Many UK universities offer their students, both law and non-law, the opportunity to take either a semester or a full year to study abroad. It’s a chance to broaden your horizons, soak in the culture of a new country and make new friends. Beyond that, studying abroad can have far-reaching benefits on the remainder of your studies and in your job search afterwards. Read on to find out four of the ways studying abroad can be used to enhance your legal career prospects.
While of course not a hard and fast rule, many of those who have taken a year abroad find themselves performing better in the final stages of their degree as a result of what they learnt whilst abroad. This is because the university style of teaching and learning is not universal. Students in Spain may learn in a very different way than those who are studying in Sweden for example. Adapting to a new way of learning might be a steep learning curve but once you return from your time away you will find that you have a larger toolbox of study skills you can apply to your UK degree.
Also, some of the modules you may take abroad may be similar to modules you will take when you return and this can be invaluable in giving you a head start on these areas. While broad legal principles are similar around Europe, learning about differences gives you a comparative outlook to UK laws.
While you’re abroad, you’ll have opportunities to build up your transferable interpersonal skills. This will be useful when it comes to making applications and attending interviews at law firms. One good example of this, in the European context at least, is increased communication skills. If you have opted to study in France, it is likely that you will have to navigate a language barrier in some cases and even spend some time learning French to help you along. Not only do having foreign language skills look great on an application but being able to explain your enhanced communication skills by way of having lived and studied abroad is really interesting.
More generally, being able to live and study abroad comes with challenges wherever you go and being able to show resilience to bounce back from such challenges is a very attractive trait to employers.
Many law firms, including Magic Circle and Silver Circle law firms, work internationally even sending some of their trainees on international secondments during their training contracts. Completing a study abroad period, particularly in a country where a firm you are interested in has an office or completes work, will allow you to stand out at interviews. Even if you do not see yourself working abroad, opting to spend some time abroad during your degree will show a level of commitment to strengthening your legal knowledge that not every candidate will have.
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A year abroad is something you will never forget. It is common, although often joked about as a cliche, that those who spend time abroad during their degree come back feeling changed. Personally, I returned from my year abroad more confident, driven, outgoing and resilient than when I left. By the time I got back, I was itching to get back to university, finish my LLB and build an exciting legal career for myself. So, embrace the cliche, and use your study abroad growth to your advantage!
Words: Alicia Gibson
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