06 June 2023

Volunteering at Legal Services Agency: Holly McGraw

Gaining practical experience as a volunteer is something I would recommend anyone to get involved in. It is especially beneficial for students who may be undertaking employment law as a module during their studies.

I gained an interest in employment law when I began studying it at university and it is helpful to be gaining practical experience rather than just learning academically.

I think the volunteer experience is useful as it can help develop aspects of learning such as communication and literacy skills. I’ve been grateful to be able to shadow real calls with clients which involve learning about the communication and literacy skills required to assist and advise a client. The shadowing I’ve undertaken has helped me understand that producing clear, concise language is essential when communicating with a client over a call or in writing. I think this also establishes a stronger client relationship.

The experience as a volunteer has also helped me understand the importance of LSA’s Employment Law Project due to the lack of legal advice and representation available to those with unmet legal need. I find this something very rewarding to be involved in as the project strives to support those with an unmet legal need, for example, those who may earn a low income or those who have a disability.

I’ve had other opportunities as a volunteer which I’ve found useful, such as reading through a settlement agreement and an agreement in respect of an actual claim to the Employment Tribunal. This is interesting because this is something that a student may not have the opportunity to revise through academic studies. I’ve learned that this agreement sets out a settlement between the parties and supersedes all prior conversations between them or their advisors. The agreement also emphasised the importance of not disclosing information.

The significance of confidentiality has been constantly highlighted to me whilst volunteering. I recognise just how paramount it is to protect our clients’ information and I know that this understanding that I have gained through volunteering will prepare me for my future career.

A final aspect of volunteering which I have found beneficial is helping to research for real cases. This has included looking over online journal articles and books, as well as finding the relevant legislation and cases which may be applied to the focused case. This has given me a real insight into the day-to-day life of a lawyer. I would stress again that this is something which is beneficial about the volunteering experience as this is not something that I have been able to do through my academic studies of employment law.

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