SHU Law Connect Employability Academy
The opportunity of work experience would not have likely been offered to me without the help of the SHU Law Connect Employability Academy ran by Mark Johnson, lecturer at SHU and the team at SHU Law. The event is mainly organised by Mark Johnson, with the help of SHU Law staff. This is a two-day event, where external legal professionals come in and talk to you about what kind of skills they are looking for in potential candidates. Whilst it may seem nerve-racking, it is a great two-days of knowledge building and improving your employability skills. They also provide you with the opportunity to do a mock interview, where the preferred candidate will be offered work experience (length of time is at the discretion of the company).
As well as the external legal professionals, we also received advice on how to build your CV, how to make yourself stand out to other candidates and completed assessment day and negotiation exercises. As someone who has done the Academy twice, I would highly recommend that any aspiring legal professional takes the opportunity. It has provided me with so many skills and opportunities that I wouldn’t have had beforehand. If the opportunity is offered to you, take it!
After the two-day SHU Law Connect Employability Academy, I successfully obtained a week’s work experience at Dawson Radford Solicitors, an employment and commercial law firm. Whilst this isn’t my particular area of interest, it is best to keep an open mind; any experience in a law firm setting is good experience and should always be accepted and completed to the best of your ability. Enthusiasm in any area of law is the best way to remain; you might be surprised at what you enjoy!
Often, previous law students and lecturers speak of work experience and the value of it. However, unless you have had a placement yourself, you may be unsure what to expect. With that in mind, I kept a record of the work undertaken to demonstrate the types of work that are done in a placement setting.
I attended two client meetings regarding settlement agreements (when an employer pays for an employee to leave). Even though I had never studied employment law, the skills obtained through my degree meant I was able to effectively research and find answers to some questions, including checking the validity of the agreements. I also created a Diversity and Inclusion Monitoring Form as well as a New Starter Employee Form to assist the client (employers) in creating new and effective ways in finding out about any adjustments and assistance they may have to put in place for their employees. Being in client-facing meetings and doing work that clients would receive provided a great insight into how meetings operate and the standard of work that clients expect. It also taught me to complete tasks to a timescale to keep the client happy.
I learnt how to complete stock transfer forms, how to write a directors letter of resignation, how to make filings on companies house and how to allocate and transfer shares in a business. This gave me a wider understanding of commercial awareness; there is so much that goes into the purchase and sale of a business with regards to the solicitors. I also sat in on some meetings with a client and other solicitors regarding the sale and purchase of care homes. The properties are nearly due for completion, so it was interesting to see how the process had unfolded thus far and what was left to do. It was also interesting to see the job of the other sides solicitor and how they operated.
I spent some time with accounts looking at how the money flows in and out and how it operates. This, whilst not directly influential to me, did help with my understanding of how the business operated as a whole. It also helped me understand all the different processes of how money is handled in a business, and all the legal technology that can be used to assist in this, such as databases and accounts systems.
I spent a day of my work experience completing a social media project for the company. The company is wanting to create a feminist campaign for women in law, which is something I find really important and was ecstatic to be a part of. I spent some time looking for images which fit with the image they are wanting to portray that they could use for their social media, I also created new folders and a spreadsheet saying where to find all the posts.
To conclude, the skills acquired through the SHU Law Connect Employability Academy and work experience are invaluable skills that will stay with you throughout your career, whether that is in the legal field or elsewhere. It is an opportunity that is handed to you, so it is always worth taking it.
By Lydia Johnson – Level 6 Law Student at Sheffield Hallam University