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Virtual Experience Programme at Matheson

Emer Rafferty


Emer started her legal journey in an unsuspecting place...

Emer is in her final year at Trinity College in Dublin, studying a Bachelor of History. She is also a future Trainee at Matheson! Like many students that leave school not too sure about what the world of work might look like, Emer started her university career studying veterinary science. However, a year into her uni career she quickly realised that perhaps a lifelong career as a vet was not going to be for her. Brave in her approach, Emer decided to pivot onto a new path. After taking a year off, Emer decided to then pursue her passion subject - History.

Emer loved her history degree, but was also acutely aware that she didn’t want to become a career historian. From here she started exploring some career options. Emer was open minded and explored what her campus had to offer - she ended up getting involved in the law society. As she spoke to more students, she realised that there were many transferable skills from history to law - and was keen to explore what a career in law might look like for her.

Emer started her law journey by looking for some experience

With no previous legal experience, Emer embarked on the daunting journey of searching for tangible legal experience in the competitive legal environment in Ireland. She started by sitting one of the Law Society's FE-1 exams to get the ball rolling! Emer then managed to secure a legal internship at a risk and regulatory firm (online due to the pandemic). This was a valuable experience, but Emer still had a hunger for exploring a career in a commercial law firm like Matheson.

Completing the Matheson Virtual Experience Programme was a career defining moment

Amongst the sea of law firms out there, Emer wanted to start her career at a firm that she would thrive in. Although Emer didn’t have internship experience with Matheson, doing the virtual experience programme enabled her as a non-law student to gain critical insight into the firm - and also figure out whether the work interested her.

For Emer, the programme was challenging and practical. She emphasises that it is worthwhile doing as you actually undertake tasks that you would be doing as a trainee at Matheson. This allowed her to feel better prepared for her interview and for her application more generally. Having seen Matheson’s partners speak in the virtual experience videos, she could more easily understand the topics they referred to during the interview process.

Further to this, the programme gave her the ability to show that she was truly interested in Matheson. Mostly though, Emer found that it was a useful experience because it:

  1. confirmed that law was a career she would be interested in and that Matheson was the right place for her to start her career; and
  2. signalled to Emer that Matheson was serious about pulling in a diverse range of students from different subject backgrounds which really resonated with Emer.

“It was an incredibly beneficial programme...I felt like I already had experience there, I felt like I had been given a piece of the team or had a part to play already even though I hadn’t done an internship with Matheson”

If Emer could wish anything for the legal recruiting world it would be...

Emer felt that when applying for law jobs, she found most law firms lacked that personal touch. For all law students, applying for vacation schemes and training contracts is a gruelling and often heartbreaking process. By doing the virtual experience programme with Matheson, she really felt that there was a personal connection generated with the firm. The fact that you were briefed by actual lawyers at the firm was really beneficial and better simulated what it would be like in the day of a life of a Matheson trainee. Applying for law roles is such a rigorous process - but through the virtual experience programme Emer felt truly connected to Matheson and supported as an applicant, which ultimately led her to choose to start her career at the firm!

She recommends all students take advantage of these free opportunities - they really help to set you up for success!

What stood out for me really with Matheson was that it felt it was more personal [than other firms] because I’d had a taster of the experience - it would be amazing if all law firms could do that.”

 This original article was published by the Forage here. > 

To learn more about Matheson's Virtual Experience Programme, view here >