Most law students are encouraged to do placements during their studies. While getting academic qualifications is essential in gaining a career in law, you also need practical, hands on experience. Many law firms offer placements for students and graduates, but they tend to be competitive. So, if you’ve managed to get a placement you’ve done well.
However, you might be feeling a little worried about your first law placement. Here are 5 things to know before you get there.
The area of law
First things first, you probably know that there are plenty of different areas in the legal sector. What does this law firm practice in? It’s key to know this and do a little research before you start your placement. Brush up on the type of law they deal with and make sure you feel confident in your knowledge. Don’t forget that different states have different laws too, so if you don’t know about the laws in Texas with regard to drug testing, for example, then you’ll need to do your research.
Who will you be working with? Chances are there’ll be some important figures in your new office. Make sure you learn their names and faces in advance. Don’t forget that this placement could open doors for you, so you’ll need to be on your best behavior. You don’t want to accidentally offend one of the partners.
The dress code
Most law firms have smart dress codes. This means nothing too casual or revealing like denim, spaghetti straps or flip flops. You should also avoid excessive jewelry and slogans. Generally, your best bet is smart shoes like brogues or loafers, professional trousers and a shirt or blouse. Don’t forget to iron everything beforehand and make sure the clothes fit right. You won’t impress in a shirt that swamps you.
Most lawyers work long hours, which might mean that you might, too. You’ll probably be told your hours, but expected to stay late on certain occasions. While you might have dinner plans or feel tired after the long day but you’ll impress your colleagues if you’re willing to be a little flexible. Just make sure that you’re staying late because you want to help – not because you’re running behind.
You might be worried about what’s expected of your during your placement. Will the work be too difficult? Will you make a fool out of yourself by doing something wrong? Generally, you’ll be doing the basics. This will mean administration duties and making tea and coffee. If you play your cards right, you might be able to gradually take on some more responsibilities. Go in with the expectation to work hard and win them over.