Meet Vanessa: Pre-university, PRIME and the importance of work experience
I was really surprised to have been approached by Ben to share my law story considering I haven't even had my first law lecture at university. However, I thought this would be a really good opportunity to highlight the importance of getting involved in the legal industry as soon as you can to anyone that is considering legal careers.
Growing up, whenever I was asked what I wanted to do when I was older, I automatically said "a lawyer". I always thought the idea of being a lawyer would be fun, but I didn't properly consider what this career would entail, therefore when someone asked why I wanted to be a lawyer I didn't have a genuine answer.
My ethnic background allowed me to become socially aware of the challenges and social injustices in our modern-day society. Later in my high school career I started realising how the law is intertwined in everything society has to give which really intrigued me. This made me extremely eager to get a taste of the legal world and I started to hunt for work experience.
Getting work experience was the best thing that happened to me as I learned a lot about office culture and what daily life in a law firm is like. I recommend getting work experience as early as possible because something I was constantly told by the solicitors I spoke to is that studying law and practicing it are two very different things. Having the experience to go into an office whether it is a high street firm, an international firm or law centres gives you the ability to determine whether this is where you want to be in 5 years. For me, it was exactly what I wanted to do. Even if some of the firms didn't practice the type of work I wanted to get into in the future, it allowed me to get a small taste. And if it's not for you, then that's still okay, at least you know now rather than when you have a permanent 9 to 5 job.
Nonetheless it can be difficult to find work experience opportunities but if you persist, keep researching for placements, putting your mind to the applications, and asking for a chance, you will see results. Never feel that you aren't worthy or able. If you are willing to put the work in, to keep an open mind, no matter what ethnic background or socio-economic status you find yourself struggling with, there are always doors open for you. You just have to look for them and appreciate and make the most of every chance you get – even the smallest ones.
My door was PRIME. The PRIME Commitment programme was one of the main reasons I now have a deeper insight into the world of commercial law. Willing to give young students a foot into legal door, PRIME makes legal work experience accessible to high school students. It is helps demystify legal careers to all students of any culture or social group.
Search up what work experience opportunities might be available when society begins to revert to some sort of norm or even find virtual work experience on platforms like InsideSherpa. Even in this time of uncertainty, you can start paving your way to your future career and remember, it is never too early.
Instagram - @legallystressing
LinkedIn – Vanessa Liu