VIRTUAL LEGAL & COMMERCIAL INTERNSHIPS:
There is good information about virtual internships on https://www.prospects.ac.uk/jobs-and-work-experience/work-experience-and-internships/virtual-work-experience
It is important to make a distinction between ‘real’ and simulated’ experiences:
‘Real’ virtual internships
These are real internships for which you have to apply and be selected. As a result of the pandemic many of the in-person internships/work experience opportunities (including law firm Vacation Schemes) went on-line. For these opportunities you will need to apply in the usual way with observance to the usual deadlines; you are likely to be paid; you will undertake real work and be treated as part of the team. Experiences of this nature will be seen as equal to in-person experiences. These real internships should be listed on your CV in the ‘work history/work experience’ section and treated in exactly the same way as any other work /work experience you have done.
Simulated virtual internships
These types of ‘internships’ have been gaining popularity in the past few years but as a response to the lack of opportunity that the pandemic brought in 2020 many organisations have developed simulated internships. There is also growing evidence a learning experience such as this helps to “preskill” you i.e. you gain knowledge of an develop the skills you will need for a job in a particular industry or with a specific firm. This ‘preskilling’ leads to your increased confidence that this is the right job area for you and you’ll feel more empowered and ready for the workplace. In return, employers are finding that the ‘preskilled’ new employees/trainees are being more successful when in the workplace.
The FAQ’s below will give you more information.
Two excellent platform for virtual ‘internships’* (VI’s) are:
- The Forage – https://www.theforage.com/ where you will find over 90 VIs from Fortune 500 companies – many are offered by law firms
- Project Set – https://projectset.com/
Legal Cheek’s Virtual Internship
This internship takes place in December but I’ve left the details here because it is very possible that they will repeat it at another time of the year. The internship features a series of short talks, workshops and Q&As with lawyers from leading firms, corresponding written exercises set by ULaw, as well as an employability expo and various socials. The Scheme is open to all students. Its aim is to help students gain insights into life as a lawyer across a range of practice areas. The Scheme is not part of the participating firms’ recruitment processes.
FAQ’s about simulated VI’s
- How long does a VI take? The VI’s take between 5- 8 hours to complete
- What does a VI involve? The legal VI’s will focus on one practice area and simulate a typical matter and take you through it step by step. You will have to complete tasks along the way i.e. drafting a legal document, making a telephone call, writing a case note – each one differs
- Can I do a non-legal VI? Yes, and, this might be beneficial i.e. if you want to be a financial services lawyer why not do a banking VI / if you are interested in cybercrime/legal tech then seek out a VI in this area. The Forage are adding new topics all the time and broadening what is available.
- Why have you called them ‘simulated’ VI’s? Because, it is not real live work experience – it is an on-line simulation. The firms offering the VIs have made them as realistic as they can but they do remain simulations. It is very valuable to do a VI but it is not a complete substitute for work experience and you should no rely on them as your sole entry under work experience on your CV (see next point).
- Can I put a VI on my CV? Given the on-line world we now live in and the lack of work experience over the past 12 months my advice is that you should do at least one VI. However, please be aware that recruiters are now seeing multiple VIs on candidates applications and CVs – some with lengthy explanations about their content. This is not necessary – the recruiters know what VI’s involve and where to look up the details. Don’t use up more than a couple of lines to describe your experience and, if you have taken more than 2 VIs, I advise that you make just one entry on the CV where you ‘group’ your VI’s i.e. say that you have undertaken a number of VI’s in x/y practice areas and what you have gained from it.
Where on my CV should I put the VI? Employers are starting to report that they don’t want to see simulated VIs in the “Work History/Work Experience” section of your CV unless there was a competitive application process you when through in order to get selected to take part. In this case, say a little about the process and, if you know, the number of applicants and the number of participants. For VIs where you simply log onto a platform such as The Forage and immediately access the course/module I suggest you list this on your CV under other headings i.e. Professional/Skills Development / Activities / Extra-curricular Activities etc.
- Is this type of virtual internship as good as a real one? I don’t think anyone can claim this but they are still great learning experiences and any aspiring lawyer ought to consider doing one. Many of the subjects of the VIs are not things you would come across in work experience (usually because the time frame or the confidentiality/data protection would not allow for it) so it is a great opportunity to gain a good solid insight.
Rate My Placement guide to VI’s – https://www.ratemyplacement.co.uk/virtual-internships