Eugene Marlin, Thomson Reuters Legal Scholarship recipient, speaks about his 40-week work placement as part of his Law (LLB) degree.
A placement makes you stand out from other applicants in competition for a role because it provides a wealth of experience to refer to in interviews.
I applied for roles during my third year using a number of online resources and succeeded in gaining a placement role that was advertised on the university’s careers website at a local authority.
Advantages of a placement year during your degree
- The main advantage of a placement is that you will learn about your preferences regarding work environment, location, organisation and area of law.
- A year of work is also a great opportunity to gain experience in areas of law that you had not considered or did not know much about before, for example, I worked in two completely different roles while at the local authority. I would suggest working in different teams, departments or areas of law to experience a variety of working environments.
- You get the experience to earn and manage your money. It gives you an awareness of accommodation, travel costs and commute time.
- You can learn a lot by working alongside colleagues with very different backgrounds and experiences.
- You are still considered a student and retain the benefits of this while working full time. The benefits include council tax exemption and reduced travel costs.
- Time on placement can lead to a reduction in the length of your training contract (and potentially a job at the end of it!).
Potential disadvantages of a placement year
- You can earn a significantly lower salary than in a graduate role.
- You graduate a year later than if you had not completed a placement year.
- Start applying early before you are too busy with law module work and other university commitments. A good idea is to set aside a number of hours weekly to focus on applications.
- Choose a placement provider which takes on placement students yearly with a definitive job role compared to an organisation which has not taken on placement students before (and therefore may not able to offer you a structured, varied placement).
- Factors to take into account before beginning placement are: area of law, size of organisation, work variety, office social life, location of workplace, travel, accommodation, training offered and future opportunities to work at the organisation.
- Remember names and faces. Some of the people that you come across during your placement may be able to help you going forward when you are looking for training contracts, work experience and CV/application checking.