Professor Sue Prince

Innovative degree helps future lawyers prepare for new technology and online courts

Students have the opportunity to study at a top university and global firm as part of a new course designed to prepare them for the growth in legal innovation and technology and how it will change the role of judges and lawyers as well as increase the potential for access to justice for litigants.

The University of Exeter and Reed Smith have joined forces to create the new four year LLB “Legal Placement” degree, which combines the best aspects of a global top 100 legal education with an immersive, year-long placement at Reed Smith’s London office.

The course, which also takes into account the new way solicitors are trained, will encourage students accepted on to the programme to think about how

being a lawyer will change in the future. During their time on the placement, students will be supported by the firm’s Innovation Hub, Practice Innovation, Technology and Knowledge Management teams to work on active innovation projects within Reed Smith - with a clear focus on innovation, service design, new and improved ways to deliver legal services, and use of efficiency and data technologies.

Professor Sue Prince, from the University of Exeter Law School and director of the programme, said: “The aim of this programme is to deliver law training in a different and more innovative way, which meets the requirements of students and the legal industry. This is more than just a placement, it gives students a real opportunity to experience the world of law firms.”

After the placement, students will return to the University of Exeter to write a dissertation on how it would affect their approaches to the law in the future.

The degree is being made available to existing first year Exeter LLB students, with the first formal placement planned to take place in 2020 - 2021. Initially, up to five successful students will secure a place and will benefit from being able to sit within two different practice areas in the firm. All students that secure a place on the programme will benefit from a guaranteed Training Contract assessment whilst on their placement. 

Holly Allen, graduate recruitment manager at Reed Smith, said: “Following the success of our existing Queen Mary LLB Law in Practice programme, we are absolutely delighted to be collaborating on this new innovative degree with Exeter. We continue to find ways in which we can innovate within our recruitment strategy, and how we compete for strong talent. We look forward to developing our relationship further at Exeter.”

Reed Smith’s increased collaboration with University of Exeter stems from both institutions having a focus on practical learning and the placed importance on students gaining business exposure, alongside critical legal academic understanding.

Professor Prince said: “This course will enable these students to combine their academic knowledge with a deep practical experience and to actively prepare themselves for a future career in the law. One of our aims is to encourage Exeter students to think innovatively about the law and the future of the legal profession in a changing world.”  

Lucy Dillon, chief knowledge officer at Reed Smith, commented: “Innovation is one of Reed Smith’s core values, and exciting initiatives such as these bespoke LLB courses with Exeter and Queen Mary, form a key part of developing our next-generation of lawyers with a well-rounded view of legal practice, innovation, available technologies and improved service delivery, all focused on a deep understanding of client needs.” 

Date: 25 April 2019

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