Students are being invited to apply from 19 April to take part in LLG’s first legal talent work experience week this summer.
So far 22 local authority legal teams have signed up to the programme, which will take place from 5-9 July 2021.
Students should go to www.lawyersinlocalgovernment.org.uk for more information or follow LLG on Twitter at @LLGLegal.
Deborah Evans, chief executive officer of LLG, said: “Lockdown placed inevitable pressure on lawyers within local government. With new Covid laws, policy and process seemingly being drafted every hour, lawyers battled with increasingly challenging workloads coupled with the advent of entirely remote decision making. Crisis management kicked in, and with the medium and long-term picture increasingly unclear, the casualties were the law graduates of 2020 as work experience opportunities vanished and trainee recruitment went on hold.
“Fast forward to 2021, where ongoing uncertainty as to when and how we will return to the workplace leads to hesitancy in offering work placements and traineeships. For the law graduates of 2021, the landscape still remains bleak.”
Evans added: “At LLG we recognise that our future reality will always be different from our past. We see little sense in continuing to put futures on hold until things return to ‘normal’. As well as lost opportunities for graduates, there will inevitably be a gap in the number of newly qualified lawyers within local authorities in a couple of years if the pipeline is turned off. We want to kickstart graduate opportunities in our legal departments. What better time could there be to launch a national Work Experience Week?”
She suggested that in the past, the local authority legal sector had kept its light "firmly under its bushel", and as such few graduates appreciated the size and scope of the opportunities available. “Raising the visibility of lawyers in local government has been a key strategic objective of LLG, with a goal of attracting the best graduates thus ensuring the sustainability of the profession.”
Evans continued: “We aim to conquer the fears around remote engagement and supervision of students, giving clear advice as to how to give context for a task, set expectations and timescales, and then put aside time for discussion and feedback. We know that as well as shadowing, students seek real work where they feel they have made a difference, so we will give hints and tips as to how to make that happen.
“Work placements help students overcome that difficult first step of getting meaningful experience to put on a CV or application, and enables them to perform better at interview because they understand what a local authority and it’s lawyers actually do. It gives local authorities an early sight of potential candidates for traineeships of the future. It can be a tool for developing supervision and management skills in younger staff members. Importantly, those students will see how varied and engaging the role is and want to join us. Thus, the pipeline keeps flowing.”
Evans said LLG did not underestimate the importance of ensuring that the scheme is inclusive, to ensure it has a diverse and vibrant mix, both of students and role model lawyers. “Our commitment to equality and diversity runs deep, and we will measure each step of the selection process to ensure it is inclusive.”
As part of the week, every student will be given personal feedback, the opportunity for discussion and networking, skills training, and will leave with a reference.
Under the scheme LLG will ask local authorities to look after the students each morning, whilst in the afternoon LLG takes over with a varied programme of webinars from specialist lawyers, workshops on real life legal issues, and roundtables to provide opportunity for debate, along with skill training on application writing, interview technique, and making good first impressions. “Obviously, there will be socials and networking thrown in to create a buzz,” Evans said.
She added: “We aim to put work experience back on track for our lawyers of the future, not just this year, but every year. Next year, we are hopeful of taking things one step further to launch a national graduate recruitment scheme for lawyers in local government.
“With legal departments often overworked and under resourced, we need to have a long-term vision of sustainability. It’s the least we can do.”