Legal work experience and voluntary experience

TCinpipeline

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Oct 31, 2021
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Hi - I have been interviewing clients on their legal queries and drafting legal advice for pro bono legal advice clinic for over a year. Do I need to continue doing this to showcase dealing with clients and providing legal advice in my applications until I get a training contract (whenever that may be)? Although some legal queries are somewhat different, I’m getting to a stage I am not learning anything new. We are informed it’s important to get legal work experience but as it’s hard to get eg on vacation schemes will I stand out in getting a training contract if I continue doing it long term? One can view it that I should be able to stop doing it and be able to still showcase it 6 months/a year down the line due to the length of time I’ve done it for like any job experience. Or should I now be considering finding different legal work experience to add to my CV/applications?
The confusion I have is the same for other elements of showcasing experience such as being a school governor which I did about 5 years ago. Surely it cancels out a lot of hard work of undergoing different voluntary experience I have gained over the years such as this and working for RSPCA if I can’t mention it just because it is not “recent”. I have heard this mentioned from recruiters that you don’t need to mention that job as it’s years ago. Why can my interest not lie still in working for a law firm that does very well in acting for schools and other institutions in its practice area due to the school governor experience I undertook? I am obviously not going to apply to do another school governor seat just to show my interest in this practice area when applying. So can I still show this in an application without it being discounted from not being recent? I do not think all experience should be recent otherwise they are preventing candidates especially mature ones like myself from presenting themselves as being well rounded and having “life experience.
 
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George Maxwell

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Hi - I have been interviewing clients on their legal queries and drafting legal advice for pro bono legal advice clinic for over a year. Do I need to continue doing this to showcase dealing with clients and providing legal advice in my applications until I get a training contract (whenever that may be)? Although some legal queries are somewhat different, I’m getting to a stage I am not learning anything new. We are informed it’s important to get legal work experience but as it’s hard to get eg on vacation schemes will I stand out in getting a training contract if I continue doing it long term? One can view it that I should be able to stop doing it and be able to still showcase it 6 months/a year down the line due to the length of time I’ve done it for like any job experience. Or should I now be considering finding different legal work experience to add to my CV/applications?
The confusion I have is the same for other elements of showcasing experience such as being a school governor which I did about 5 years ago. Surely it cancels out a lot of hard work of undergoing different voluntary experience I have gained over the years such as this and working for RSPCA if I can’t mention it just because it is not “recent”. I have heard this mentioned from recruiters that you don’t need to mention that job as it’s years ago. Why can my interest not lie still in working for a law firm that does very well in acting for schools and other institutions in its practice area due to the school governor experience I undertook? I am obviously not going to apply to do another school governor seat just to show my interest in this practice area when applying. So can I still show this in an application without it being discounted from not being recent? I do not think all experience should be recent otherwise they are preventing candidates especially mature ones like myself from presenting themselves as being well rounded and having “life experience.
Hi @TCinpipeline!

I just want to make sure that I have understood your question correctly before answering.

I think that you are asking about whether or not you should mention a piece of work experience which was not "recent" on an application (5ish years ago)? In addition to this, you appear to be unclear about what "recent" work experience means, and why there is an emphasis from firms on providing only "recent' experiences?

Very best wishes,
George.
 

George Maxwell

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Hi George - yes that’s correct.
Hi @TCinpipeline,

Thank you for confirming.

Just tagging @Jessica Booker as I think she will have a more informed idea of what and what not to do.

However, I am happy to provide my thoughts too.

I am basing the following on my understanding that recruiters ask for work experience to gain information about a candidate (at the time that they are applying) and the skills that they can bring to a role. I also think that people change less over time as an adult than as young person/student.

In light of this, I think for mature applicants, such as yourself, it would be appropriate to provide work experience from 5+ years ago. Students providing the equivalent would be speaking about work completed when they were early/mid teens (if not before). They are likely to have changed significantly since. This is less useful from a recruitment perspective than more recent work experience (I think) because work performed as a child or early teenager is not necessarily informative about who the person in question is now. This does not apply in the same way to work done as an adult. Obviously this is a general rule and does not apply to everyone! But, generally speaking, I think that this is the case.

I hope this reasoning is clear.

As I said, this might be wrong and the emphasis on providing recent work experience might be for entirely different reasons. Speaking as someone in their mid-20s, I know that I am a very different person to I was 5+ years ago (in a way that you may not be!).

I hope that helps! As I said, Jessica might disagree though!
 

Jessica Booker

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Aug 1, 2019
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Hi - I have been interviewing clients on their legal queries and drafting legal advice for pro bono legal advice clinic for over a year. Do I need to continue doing this to showcase dealing with clients and providing legal advice in my applications until I get a training contract (whenever that may be)? Although some legal queries are somewhat different, I’m getting to a stage I am not learning anything new. We are informed it’s important to get legal work experience but as it’s hard to get eg on vacation schemes will I stand out in getting a training contract if I continue doing it long term? One can view it that I should be able to stop doing it and be able to still showcase it 6 months/a year down the line due to the length of time I’ve done it for like any job experience. Or should I now be considering finding different legal work experience to add to my CV/applications?
The confusion I have is the same for other elements of showcasing experience such as being a school governor which I did about 5 years ago. Surely it cancels out a lot of hard work of undergoing different voluntary experience I have gained over the years such as this and working for RSPCA if I can’t mention it just because it is not “recent”. I have heard this mentioned from recruiters that you don’t need to mention that job as it’s years ago. Why can my interest not lie still in working for a law firm that does very well in acting for schools and other institutions in its practice area due to the school governor experience I undertook? I am obviously not going to apply to do another school governor seat just to show my interest in this practice area when applying. So can I still show this in an application without it being discounted from not being recent? I do not think all experience should be recent otherwise they are preventing candidates especially mature ones like myself from presenting themselves as being well rounded and having “life experience.
You don’t need to continue to do anything - you can pull on past experiences. Not everything needs to be in the present or recent.

If you feel you have other skills sets to develop, then moving on could help. It isn’t really about the jobs you do or the responsibilities you have, more the transferable skills - you are going for an entry level role after all.

You could mention the school governor responsbilities too. You don’t have to ties your responsibilities like this to the career though (unless you want to).
 

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