Pros and Cons of an LLB Placement Year
Considering a placement year as part of your LLB? Here, law student Bryony weighs up the pros and cons.
From the point at which we begin to prepare for our GCSEs, we are constantly reminded of the value of having work experience and this continues for the rest of our education. For law students especially, this experience is hugely important as it is essential for the majority of applications in the legal profession.
So: is a placement year the best way to get this experience?
Why shouldn’t I take a placement year?
A placement year is not right for everyone – there are a few negatives which you may want to consider:
- It will take an extra year: if you have a particular reason for needing to complete your degree within a three-year timescale, this option may not be for you, as applications begin in your second and third year at university.
- You will still need other experience: having a year working in chambers is great for a prospective barrister, but it is so important to complete various other mini-pupillages in other sets – likewise for prospective solicitors, many big city firms will draw from their own vacation scheme pools, so you’ll still need experience outside of your placement year.
- Salary: only some placements are paid, and this number is steadily decreasing, so it may not be a viable option for those without financial backing as it can be difficult to gain funding whilst on placement.
Why is a placement year beneficial?
Equally, there are plenty of ways a placement year can benefit you. For example:
- Having a salary: if, like me, you work full time during the holidays to save up money funding university, it can be incredibly difficult to lose weeks of paid work for unpaid work shadowing. In light of this, a placement is a great opportunity as it is a full year of paid experience.
- Length of placement: longer placements are more beneficial than one or two days as you can not only get a good grasp of the subject area, but also the way in which this is practised day-to-day. They will also help you gain a better understanding of your work stamina – can you hack the hectic 8am-10pm office hours or are you more suited to a neater 9am-5pm?
- CV: it is very rare to gain experience like this without having some degree of legal qualification, so a placement year looks great to future employers.
- Potential future career: if you work really hard on your placement and make a positive impression on your employers, the possibility of being asked back or gaining a postgrad job from the same firm/company increases.
- Clarity: you may end up working in an area of law that you find you do not enjoy as much as you had anticipated, so a placement will help you work out which areas you are more suited to.
I believe the positives of taking a placement year far outweigh the negatives – but remember that the choice is entirely yours, and it’s important to make the right decision for you!
Words: Bryony McCleery