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16 April 2021

Publish date: 16/04/2021

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.

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?

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. 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….

Our commitment to equality and diversity runs deep, and we will measure each step of the selection process to ensure it is inclusive.

Understanding the need to manage the pressure on legal departments, we aim to provide balance. LLG is undertaking the recruitment and selection of students, and carrying some of the load during the week. We 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.

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.

Deborah Evans



LLG legal talent work experience week takes place on the 5th – 9th July. Applications are invited from students from the19th April. Please contact legaltalent@llg.org.uk