by Alissa Schutten, LLB International Law Student (second-year)
As part of the CLS guest speaker series, I attended the Government Legal Department Guest Speaker Event on the 3rd February 2021. Dr. Adrian Yeo spoke to us and provided us with careers advice on what makes a good application, and on the various ways to join the Government Legal Department, including the GLD Trainees Scheme.
The Government Legal Department lawyers are the government’s principal legal advisers. They provide legal advice on the development, design and implementation of government policies and decisions, and represent the government in court. From roads and rivers to health and human rights, their work touches on most aspects of public life. They provide legal advice to government departments on matters that are frequently scrutinised in Parliament and the media. Their clients range from departments such as the Home Office, the Department for International Trade to the Department for Health and the Ministry of Defence, to name just a few.
Adrian told us about the many routes into the Civil Service, including the Civil Service Fast Stream and Diversity Internships. There are also apprenticeships and graduate programmes offered by departments as well as direct entry opportunities. One of these programmes is the Government Legal Department’s Legal Trainee Scheme. Generally speaking, you’ll spend time in 4 main areas of practice (known as ‘seats’). Each seat lasts 6 months. As a legal trainee, you can expect to have two advisory seats and two litigation seats. This really excited me to hear, as I would like to experience a variety of different challenges in the future. The flexibility and focus on personal growth that the GDL offers really speaks to me. After successful completion of your training period departments hope to be able to offer a qualified lawyer position (subject to probation).
Another opportunity to consider is the Diversity Summer Scheme. This is a 1-week summer vacation placement which normally takes place during the first week of July. The scheme is for undergraduates or graduates from diverse backgrounds which are currently under-represented across the legal profession. The Diversity Summer Scheme is provided in partnership with the following providers: Aspiring Solicitors, Law Society Diversity Access Scheme, National Mentoring Consortium – Brunel University and the Social Mobility Foundation. If this scheme is something you might be interested in, you will need to consider joining one of these organisations as places are allocated through them.
Adrian also answered some of our burning questions, such as what a lawyer earns working for the Government Legal Department. He explained that the Government Legal Department has a big focus on inclusion and diversity and they welcome all who aspire to work as a civil servant. This was of particular interest to me, as one of the things that I have really enjoyed at Coventry University so far is the diversity of thought. He also mentioned that the GDL are family oriented and that there is a good work to life balance, which is something that suits me personally as well.
I would highly recommend researching the Government Legal Department as they provide a great career opportunity for those who do not wish to work for a City Law firm or an in-house legal department. This event really helped me when considering my own career path. I went on to research other civil service job opportunities and am now highly considering applying for the Legal Trainee scheme. I realised that I really want to focus on a public-facing career where I can help other people. I would really encourage other students to attend as many speaking events and experiences as possible. Even if you already know whether you want to practice as a solicitor, barrister or if you want to pursue an alternative legal career. The information you pick up can be helpful and might even strengthen your resolve to work in a particular legal department. The Government Legal Department may be a great path for those who are keen to work for the public and wish to tackle a variety of legal challenges.
Guest speaker events are offered as part of Coventry Law School’s unique continuing professional development programme which aims to help you on the road to positive graduate destinations! Interested in studying law with us? Our Law LLB course offers you the opportunity to gain practical legal skills, develop your global experience, and get career ready, with expert staff and employment support. Current student? You can find out more about placement opportunities by speaking to the Talent Team.