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Posted Nov. 6, 2017

Is It Important To Find Work Experience Whilst Studying Your LLM?

LLM Work ExperienceWhen you’re studying a Master of Laws is it important to find relevant work experience? Well, yes it is… but there are a few advantages and disadvantages to undertaking work experience while you are studying that you should be aware of. 

Pros of work experience

Obviously, it could be a massive help to your future career especially if you find work experience with a firm or organisation that are what your dreams are made of. You might just find that the work experience turns into a job offer once you graduate, but if it doesn't then at the least you should gain contacts who will be able to tell you about upcoming opportunities. Of course, your university or institution should offer events for you to meet with recruiters and firms who are hiring LLM students as well, but being a known quantity rather than completely unknown to an organisation is more powerful than you might realise.

Someone who you have already worked for will have a good understanding of your strengths and weaknesses, perhaps even better than you do, and your application might be taken all the more seriously. Do not underestimate the power of networking and attending career fairs and networking events are great ways to meet future employers, but work experience will let you meet the right people in a more natural environment. Work experience will give you some great material to use in your studies and even a chance to apply your learning in practice. What is the major advantage of all this work experience? Well, finding a paid job in an area that you find both interesting and rewarding. 

Cons of work experience

So now you're thinking whatever the cons are, surely the advantages of participating in work experience are just too good to give up. However, there are some serious downsides to spending your time doing work experience rather than studying. Unless you're studying part time and have a great work, study and life balance set up, then you might find it hard to fit in work experience. 

A full-time LLM is a full experience and you'll have more than enough to do without spending time undertaking work experience. Many institutions recommend you spend no more than 15 hours of employment outside of your full-time studies. You have to be sure that your studies are not going to be negatively impacted by spending time away from them. If your work experience is in a different area of practice to your LLM, then you might find this confusing and possibly find it interfering with your studies.

Finally, work experience that you plan at the start of your LLM year or even before you've begun your LLM program might wind up being in a different direction to the one you find yourself attracted to. You don't want to waste your time and other peoples’ with work experience in areas that you'd rather not work in. 

How do you get work experience?

There are various different ways you can gain work experience – let’s take a look at some of them.

Vacation schemes 

These are extended periods of working for a firm of lawyers and many law firms will then recruit their trainee positions directly from those students who have work for them on their vacation schemes. Usually, you will apply for these positions directly and your law school should be able to help you find them. If there is a law firm you think you would like to work for then have a look online or contact them directly to see if they offer a vacation scheme – they will most likely be impressed with your initiative.


In the UK and other countries where the legal profession is split between solicitors and barristers, many barristers chambers offer the chance of mini-pupillages to students to get a taste of what being barristers involves. This can be found through contacts you have developed while you are at law school and they are also advertised on places like the Chambers Student website

Insight days

Insight days are individual days at law firms and other organisations that allow law students to see what it is like to work there. On one of these days you will probably get a tour and meet some of the people who work there, it's a good opportunity to find out about vacation schemes or other ways of getting work experience if you are keen to work at the law firm. 

Work shadowing

If you know which area of the law you want to work in, then shadowing someone who already works in this field will help you. The best way to get a chance at shadowing someone while they work is by networking effectively while you study and thereby hopefully meeting the right person at law school events.

Mooting competitions 

These competitions are excellent opportunities to practice your courtroom skills and to get some feedback about what you can improve on. You are unlikely to be given helpful feedback so easily once you are working! 

Pro bono work

Most law schools run law clinics where students can assist with pro-bono work. Often these law clinics might help people who are in need or find it difficult to access legal advice. They are a great way to gain real-life work experience whilst genuinely helping people in need.

Law societies

University law societies will give the chance to meet with other students who are interested in the law, but not necessarily studying it. Many legal careers, especially those in many big law firms, combine socialising and work, so it's a good idea to start practicing relaxing and having fun with people but still discussing the law while you are still at law school.

In conclusion...

Undertaking an LLM is a big decision and a massive commitment in terms of time and money. As you can see, work experience is a good idea but make sure you don't throw everything away by spreading yourself too thinly.

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