The Law Reform Commission (LRC) has launched an annual internship, aimed at promoting wider access to entering the legal professions.
Senior researcher Leanne Caulfield devised the scheme as a practical step to help promote more opportunities for access.
She said: “It can be difficult for candidates from lower socio-economic backgrounds, and candidates with disabilities, to gain the practical experience required to establish themselves on career paths in law.
“They lack connections, they lack confidence, and they lack social and cultural capital. Their disadvantage is often compounded by financial strains and the fact that, for many students, there is no family history of participation in higher education.”
Paid, accessible work-experience opportunities are, therefore, particularly important for these candidates, she said.
Interns will gain practical experience, undertaking focused legal-research work as part of a project team, with one-to-one mentoring from the LRC’s legal researchers.
The internship will provide experience of working in a legal environment, and the opportunity to gain knowledge regarding the various career paths open to law graduates, including careers in the public sector.
2021 pilot-scheme success
A 2021 pilot was a resounding success, and the LRC has now decided to run the internship on an annual basis.
Inaugural access intern James Donohoe has now been offered a judicial assistant position at the Courts Service.
He said: “I do not think that I could have asked for a better internship. I was encouraged to carry out the type of work that I have never had the opportunity to do, and the level of detailed feedback I received has benefitted me immensely. It will stand to me for the rest of my career.
“The access internship has encouraged me to apply for jobs that I would never have considered before, and helped to shape my career objectives.”
The scheme can help graduates who are struggling to begin a career in law, but may just need an extra bit of support, he added.
The LRC hopes that other public-sector bodies will follow its example, and is happy to assist any organisation that wants to replicate the model.
How to apply
The scheme is open to current final-year students in law who:
Come from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds or have disabilities, and
Have accessed a higher-education institution through an Access programme or Access route, or
Are registered with, and in support of services from, a disability support service in a higher-education institution in Ireland.
The application form and details on how to apply are available on the LRC’s website at www.lawreform.ie.
The closing date for applications is 31 May 2022.