Julie Smith, Practical Law, Tax Paralegal and Student Ambassador Mentor
Before joining Practical Law as a Paralegal in the Tax Editorial team, I studied both the GDL and the LPC at the University of Law Bloomsbury, so I was somewhat familiar with Practical Law.
In hindsight I wish that I had made more use of it. Like the majority of law students, most of my research projects centred on locating and analysing primary sources. Practical Law, as a know-how provider, has in many respects a lot more to offer students, particularly those studying the LPC. The site itself is very easy to navigate and you can refine your search by service, for example, Property, Employment or Tax.
The materials are in-depth but practically focused. There are lots of useful checklists and standard documents that can assist you with any drafting work on your LPC and useful overview notes for any trickier elective choices.
I wish in particular that I had known more about Practical Law when attending training contract interviews. Law firms are constantly talking about the importance of “commercial awareness” and the Practical Law website, to my mind, is the best place to start. For more on this, see Same same, but different.
Most services will produce a weekly “news-round-up”, which is a succinct synopsis of the main news stories relating to that particular area of law from the week (no more than two minutes of reading time for those short of time) and you can search for previous weeks as well as the most recent. It also allows you to read about some of the main recent cases and developments in particular areas of law, which again would give you some talking points in an interview (particularly useful if you are attending an interview with a firm specialising in areas in which you are unfamiliar).
Some of Practical Law’s notes are written by contributors, who tend to be solicitors in some of the larger city firms. It certainly can’t do any harm to read a note written by a partner or associate who may be interviewing you on a recent legal development prior to attending an interview with them!
Mentioning this in an interview could demonstrate a discernable interest in an area in which you could later practice, as well as demonstrate your comprehension and analytical skills depending on how well you are able to talk about it.