Studying law abroad: Erasmus programme proves incentive for top firms

Studying law abroad: Erasmus programme proves incentive for top firms

Studying abroad for a year as part of your undergraduate legal education could open doors to internships and possible training contracts according to some law undergraduates currently on the Erasmus exchange programme.

The scheme places students from one European University at another for a year, and aims to breed cultural and social integration across European states, as well as producing more rounded graduates in a variety of subjects, including law.

Kiera Taylor is a law student at Kent University currently studying at the University of Copenhagen.

“I’ve been out more during my time in Copenhagen than during the rest of my degree combined,” she says.

The year is expensive, but financial help is available in the form of free tuition and a €4,000 grant towards living expenses.

The expense has paid off, however, as she has secured two offers for vacation schemes from top City law-firms. Ms Taylor feels that studying abroad may have provided her with an edge.

“The partners who have interviewed me have all been very interested in what I have learned from spending time abroad,” she added.

As well as learning about another culture and way of life, the Erasmus programme also allows students to experience different approaches to teaching. The Copenhagen University does most of its examinations orally, something which could help in future interviews.

“The oral nature of the exams is fantastic interview practice,” added Ms Taylor.

The Erasmus scheme was launched 25 years ago, and has been such a success that the EU is planning its expansion. ‘Erasmus for All’ is a new scheme designed to extend the notion of Erasmus learning to out-of-work graduates. Under the proposed scheme graduates would be entitled to EU-backed loans of up to €12,000 to study a Masters degree abroad.

Jill Marshall is a senior lecturer in law at Queen Mary.

“At present there is so much competition facing law graduates in particular. Students not getting training contracts or pupillages need something to do in the one or even two years they are increasingly having to wait to secure positions post-graduation,” she said.

However, law industry insiders are cautious about the value of the Masters extension programme.

Edward Walker is graduate recruitment manager at corporate law firm Pinsent Masons.

“Chances are, if you haven’t met minimum academic requirements by the end of the Legal Practice Course (LPC), you’re not going to reach it with a Masters. And if you have reached it, but not got a training contract, then the gap you have is not academic but elsewhere,” he said.

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