sized firms not to advertise opportunities so applying speculatively may secure you some work experience. You should include your CV and cover letter as it gives you the chance to demonstrate your motivation and suitability. For more advice on how to succeed with speculative applications, visit our webpage:

Create your own opportunity

You can research firms to contact:

Law Society of Scotland - find a solicitor

The Law Society - find a solicitor - England and Wales covers solicitors UK wide - search for solicitors by area, law or location:

Diversity in the legal profession

Law firms are keen to increase diversity in the legal profession. There are a number of organisations that can help you present your profile to best effect:

Scottish Ethnic Minorities Lawyers' Association (SEMLA) aim to provide support and create career opportunities for ethnic minority law students in Scotland. You can sign up to their mailing list for future event notifications:

Scottish Ethnic Minorities Lawyers' Association

Legable seeks to make the legal profession accessible for everyone – regardless of your background. Their website provides information for undergraduate and postgraduate law students on work experience programmes and mentoring schemes for Scotland, Northern Ireland, England and Wales:

Legable - legal work experience

Aspiring solicitors

10,000 Interns Foundation


Create networks

Everyone you meet at University could be a useful resource at some point in your career; whether it’s classmates, university staff, colleagues through part-time work, volunteering, student societies or by attending events. There are a range of networking opportunities open to you either in person and online:

Platform One

As a University of Edinburgh student, you can take advantage of the networking opportunities offered by Platform One, the University’s online community of Edinburgh alumni and others. This can be a useful source of contacts, advice and opinion.  Joining Platform One is straightforward – you can view a series of handy “how to” video guides which cover topics such as how to create a profile, sign in, search for someone and send a message:

Platform One

Scottish Young Lawyers' Association (SYLA)

You can stay informed by becoming a member of SYLA – membership is free. The term “young lawyers” refers to LLB students, Diploma students, trainees and qualified lawyers up to 10 years qualified. Events run throughout the year ranging from legal updates, developing professional skills and social events. For more information, visit the SYLA website:

Scottish Young Lawyers' Association

You can also listen to their podcast series, “Conversations with SYLA”:

Scottish Young Lawyers' Association - podcasts

Scottish Ethnic Minorities Lawyers' Association (SEMLA)

SEMLA aim to provide support and create career opportunities for ethnic minority law students in Scotland. SEMLA collaborate with law firms to offer work experience placements. They also run a variety of events ranging from insights into different firms and skills sessions. You can sign up to their mailing list for future event notifications:

Scottish Ethnic Minorities Lawyers' Association

Other skills and competencies – commercial awareness

Stay up-to-date with news in the business, commercial and legal sectors as employers are looking for applicants who can demonstrate commercial awareness. For more information on how to build your commercial awareness, check out our webpage:

Build your commercial awareness

Look at sources such as:

BBC Business News

The Journal of the Law Society of Scotland

The Law Society Gazette - England and Wales

Further information 

Keep looking at MyCareerHub to find opportunities but other useful places to look are:

AllAboutLaw - LawJobsHub

Chambers Student

LawCareers.Net - jobs

Lawyer 2B

Scottish Legal News

View the University of Edinburgh Law School alumni webpages, which includes details of events and vacation scheme opportunities:

Edinburgh Law School - Alumni - career opportunities

You can join the Law Society of Scotland’s Student Associate scheme free of charge, which is open to LLB students and Diploma students. This is a great opportunity to get involved in their outreach initiatives and keep up-to-date with developments in the Scottish legal profession:

Law Society of Scotland - Student associates