Experience is Everything

On my very first law tutorial, back when I was a bright eyed, bushy tailed and super eager first year, my fellow students and I straight away badgered our tutor with questions about the Law program and our future employment prospects in a overly saturated industry. One student asked what kind of GPA they would need to be considered for a graduate position in a large law firm. Even if it was our very first tutorial for a 4-6 year degree, we’re law students, we don’t believe there is such a thing as being over prepared. Our tutor told us that ‘yes, to be considered by a reputable law firm you need good grades – that will get you an interview. But it is being able to demonstrate practical experience and legal skills that will get you the job.’

Through a QUT Law Degree the Most Important Learning Won't be Learnt in Books .... However There Certainly Are ALOT of Books

Through a QUT Law Degree the Most Important Learning Won’t be Learnt in Books …. However There Certainly Are A LOT of Books

As a ‘university for the real world’  the QUT law program works off this model, that to succeed in the real industry you need to be equipped with real practical skills such as legal research, cultural communication, advocacy and professional writing. Much of this is already integrated into the degree, but QUT strongly encourages students to also take advantage of further opportunities for personal/professional development to boost a degree qualification.

  1. Placement Opportunities. As part of the QUT law degree, students are afforded the opportunity to participate in work integrated learning as an elective subject. Through this elective, students undertake practical legal work through placement with an industry partner (community organisations, large legal practices, government bodies or even overseas organisations and businesses) whilst also receiving course credit. Placement is a great opportunity to cut your teeth in the area of law of your career dreams, develop real world practical skills and make meaningful networking connections with the giants of the legal industry. If you are craving experience but can’t afford to take much time away from your studies, this is a good option for you. You can find out more here.
  2. Volunteer. Many non-for-profit organisations and community legal centers rely on the time and support of community and student volunteers. Caxton Legal Centre, Womens Legal Services (QLD), LGBTI Legal Service and Environmental Defenders Office to name just a few. Through volunteering for one of these groups you have the opportunity to develop essential professional skills such as communicating with clients, skills in cultural and social competency and vital administration skills. The QUT Law Society often provides notifications for when these opportunities become available, but you can do your own research by following these organisations on social media and keeping an eye out on their websites. If you are passionate about social justice issues and want to help out in a meaningful way and have a few hours to spare a week, this is a great option for you.
  3.  Part Time Work. Having money for too much coffee is a good thing. It’s an even better thing when you can earn that money by doing meaningful work and developing inside knowledge and practical skills relevant to legal practice. QUT’s Career Hub provides job ads aimed at QUT students who want to combine work experience with casual/part time work. It was through Career Hub that I found my first paid legal job as a Summer Vacation Clerk. If you manage your time/study schedule and want to get real work exposure to legal practice (the good and the bad), then this is your calling friend.

Particularly for students fresh from high school, doing a law degree is like going from being the big fish in a small pond (getting straight A’s and knowing that this will get you your first uni preference)- to being a fish in an ocean of sharks (getting straight 6’s and 7’s but so do 200 other students graduating that year). It will be your real world (work/volunteer) experience that will help you stand out from the crowd.

Picture of a Wild Laura Looking Fearful in the Law Library Wilderness

Picture of a Wild Laura Looking Fearful but Ready in the Law Library Wilderness

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    Catherine Garino

    Fantastic post Laura! Yes, work experience is so valuable for so many reasons. The QUT Careers and Employment team can also assist students when preparing their resumes and cover letters to apply for work experience – details at http://www.careers.qut.edu.au

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