Reed Smith and Queen Mary, University of London (QMU), have launched a four-year degree, in which law undergraduates will work for one year at the American firm’s London office.
The Law in Practice LLB is designed to equip students with greater commercial sense while maintaining academic standards. Successful candidates will be guaranteed a training contract interview at the end of their placement year.
Queen Mary students will be able to spend their third year at Reed Smith’s City offices, with the first cohort joining in September 2016. Five students will join the office at that time, with the firm and university hoping to increase that number to 10 in September 2017.
Candidates will be drawn from QMU’s existing law student population, with degrees being converted should they prove successful in their application to Reed Smith.
Reed Smith graduate recruitment manager Lucy Crittenden told Lawyer 2B: “Candidates will apply online via a form and be asked one motivational question such as why they want to work at Reed Smith and complete a strengths-based test. Successful candidates will be invited to interview.”
Students wishing to apply to the firm will be assessed at the end of their first year. The successful applicants will then be taught consulting and project management modules around their core law modules. Although the project is in early stages, Reed Smith and QMU aim to accredit these courses with the relevant professional bodies.
The Reed Smith placement students will be paid around £17,000 per year and will rotate between a transactional and litigious department during their year. There is also a possibility of international placements, depending on business need and student choice, and of working in non-legal, business support departments.
Speaking to Lawyer 2B, Reed Smith global learning and development director Nigel Spencer said: “This placement is designed to help with students’ career choices. There are myriad issues students are thinking about; despite choosing law it doesn’t mean they necessarily want to be lawyers.
“We will be very open to adding in students’ requests. We want to be able to tailor the experience to their wishes.”
While working in departments, students will focus on junior tasks as might be given to a paralegal or trainee, and will be given supervisors to ensure that they are supported and progressing.
QMU head of law Valsamis Mitsilegas said: “[This programme] supports and reaffirms our commitment to deliver real-world, practical experience, alongside traditional educational approaches and academic excellence that students expect.”
Before Christmas, Reed Smith revamped its training contract application process to focus on strength-based, rather than competancy-based, assessment. It has also revealed that disability initiatives put in place after the 2012 Paralypmics have helped it recuit a significantly larger number of diverse candidates.