When 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, like the London School of Economics, offer events for you to meet with recruiters and firms who are hiring LLM students as well. 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 the advantages of participating in work experience are just too good to give up. 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, 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 completing work experience. Many institutions, like the University of Aberdeen, 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 you plan at the start of your LLM year or even before you've begun your LLM 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.
Undertaking an LLM in the first place is a big decision and to do work experience in addition to choosing your ideal LLM course, it should be carefully considered. Don't throw everything away by spreading yourself too thinly.