Like many other students, my internship was cancelled this year due to COVID-19. Although I was gutted that I couldn’t complete my commercial law internship, I was able to find three alternative virtual internships.
Legal Cheek Internship
The first was completing a virtual vacation scheme with Legal Cheek. Legal Cheek is a legal news website which provides readers with legal career advice – it is described as the UK’s leading news source for aspiring lawyers so I would highly recommend checking them out!
Throughout this internship, I attended talks from legal professionals in different sectors including: employment law, insolvency, commercial law, legal aid and pro bono, debt finance, environmental law and advocacy. For this internship, I completed four case studies which related to how to deal with clients, due diligence tasks, pitching exercises and prioritising your tasks. These provided an insight into the challenges and tasks we could be faced with as a lawyer.
Bright Network Internship
The second was completing a commercial law internship with Bright Network – an organisation which provides university students with opportunities to network with leading industry partners and take part in sector-orientated events.
During this, I completed a project which involved researching and presenting my findings about acquisitions. This was my favourite project as I was able to pitch my findings as if I were talking to a client, something which I could be completing one day. This project involved providing due diligence considerations, amending mistakes in a non-disclosure agreement document and informing the client about different forms of alternative dispute resolution (arbitration). This was a great way to consolidate what I had learnt from the sessions and my own research.
Lastly, I am currently a Legal Intern at LawyerUp – an organisation which provides future lawyers with the opportunity to gain legal experience during the pandemic through hosting webinars with legal recruiters and professionals from a range of sectors including: commercial, arbitration, ‘white collar’ crime, employment and much more!
The internship is organised by an American organisation therefore, the events are scheduled in the evening between 8-10pm due to the time difference. A talk I vividly remember was hosted by an American cannabis lawyer (as cannabis is legal in some states) which is an area of law that we do not particularly practice in the UK however, it was very fascinating to listen to the legalities surrounding this niche, yet significant, area of law.
What I’ve learned
Throughout these internships, I have developed many skills – the most important being my networking skills as I have had the opportunity to connect with likeminded students, legal professionals and recruiters from all around the world. As my LawyerUp internship is in a different time zone, I have developed my time management skills as I have had to plan work around the different time schedules.
A key lesson I have taken from these internships is that, even though law is highly competitive, you will get so much more out of it if you help one another. I think that many law students have the idea that if we tell others about opportunities then this will be detrimental for us. This is not the case – I would not have known about these opportunities if some of my friends and connections on LinkedIn hadn’t posted about them! Now, I am part of many different groups with students worldwide where we post and talk about legal opportunities.
My advice for seeking virtual internships
My advice would be to apply for as many as you can – so long as the internship is in an industry you are interested in! Regardless of whether they are paid or not, virtual internships provide you with so much experience. From my experience, I have gained a lot from listening to different speakers and networking with many people – something I would not of had the chance to do if I did not complete these.
For those looking to secure a virtual internship or work experience, you should reach out to organisations and enquire whether they have any internships or projects available for students. Or, sign up to their mailing list to be notified of any upcoming opportunities. If you show your interest and eagerness to work for that organisation, they might be able to offer you something!
During lockdown, thousands of new start-ups have emerged and many are looking for interns to join their team. There are many roles advertised on LinkedIn for start-up roles relating to policy writing, social media, marketing and much more! And finally, be proactive – check pages such as LinkedIn, Indeed and company websites for information on available internships.
Whilst the internships have been challenging at times, they have also been very rewarding as I have developed my legal knowledge in different sectors as well as finding out more information about the different firms there are. I would highly recommend completing a virtual internship, especially as there are so many available currently in different industries.
-By Chloe Giles (3rd year MLaw student)