Degree and university: Law LLB, Bournemouth University
Work Experience: On my placement year I worked on death penalty cases in Kansas City Missouri and Jackson Mississippi in America for a year.
Reasons for doing work experience: One of the reasons I chose Bournemouth University was the fact it was one of a couple universities in the country which had a compulsory placement year. I wanted to have experience in law as well as a degree.
Reasons for choosing placement: I chose this particular placement because it was something different. As well as being in another country I was going to be dealing with the most extreme side of law where someone’s life was at stake if the law wasn’t applied correctly.
Tasks carried out during work experience: I worked in two different offices. In my first office we dealt with post-conviction cases – people who where on death row already. Here the role was more office-based, dealing with phone calls from the clients, going over old evidence, and chasing up files. In my second office we dealt with cases where the state was seeking the death penalty. Here my job was to help build up a mitigating evidence case for the sentencing part of the trial. The work was more fieldwork – visiting the client and their families, tracking down witnesses, and interviewing people of interest.
Impact on career progression: I always thought that I would go into the corporate side of law but doing this work placement has definitely made me passionate about the criminal side of the law.
Highlights and downsides: Two clients whose cases I worked on are now no longer up for the death penalty. This is what I went out to America for so I am happy I got to play my part in achieving this result.
The downside was definitely losing someone to the death penalty. It was a sad day where someone who died unjustly (in my opinion) and in the hands of the state and system, which was supposed to protect them from wrongly having their liberties taken away from them.
Personal Gains: After doing this placement I am even more determined to find the right law firm to work with. A firm that has the same values and is equally as passionate about the area of law they work in.
Qualities needed for making a success of work experience: You need to be determined to put 100 per cent effort into your placement. Never take for granted the work you are being asked to do. When I had the challenge of photocopying stacks of paper it was never a problem because at the end of the day it meant a more experienced lawyer could spend a day not photocopying but helping save someone’s life. If you look at it from another angle any job you do is hugely important.
Advice for people wanting to do work experience: Keep your options open. Think outside the box, and talk to everyone! I found out about my placement by talking to a lady when I was sitting on a train. There are hundreds of placements out there, which you may not think of straight away, but are going to be perfect for you so just keep looking.