Research assistants, placements and internships
We advertise annually for fixed-term, paid research assistants, who usually undertake a one-year contract, which begins in or around September.
Applications for our 2021 Research Assistants have now closed. We will update the website with details for the 2022 Research Assistants when applications open.
We are open to suggestions from academics and PhD students for an attachment to the Law Commission, to work on projects relevant to their research interests. Details of our current projects are available on this website.
The position would be unpaid, since the expectation would be that the candidate had funding from their academic institution or elsewhere – for example, by grant or on paid sabbatical. However, it may be possible to pay reasonable travel expenses where these would not otherwise be met by a grant (but not accommodation or subsistence). The skills/expertise offered by the candidate need not be solely legal. The Commission would be interested in approaches, for example, from sociologists or criminologists.
We cannot accommodate more than a few placements at any one time and the arrangements would be tailored on an individual basis. This would include details of length of attachment, expectations on contributions to the project in question, attendance and involvement at the Commission, liaison, facilities, arrangements for disclosure/publication/attribution of work undertaken.
Anyone interested in working at the Law Commission on this basis will be asked to demonstrate that they have a specific contribution to make to a current project, for example, on the basis of their expertise, previous work or field of academic work. Those interested should contact our Enquiries desk
Mutually beneficial research
Occasionally, the Commission will be contacted by an academic undertaking research in an area which is of interest to the Commission. Contact is often made when the academic is preparing an application for funding for research, and wishes to maximise the possibility that the research might further our law reform aims, for example, by setting out the case for future reform in a given area, or the academic may already have secured funding at the time of contact (one academic worked with us to analyse the case for reform of public footpaths, a potential project at the Law Commission). Project teams will sometimes contact researchers in an area to encourage academics to undertake research relevant to a project where the benefit of (for example) an empirical study has been identified. These are not to be viewed as a placement or internship because, under such arrangements, the norm will be that the academic works remotely and under their own direction, albeit that the Law Commission will provide guidance to ensure any output is mutually beneficial. Those considering applications will wish to consider the likelihood of the work helping to support Law Commission aims, for example contributing to an existing or potential future project.
In general, such arrangements are to be encouraged as they can make a positive contribution to law reform, benefit the academic, and require little input from us. Law Commission input may be limited to discussing the application with the academic, commenting on a draft, and providing a letter of support to the funding body. To maintain the Commission’s independence, and the independence of the research, we generally decline invitations to sit on Advisory Boards that academics will often establish in connection with the project.
There are likely to be only occasional circumstances where we are able to support other types of placement. In such circumstances, we will be seeking to identify individuals who can work productively on a Law Commission project. We will therefore tend to focus on those who are already qualified lawyers, usually with strong policy or operational experience in a relevant area of the law. Exceptionally, a project may be at a particular stage such that an individual without such developed skills will still be able to fulfil a very helpful role, while also developing their own skills. For example, we have supported a junior CPS lawyer who needed experience of non-criminal work. The individual concerned assisted with the analysis of responses for a civil law project. The shadowing was funded by the CPS and worked to their, our and the individual’s advantage.
The expectation is that the person on the placement will be continuing to receive their salary from their employer. It is not possible for the Law Commission to cover costs or pay individuals for their time with us.
Qualified lawyer workshadowing
The Law Commission is always keen to develop opportunities for qualified lawyers to gain a greater understanding of our work. We are, however, very limited in how much of this activity of this type we can support. Given the limitations, those considering applications will need to reassure themselves that work-shadowing ought really to be mutually beneficial. For example, is the individual someone who has – or is likely to have – the skills, experience and interest in working at the Commission in the longer term? We are also keen to encourage greater diversity so additional consideration should be given to those from under-represented groups if it is likely to encourage a more diverse range of applications for future roles. Care must be taken to avoid any suggestion of nepotism whereby those known to us are afforded priority access.
It is not possible for the Law Commission to cover costs or pay individuals for their time with us.
We do not run our own intern scheme. We may, however, consider taking interns from organisations or academic institutions that run internship schemes. Interested organisations running such schemes should contact our Enquiries desk.