As a law student it is often hard to find something that makes your application stand out from the crowd. The message is clear for anyone that wants to enter the fiercely competitive legal world – you must have more than just good grades. Volunteering with Amicus ALJ will certainly help your future applications sparkle.
The work undertaken by the UK volunteers is so varied and I am very fortunate to have covered the full spectrum. From being appointed as an Amicus Student Representative in my second year of my Law Degree at The University of Winchester, to assigning lawyers casework. My favourite so far has been running a casework group with other Law students at Winchester following the overwhelming support from Dr Bea Myers, the Law Program Leader. From lectures on the rule of law – to seeing it play out in practice, has been an incredible experience.
Working with the UK Amicus team you realise that there is so much work undertaken by so few people, and because of this, you really get the chance to make a real difference. I have helped out at training weekends and a number of Amicus guest speaker events. But I have also had the opportunity to host a some of my own events at Winchester. From an evening with Sunny and Peter, two death row exonerees, to welcoming Mark George QC to the campus where he shared his experiences from his time in America.
The most transferable skill I have gained is from undertaking casework. The casework team help provide remote support for the Capital Defenders in the US. The casework is varied, and no two cases require the same skill. I have learned to review large documents for key pieces of information that will help the attorneys in the US. I have undertaken several pieces of work that have been used during trials. I have also helped in the coordination of a large constitutional research project. This research is seeking to find which qualities are more likely to make a defendant receive the death penalty, and the work is being monitored by the US Supreme Court. As a law student, exposure to projects like these are invaluable and give me the opportunity to talk about practical skills I have learnt in interviews, and they have truly helped me become a better law candidate.
I chose to become a UK volunteer as I have a son, and being a US volunteer is something that I couldn’t quite work logistics for. However, my time with Amicus has empowered me to believe that you can make a real difference no matter how far through your legal career you are. Through my time with Amicus I have created my own support network. Many former volunteers have gone on to be Barristers and Solicitors, and some of the Amicus training team are passionate academics that are only too keen to support and guide you. Consequently, I chose to complete my dissertation on the death penalty and was supervised by Bea who delivers the American Constitution element of the training weekends.
If going to America is not something that you can achieve, there is still so much that you can do. No matter what your availability, there really is something for everyone. You can help make a real difference, and I have enjoyed every moment of my time with Amicus.