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to think my law student DS doesn't have a hope in hell of getting a paid placement with a law firm

(48 Posts)
Aliceandtherabbit Thu 25-Jul-13 22:04:15

DS is doing a 4 year law degree - the third year is meant to be spent in a paid placement with a law firm which he has to find himself. We're in Birmingham.

AIBU to think he has no chance of getting a paid placement for a year when we don't have any contacts in the law world.

InGloriousTechnicolor Thu 25-Jul-13 22:07:09

YABU - what are his grades like? If they are good he has every chance. The influence of 'contacts' in the legal world is overstated imo.

Although - I haven't heard of students doing whole year placements. Bigger firms do vacation schemes which are a couple of weeks max. Has DS had any guidance from the uni on how to go about this? How have others on his course fared?

guiltyconscience Thu 25-Jul-13 22:07:27

Op yanbu this is the reason why my dd didn't do law in uni. We did a huge amount of research into the reality of her being able to get a placement even unpaid. The competition for these places is unbelievable . I hope your ds is one of the lucky ones good luck to him.

timidviper Thu 25-Jul-13 22:10:43

It is very difficult, you just have to keep trying.

DDs friend has been looking desperately for a training contract and, having been rejected from everywhere has now accepted a post as a paralegal to get a foot in the door. I heard recently of another law grad working as a PA to a barrister just to get a job which had any kind of relevance to what she wants to do.

PenelopePipPop Thu 25-Jul-13 22:13:03

Paid placement in a sandwich degree like this can only mean doing something pretty menial I'm afraid - at best glorified admin assistant with a chance to watch what solicitors do all day. I honestly don't think having contacts in the law world would make any difference to what a placement student will do because a third year undergrad would be a liability if you let them loose on anything more complex than a photocopier.

Which means the only difference between your son and someone whose Mum is a partner in a big commercial firm is that he'll just have to send more e-mails attaching his CV and covering letter to the HR departments of all the firms practicing in the areas he is most interested in (have a look at the Law Society website accreditation panels to get as wide a list of names as possible) starting with the biggest and working down to the smallest. It cannot be impossible or the degree course would not run.

The degree course I teach on does not work on this model. But honestly, it isn't necessarily the best connected students who get on in law. Some of the ones who land on their feet when they leave us are still the first in their family to go to Uni.

HarrietSchulenberg Thu 25-Jul-13 22:14:54

Get him to talk to his Careers people or Workbased / Experiential Learning people at his University. The University should have links with law firms that could help but he'll have to be really good to get in.

stella1w Thu 25-Jul-13 22:32:10

You need to find out exactly what kind of work where counts. He might be better off doing a few shorter placements to give him broader experience. Do they have to be paid or could he do part time unpaid placement combined with paid work in a bar etc? Where did the yr above do their placements.. He shd go to those firms first. Exactly how much time does he have to spend on the placement. Can he do it abroad?

whois Thu 25-Jul-13 22:36:58

The uni will help and provide guidance, don't be so defeatist already before he's even tried!

LokiTheCynicalCat Thu 25-Jul-13 22:43:18

The legal world is so competitive, it really is a meritocracy. If his grades are good and his attitude is proactive, he will find a placement. Tell him to apply to as many of the bigger firms as he can.

He could also look for an internship in an in-house legal department of any large companies, shadowing the general counsel and helping out. I did that before I got my training contract and it taught me a lot about business and made me a better candidate for law firms to take on later as I had some commercial experience.

InGloriousTechnicolor Thu 25-Jul-13 22:45:13

I'm not really sure what the point of a year-long placement during a law degree is - as someone else said, all you can do is low-level admin.

That said, when it comes to getting training contracts, I stand by my previous assertion that contacts are not the be all and end all. Certainly at the bigger firms there is a whole process involving HR etc. so nepotism doesn't really happen.

I know you didn't ask for advice on this, but law firms are absolutely obsessed with academic performance, and what is considered good in other industries is not so in law. Your son should be aiming for a first class degree, as that will help him to stand out. I have heard of several firms only looking at those with firsts and binning the rest (which I think is short-sighted). If he is interested in commercial law, he should educate himself on the commercial world, read the FT and the Economist etc. as this will really help in interviews.

NewGirlInTown Thu 25-Jul-13 22:47:53

Having to compete for a placement is just a taste of things to come if he wants to pursue a law career. As Loki says above it really is a meritocracy, attracting the brightest and the best, just like medicine and accountancy.
It's a jungle out there, but I wish him the best.
On a practical note, as you are looking in Bham there are two firms whose training schemes stand out, they are Wragge & Co, and Mills & Reeve. Have a look at their websites for details.
Good luck!

Nishky Thu 25-Jul-13 22:48:09

When does he have to start this? There are so many firms in Birmingham I am sure it will be possible. Can he do some period unpaid to try and get a foot in the door?

Does it have to be an actual law firm, or could it be legal department of company or other organisation.

I agree with the posted who said a defeatist attitude will not help- he needs to start sending that cv out - there are hundreds of firms in Birmingham!!

BellsaRinging Thu 25-Jul-13 22:52:11

There's definately a point. the uni will help. my friend did a similar degree and is now a partner at the regional firm she did a placement at, and she had no contacts...

Notcontent Thu 25-Jul-13 22:57:06

I don't understand why he has to do a paid placement for a whole year. I have never come across such a thing. What would his role be? I am a lawyer at a city firm. We don't offer such positions and I have never come across a firm that does.

We do have vacation schemes for students, and then of course we have training contracts for graduates.

Alisvolatpropiis Thu 25-Jul-13 23:21:52

Placement for year? I've never heard of that before.

He could well get a job as a paralegal/legal assistant in one of the medium/bigger firms. But given that they generally want somebody who has obtained a law degree already Yanbu.

GiveItYourBestShot Thu 25-Jul-13 23:22:01

Have you heard of 7 degrees of separation? You will almost certainly have contacts in the law world if you look into it. E.g. NewGirl mentioned Mills & Reeve. One of my uni friends is a senior chap there. So in 4 steps your son could have a named contact to speak to at the firm about placement. There's an excellent book called What Color Is Your Parachute (it's from the US) about how to make contacts for a job search, it's really worth reading.

ThePeppermintHippo Thu 25-Jul-13 23:32:28

Ditto some of the other posters - I am at a large City firm and have never heard of firms offering year long paid placements to undergrads. The norm is to offer vac schemes for a couple of weeks in the summer and then obviously 2 year training contracts for grads. I think he might struggle to find something - not because he needs contacts in the law world but just because this type of placement sounds very strange and is not something which is commonly offered.

ThePeppermintHippo Thu 25-Jul-13 23:34:20

Also paralegal jobs often tend to go to students who have already completed their LPC since there is such a surplus of LPC grads without TCs. This course structure with the sandwich year just sounds odd to me! Is this Birmingham Uni?!

GiveItYourBestShot Thu 25-Jul-13 23:43:18

Brunel do a 4 year LLB "with professional placement", which sounds similar to OP's son


GiveItYourBestShot Thu 25-Jul-13 23:43:44


GiveItYourBestShot Thu 25-Jul-13 23:48:36


Worth doublechecking that your son is making use of all the support his uni can offer to get a placement...

firesideskirt Thu 25-Jul-13 23:51:42

Can he switch to an LLB without the "professional placement" and ditch the sandwich bit? It looks pretty pointless to me.

The market is full of graduates (many with LPC) who are looking for paralegal roles. I agree, why would someone pay an undergraduate with very little legal experience for this sort of job? And anything else will be admin, postroom etc.

"Connections" get sixth formers and students a week's unpaid work experience for their CV, tops. Nobody wants to give someone a job for a year just because they know them - that's a serious outlay, and they will interview and choose the best qualified candidate.

Cuddlydragon Thu 25-Jul-13 23:58:14

As a lawyer, your belief isn't at all merited. Nowadays our professional standards with regards to bribery or perception of bias means those with connections are at a distinct disadvantage. We often have to turn down the children of very very good clients for instance as it might seem like an indirect bribe to the client. This is especially true of larger firms. He needs to focus on good grades and doing related things. Students who volunteer at free legal advice clinics etc do well. He should start now looking at summer vacation placements as nearly all our graduates come through that. If he can't do that, work experience in industry or banking is an advantage. Travelling independently is also good. Volunteering at anything showing team skills is brilliant. All of that is more meaningful than connections. Wish him luck.

bellearwood Tue 30-Jul-13 13:01:40

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

eurochick Tue 30-Jul-13 13:04:43

I've never heard of it and it sounds pointless to me (I've worked in law firms for almost 15 years now and this is a new one to me; I've done quite a bit of grad rec in that time and a year's placement doing admin would not impress me, I'm afraid).

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