School of Business and Law

At the School of Business and Law, University of Brighton, we teach, research and consult across the full range of business, management and law disciplines.

student and advisor in placement office

Student experience: Why I chose to take an optional placement year

All of our undergraduate degrees at the School of Business and Law allow students to gain valuable industry experience and earn money with an optional placement year.

Placements allow students to apply their learning to real-life situations and challenges, meet and network with potential employers, and have opportunities to get real work experience before graduating. This is something that employers value highly.

In this blog, we will hear from a student and a graduate who studied our undergraduate law degrees and took an optional placement year. They’ll share their experiences and how it has supported their development and career prospects.

Emily Baldwin, Law with Criminology BSc (Hons) current student

Profile image of placement year student Emily Baldwin

“I choose to take my placement year at ACUMEN Law Limited, based in Hove. They are female-led and offer fixed rate fees to customers. I loved this fixed rate fee model and believed that it aligned with my own motivations, making law accessible.

“When applying, the placement team were a real pillar of support for me. From reading over my CV to encouraging me during the application process, they supported me in finding my placement before it was even advertised which helped me massively stand out.

“I attended two interviews with ACUMEN. Once when I first applied and again, when they had begun to advertise the role. It was your standard interview for the first time, wanting to hear about me and my experiences. The second was more of a catch-up, which I decided to use to get to know them more as employers. I asked them what they wanted from a student and explained how I could provide that.

“During my placement, I have worked directly with solicitors and fee earners across different departments. I have gained an understanding of what is required to succeed and the technical knowledge to achieve it.

“Seeing solicitors in action day-to-day has been a gratifying and humbling experience. We have hosted a pantomime and are currently in the process of setting up the ACUMEN Business Convention. Two unconventional but formative and fun experiences. I will leave ACUMEN with confidence in myself, and many new or developed transferrable skills.

“Taking a year in the industry has made my goals feel more realistic and achievable. Whilst university prepares you with the knowledge, nothing prepares you more than actually doing the job and learning first-hand.

“After graduation, I will continue to pursue law, this experience has only validated and solidified my passions and goals.”

Gabriella Devlin, Law LLB(Hons) graduate

Profile image of graduate Gabrielle Delvin

“I advocate for placement years and try to recommend to as many people as possible!

“I applied for a placement year to have the ‘feel’ for what it was like to apply for jobs as well as interviews. I had only ever interviewed/applied for part-time jobs between the ages of 16-18 and so I did not feel experienced. I also wanted to have experience on my CV to state that I had worked in the legal profession and get the ‘head start’ on other people who would be in the same post-grad situation as me.

“The university provided a website similar to a jobseeker website, but tailored to placement year students. It was so helpful to have the placement team look into each of the jobs to ensure that it would be beneficial to me.

“For my placement at Acumen Law I submitted my CV and cover letter and I was invited to an ‘in-person’ interview at the firm. I had been given a scenario to prepare for in the interview which consisted of a short presentation about why I would be suitable for the for as well as the scenario detailing what I would do in specific situations and how I would respond to emails.

“I worked on many legal research projects which broadened my understanding on how to conduct legal research. At University you are taught how to use the resources to complete coursework and exams, but you learn how to use the research to apply it to real life cases and matters. As well I was able to work alongside solicitors to complete contract reviews, business sales, exchange and completion of conveyancing contracts, blogs and case bundles.

“Additionally, I was introduced to the business world (a big world!). I had chances to network and learn the marketing side of the firm, which is so important. At Acumen Law, we have an annual business convention with over 300 delegates. I was very excited about the event and asked if I could take a bigger role in helping out, and so I was entered into the committee!

“I was able to experience many different projects at Acumen Law, across all legal departments and also experiencing the business world.

“During my placement year, I was actually offered a part-time job at Acumen Law to carry on throughout the rest of my studies! Therefore, my placement year really helped for me to get a job post-graduation!

“Being able to experience the ‘real’ sector has also allowed me to prepare for future firms. I can demonstrate that I can complete legal research as well as other works.

“I am now completing my SQE (post-grad) qualifications alongside being a part time paralegal for Acumen Law – the firm where I completed my placement. I have now been working there for almost 3 years (inclusive of my placement year)!”

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Christina Camm • June 18, 2024

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