US law firm Reed Smith and Queen Mary University in London have created the first degree with an apprenticeship in law offered at an elite UK university.
The first of its kind in the Russell Group, the four-year law degree will see students take a year-long placement at Reed Smith, which has been hungry for growth in London making up seven partners in the City for 2015.
The new four-year LLB, tagged Law in Practice, is being made available to existing Queen Mary LLB students from January 2015, with the first formal placement planned to take place in 2016-17. Initially, five students will be guaranteed a place with a view to increasing the number to 10 in 2017-18.
Students will initially apply to the LLB and can then apply for a place on the new programme at the end of their first year. As part of the criteria for the course, students will be required to complete an eligibility assessment at the end of the first year, with successful students then required to complete special skills modules in the second year prior to the placement.
The course follows Reed Smith’s creation of its Legal Practice Course in partnership with BPP’s law and business schools in 2012, which was modelled on MBA-style business intelligence projects designed to help students understand law firm clients and leads to a Master’s qualification.
Professor Valsamis Mitsilegas, head of the law department at Queen Mary University of London, said: ‘This innovative new programme supports and reaffirms our commitment to deliver real-world, practical experience, alongside traditional educational approaches and academic excellence that students expect from one of the UK’s leading law schools. The new degree provides our students with an opportunity available at no other Russell Group university.’
Nigel Spencer, global director of learning and development at Reed Smith, added: ‘Careers in law are increasingly competitive and both degrees and apprenticeships offer valuable routes to student employability. Our new “degree with apprenticeship in law” offers the best of both, ensuring that students can benefit not only from the in-depth critical thinking of a law degree at a top university but also gain hands-on commercial experience of legal practice in a City law firm.’