LLB (Hons) Law students, Hafsah Abdul Hardi, Kamila Marusarz and Louise Clavey share their views of working at Capital Law, Cardiff for their work experience. They were assigned two individual weeks’ work placement as part of the second-year module, Learning through the Workplace. Each week gave them the chance to explore what it’s like to work within different areas of law.
“Capital Law are a leading provider of commercial legal services, both in the UK and internationally. My work experience in their Cardiff office gave me the opportunity to find out how a successful law firm operates. I’ve had a taste of what it’s like to work in two different areas of law – employment and intellectual property.
In the intellectual property team, my main task was to undertake research into a case, where someone had left their property to somebody in their will, even though they co-habit with someone who has an equal right to half the property. The research skills I developed on the course really helped me to deliver what was expected of me for this task.
In the employment team, I’ve been fortunate to be able to look at files for active cases, highlighting and referencing important information in readiness for one of the solicitors. The task has given me access to documents I wouldn’t have seen previously. I’ve also gained an insight into how a case is built. This work has opened my eyes to the scale of criminal activities going on in organisations. You don’t need to specialise in criminal law to be exposed to illegal goings-on.
Before starting the placement, I was really nervous and didn’t know what to expect. My experience at Capital Law is that everyone knows you are there to learn and they are more than willing to support you throughout the process. I’ve worked alongside solicitors and can confirm the workplace is far from the ruthless scenes you watch on TV. I’ve learnt so much about the profession; staff have even given me an insight into the areas where employment prospects are greater. Everyone from the secretaries to the solicitors and partners was so kind. They made me feel very welcome and have gone above and beyond to make my experience there the best it can be.”
“How I view the role of a solicitor has changed following work experience. Capital Law has given me an awareness of the different pieces that need to come together when compiling a case. I‘ve gained an appreciation of the detail that goes into the work. Even completing a simple form can take a huge amount of time and effort.
The night before my work experience was about to start, I felt nervous. I was worried about the type of work I would be given. It would be my first glimpse of what solicitors actually do in practice. Would I be given enough work to keep me busy? I didn’t want to constantly be asking for new tasks, knowing how busy solicitors are. I think it was the fear of the unknown that made me feel so anxious. Arriving at Capital Law, I was put at ease straight away. I had no idea beforehand how welcoming people were going to be. Following the first week, I had zero reservations about going back.
Working for the commercial property team, I created a checklist on exercising break clauses that people need to be aware of. In the employment department, I reviewed a presentation prepared by one of the solicitors, drafted an employment contract and undertook research. I also produced a due diligence report. This was challenging as I had no idea how much there was to consider before the final report. This task was really useful. The feedback I received highlighted all the things I should have included.
I’m grateful to Capital Law and the University for making this experience happen. It wouldn’t have been possible without the strong links between the two organisations. The networking opportunities have been incredible. If I have any questions during my studies, I know there are contacts at Capital Law who would be more than willing to help. I have thoroughly enjoyed the experience and I can’t put into words how much I have grown as a result. I have been fortunate that Capital Law have offered to take me back if I feel that I would like to gain further experience in the other departments.”
“The main benefit of doing a work placement is that you have the opportunity to gain an insight into the different areas of law. I worked in the corporate team and commercial disputes team at Capital Law. In the corporate commercial team, I drafted an article in relation to artificial intelligence and an infringement of copyright. Also, as I’m Polish, can speak English fluently and have German language skills, I was asked to help undertake research into civil law. I put my German skills to use by working on a case involving a German citizen claiming benefits from the United Kingdom after being in the country for a relatively short period. For the disputes department, I spend most of my time researching for arguments which could be put forward in the dispute at a later date.
I learnt a great deal from the soft skills workshop held by Capital Law at the beginning of the second week. The idea was for us to develop seven key skills needed to be successful in the law profession. These were: communication and social skills, using initiative, collaboration and how this leads to co-operation, diplomacy, critical thinking, written skills and persistence. At the end of the week, I had to demonstrate how I implemented these skills in my work. With communication, for example, I recognised that it’s just as important to listen as it is to talk with clients when building a relationship. By developing these skills at Capital Law I’m now able to provide examples during interviews going forward.
The work experience I have undertaken has taught me that it’s important to ask lots of questions as it’s the best way of avoiding mistakes. Also, you can work more efficiently when you know exactly what it is you’re doing. Capital Law places emphasis on working as a team, and it really is the best way of achieving success. In particular, I have found a passion for disputes and I’m now planning to choose it as one of my option modules going into the third year. Unexpectedly, my work experience has helped to shape my studies and the law degree I graduate with.”
HR Director at Capital Law, Paul Clayton adds "Partnering with USW and other universities has provided benefits for all involved. There are more prospective trainee lawyers than there are jobs in the legal market – providing vocational experience to students in the local community will improve their ability to secure employment beyond studies.
Universities play a vital role in legal education; as an employer, we’re proud to play a vital role in acclimatising students for the environment of work."