by Nithya de Silva, LLB Law Student (Final Year)
For the 2019/2020 academic year, I worked in a corporate law firm called DAC Beachcroft, who provide legal advice mainly in the insurance and healthcare sector. The team that I worked for specialised in credit hire dispute resolutions, meaning that we provided advice to insurance companies and clients regarding motor accidents and personal injury. My job as a Paralegal gave me the opportunity to assist on a varying number of litigated cases and eventually have a caseload of my own.
I had been very keen to secure a placement whilst in my second year as I wanted a real life taste of what I was studying before I graduated. I was made aware of the placement with DAC Beachcroft through the University, as placement opportunities are advertised to us. I applied to a few of these opportunities throughout the year before my placement and managed to secure two interviews. The interviews were intense, however it gave me a good understanding of how competitive the legal sector is, even at this level.
After receiving the letter and phone call that I had gotten the job, I started almost immediately from July 2019. I feel that my past modules aided me with basic terminology and a legal understanding, but the way the firm was run and the way cases were handled were very different to what I expected! I expected a team to be working on a case with each person doing a different role, like what you might see on TV shows like in Suits, but most people had their own cases with supervisors and managers and it was a very independent job.
I was eased into the role and throughout the year I assisted other paralegals and solicitors on their cases and completed admin work. This allowed me to experience dealing with clients, drafting legal documents and the general idea of working on a case in small doses. I was then given my own case load of small claims cases which gave me the opportunity to be exposed to a wider range clients, and other legal professionals including Barristers, Civil Clerks and solicitors from other firms and also the chance to develop more of a confidence with handling legal documents, speaking over the phone and analysing and forming strategic arguments. Overall I would say it was a learning experience that I couldn’t have gained from just studying!
Returning to my final year was an adjustment, but I felt that I was equipped with more skills and experience about law and why we learn the modules that we do. I feel that it prepared me not only with legal skills but also organisational and time management skills because I had been working a full time 9-5 job where I had had to find time to socialise and live life outside of work. I feel that my placement has prepped me for the working world and given me an insight to putting the theories that we learn into practice, it also makes graduate jobs feel less daunting and it gave me a very good idea on what I want to do for the rest of my life.
So if anyone is questioning whether they should do a placement year or curious about the idea, all I can say is I definitely recommend it because not only does it add to your CV and your experience but it gives you a taster of the possible jobs and roles that you might be doing in the future and a chance to see if the area you wanted to go into is the perfect fit for you!
Interested in studying law with us? Our Law LLB course offers you the opportunity to gain practical legal skills, develop your global experience, and get career ready, with expert staff and employment support. Current student? You can find out more about placement opportunities by speaking to the Talent Team.