The gap between legal studies and professional life is sometimes wide, making it challenging for law students to gain employability skills and knowledge on their career opportunities. A way to overcome this challenge is to get involved in The European Law Students’ Association (ELSA) and take part in activities organised jointly with DLA Piper, a global law firm.

The legal profession is welcoming more students from diverse backgrounds. Because some of these students are the first in their families to attend law school, they benefit from additional mentorship and support. Membership in a student organization gives students the additional insight and advice they require to succeed. It allows students to network, build a strong CV, and learn about what employers are looking for. Potential employers can also easily approach students via an association or student organization.

ELSA partnered with DLA Piper with the objective of providing students from underrepresented backgrounds with access to the legal sector. DLA Piper invites ELSA members to their offices to hear about career opportunities and to learn employability skills from their lawyers. Break into Law is DLA Piper’s global initiative focused on removing barriers to the wide range of legal and non-legal careers within the legal profession.

“This training has been amazing. It has been a great opportunity to discover a unique law firm. I really liked how kind, polite, open-minded and willing were the people who spoke to us. They were all respectful, prepared and also funny. Above all they have been honest and encouraging, thank you again!” (ELSA participant at the DLA Piper Career Insights Training Program in Italy).

“Thank you for organizing this day, allowing us to break into and really get into the day-to-day practice of a law firm such as DLA Piper. We learned more than we expected, and we are most grateful. As Jeremy Bentham said “the power of the lawyer is in the uncertainty of the law.” I think within a day we have seen that if the law is sometimes unclear or equivocal, hard work, great team spirit, passion, determination and team work makes jurisprudence, makes the difference, makes a match point!” (Margaux Frisque, ELSA member participant at the ELSA Career Insights workshop in France).

One more interesting opportunity for law students to get an insight to professional world, and on the other hand for employers to hire interns with international expertise is called the Student Trainee Exchange Programme. It is an international legal internship programme run by and for law students. ELSA created the programme more than 30 years ago and administrates the whole recruitment procedure on behalf of the employer, making it easy for the students to apply as well. More than 400 law students gain work experience abroad every year thanks to the employers taking part in the programme and the volunteers taking care of the administration and promotion.

In conclusion, partnerships between civil society organizations and private companies can benefit young people. The partnership between ELSA and DLA Piper is one such example of a highly beneficial program. Students from underrepresented groups can build a competitive CV and expand their professional network while making new friends.

ELSA is the world’s largest independent law students’ association with 40,000 members. ELSA provides opportunities for international exchange, diversified legal education and personal professional development for law students and young lawyers.

ELSA and DLA Piper run several Break Into Law programmes around Europe in cooperation annually.