As part of their training, law students are required to bulk out their CVs with short-term vac work at law firms. But finding short-term slots is not easy, as a faculty student focus group in 2011 showed.
Law firms, like most enterprises, are looking after the bottom line and their focus tends to be on recruiting top students to fill the limited space available to candidate attorneys.
But faculty dean Professor PJ Schwikkard has taken up the need for vacation work for students in her meetings with law companies. In March 2012, and again this year, several law firms responded by offering UCT law student a four-day vac work experience.
"We were able to place all the penultimate year students who had not yet worked in a firm, and even a couple of final-year students," reported Schwikkard.
"I'm so grateful to the firms concerned - small, medium and large - mostly in Cape Town but a couple in Gauteng too, as even a mini programme like this is a big investment in time and effort."
The vacation works programme differed from company to company; some were structured and included visits to the Magistrate's Court, the High Court, and the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA). Some ran a Moot competition or coached students for interviews; others assigned a student to a candidate attorney for a day and some organised a series of introductions to their various departments.
"Whatever the structure, the outcome was the same: our law students had the opportunity to experience something of the life that awaits them after UCT," said the faculty's development and marketing manager, Pauline Alexander.
One respondent learnt the importance of process in case work.
"Completing a case is so different from what I had thought, and quite long!"
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Please view the republishing articles page for more information.