Life as a Legal Advice Centre Placement Student…

Life as a Legal Advice Centre Placement Student…

Lauren Kilbride

I was a full-time LLB Law student that had not opted for a placement year. However, when it came to the start of second year and after undertaking summer work experience in various law firms, it was clear to me that a placement year was the way forward.

Why? That’s an easy question to answer. Whilst undertaking work experience it was clear that certain skills were needed in order to be successful in a legal career; from client interviewing skills to drafting skills. I knew that I was never going to learn the practical skills needed in a legal profession in the classroom and the only way to gain this practical experience was to undertake a placement year at a law firm.

How did I go about getting a placement if I had never opted for a placement year in my degree in the first place? Luckily for me, Nottingham Law School allow LLB (Hons) Law (full-time) students to transfer to sandwich course if they secure a placement. This does not mean that you can sit back and relax whilst they do it for you, you still have to actively look and complete the work necessary to apply for placements e.g. doing a CV and Covering Letter.

The best resource I used was the NLS Employability team. They were a great help when it came to writing a CV and Covering Letter. The support that the Employability team gave me was invaluable; they made sure that my CV was perfect for the position of Legal Assistant at the Legal Advice Centre and if it was not for their help, I do not think I would be writing this blog right now!

I have now been on my placement at the Legal Advice Centre for just over five months and I have loved every day of it! Not one day is the same here and my work varies greatly from: ringing clients; attending Social Security Tribunals; attending client interviews; writing attendance notes; leading the Student Pro Bono Committee; to actually having real life cases of my own.

I chose to do my placement year at the NLS Legal Advice Centre for several reasons:

  1. The variety of work that I would be able to do was so wide compared to other law firms in Nottingham.
    The responsibility I would be given within the role of Legal Assistant. Most firms would not give you the level of responsibility that I have been given.
  2. At the Legal Advice Centre I get to have my own cases, manage a Student Committee and even represent the Legal Advice Centre at networking events. Most recently, I organised an Open Day event for the Legal Advice Centre and I will shortly be delivering a feedback lecture to unsuccessful applicants.
  3. I worked at the Legal Advice Centre as a volunteer in my first year at university and the support given to me by the members of staff in the Centre was incredible, everyone is approachable and always willing to help.
    Many students are put off a placement year because it means another year in their degree, however, the pros of doing a placement year seriously outweigh that cons.

The practical skills and personal skills gained in a placement year are so invaluable and employers in the legal profession highly rate the skills that are gained. Not only do I recommend a placement year, but I recommend doing your placement year at the Legal Advice Centre, the responsibility you get is far beyond any other law firm would give you.
My biggest aim throughout the year, along with gaining the practical skills needed in the legal profession, is to build upon my personal skills, especially my confidence.

I am trying to improve my confidence by doing client interviews, manage the Student Committee and represent clients at the Social Security Tribunal. I recently found out that I have passed the Free Representation Unit test and I am now due to represent my first client in the Social Security Tribunal next week!

So for any aspiring lawyers out there, I cannot recommend a placement year enough! I will be on the Legal Advice Centre stand at the Nottingham Law School Law Fair on Wednesday 24 January 2018, if you have any questions about the placement – come and say hello.

About the author

NTU Law Sandwich student currently on placement at the NLS Legal Advice Centre.

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