New innovation LLB sees Exeter Uni students spend a year at Reed Smith

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Placement roles in global outfit’s London office up for grabs as part of four-year law degree

The University of Exeter and Reed Smith’s London office (photo credit: Philkai1)

The University of Exeter has teamed up with US giant Reed Smith to launch a new LLB with an innovation-focused placement year in the firm’s London office.

The four-year ‘legal placement’ degree is available to Exeter’s existing first year law students, who will be the first to participate in the “immersive” City placement, expected to take place in the 2020/2021 academic year.

The new degree aims to prepare students for increasing “growth in legal innovation and technology”. In particular, the course will address how tech-led change is altering the role of judges and lawyers; in addition to how tech can be used to widen access to justice, such as through online courts.

Students will then have the chance to put this knowledge to practice while working in Reed Smith’s London office — which is the largest of all 28 offices across the globe. During their time students will be sat within two of the firm’s practice areas and, with the support of their innovation hub and tech teams, will focus on designing new and improved ways of delivering legal services.

For now, up to five students from Exeter Uni will be chosen for the placement, which also comes with a guaranteed invite to Reed Smith’s training contract assessment day. If successful, candidates will have bagged one of the 25 training contracts currently offered by the firm each year. It remains unclear how much participants will be paid during their 12 months at the firm.

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.”

This is the second time that Reed Smith has partnered with a Russell Group university to design a bespoke law degree. As reported by Legal Cheek, the US-headquartered firm teamed-up with Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) in 2015 to create a four-year sandwich degree — known as the ‘Law in Practice LLB’ — that also included a placement year in Reed Smith and a guaranteed training contract interview.

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 clients’ needs.”

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Isn’t this a ‘sandwich’ course degree that many other universities have been running for years? Am sure Exeter already does this for engineering.


Yes but I’m not sure it’s been done in law before. Very good idea imho.


Cheap labour


Lawyers have no place spending their time on ‘legal innovation and technology.’ This should exclusively be the job of administrators, tech specialists and business development teams, who should then be able to communicate their proposals to senior partners. The idea that lawyers should be behind this is as risible as suggesting that footballers learn how to design their shoes, or racing drivers get involved in building their cars.


Tippity top top US megadolla firm


Walks like innovation.

Talks like innovation

Must be innovation.

Or could just be marketing puff.


Of course no uni has the cache of students to send to top tier titan firm Greenberg Glusker.


Greenberg Glusker comments are very tired, and worse still when they lack any imagination. 0/10.


Exactly the qualities we are looking for here at GG.



The Doctor


QMUL student

This Is not new. We’ve been doing this exact thing with Reed Smith at Queen Mary for years


Indeed that story is the first article linked to below (at least on the mobile site)…


Don’t expect students to read a full article!!

QMUL Prospective

(Serious) Opinions on QMUL as a uni?


Well that question is entirely dependent on whether you have an offer (or a realistic chance of an offer, if you haven’t applied yet) from any top universities. I’ll try to be helpful with the limited information available, but do feel free to respond with any information that might add clarity. The fact that you are asking this question would suggest that you are considering QMUL as a serious choice for your LLB. It’s unlikely that you’d ask the question if it was your last choice, so I will also assume that this means you are restricted in your choice of university, with Oxford, The Other Place, LSE, UCL, KCL and Durham all being excluded from consideration. QMUL is in London, which is the epicentre of the British legal system. All of the big firms and chambers are situated in London, and you will hopefully be able to gain some experience and benefit from being so close to it all. You should be able to find some experience at a law firm or chambers, and look so see if QMUL runs a clinic in which you might volunteer if you do decide to go. If you are looking for academic reputation, whether that be the general reputation or the reputation of a university for its law degree, then QMUL is dwarfed by the other big London universities, and even more so by Oxford and (regrettably) The Other Place. You will need to visit the law faculty, on an open day, and assess how you feel after that. It is all well and good having a certain university in mind , but if you arrive and do not like the atmosphere or accommodation, then you will not enjoy your studies there- no matter how well taught the course is. I’m sorry that I couldn’t be very helpful, but I hope this gives you an idea of where to start.


QMUL Student

Strong uni. Requires A*AA which Is usually a good barometer of the quality.
I’ve enjoyed studying here. We have the best law clinic in the country (at least at UG level) as well as being in London- which makes getting work experience and linking with firms/people a lot easier. The academics here are reputable, and the structure of the course is good. We also have a good scholarships package that’s better than most law schools

QMUL Prospective

Cheers both for the info, I never doubted LC’s comment section for a second. Indeed I’m weighing my options and QMUL is currently looking not too bad. I’m aware the “prestige” hierarchy is typically described as Ox/otherplacebridge >> LSE > UCL > KCL > Durham / QMUL, though I didn’t know if many would roughly equate QMUL to Durham or place it below it. Either way, being just behind the elite of the country seems like a fairly good position to be in. I’m thinking of going down the solicitor route, hopefully (naively?) either at a US firm or MC. I know there are many other factors to take into account when it comes to such firms (grades, extracurriculars, work experience, quality of application, etc etc), but all else being equal, would you say QMUL is viewed as a “respectable” place at those firms? Respectable enough to be a realistic (i.e. not only the top 2% of class, but like most who work hard enough) option for QMUL graduates?

Truth Serum

If you go to QMUL, you can get into most City firms with a 2.1. Don’t worry about it. If you want firms like Slaughter and May, Travers Smith, Cleary, Kirkland and Ellis, Skadden etc. you will likely need a first unless you train elsewhere and then move as an associate. Honestly, most students from about 15 Unis are basically the same. A*/As at GCSE, AAA A-levels, 2.1 degree from redbrick/russell group. Kids on here break it down due to their insecurities so they will say Durham/UCL is better than QMUL or Leeds. In reality, no one cares nowadays as the grades for entry in so many of these Unis is so high as a standard.

QMUL Prospective

Thank you, truth speaking serum. It’s interesting that you grouped those specific firms together, are they in particular known to be more demanding grades-wise than their peers? Is slaughters tougher to get into than the rest of the MC? Whats Travers Smith doing there? Kirkland, Skadden, and Cleary but no Latham, S&C, Shearman, W&C, Weil, Milbank, STB?

Truth Serum

I tried to be brief so missed out a lot of the US firms. Many of them are demanding and if they offer training contracts often it will be Oxbridge or Redbrick First. It’s pretty clear. However if you can get a 2.1 and a training contract at Ashurst or Pinsents for example, and you get kept on and stay for 2 years, often those US firms open up to people with ‘just’ a 2.1. Note White & Case is not in the same league as those other firms you mentioned. In terms of English firms, Slaughters, Travers and Macfarlanes are the most demanding in terms of entry requirements it appears. The other elite English firms seem to give a wider range of candidates a chance. Have a look at profiles of trainees or prospective trainees on the firm websites and LinkedIn, it will help give you an idea what the competition is like at various firms.


It’s a shame that Reed Smith chose to partner with one of the least diverse universities in the UK – a bastion of white privilege!


Totally agree — a poor decision by Reed Smith.


Given that 10.4% of its UGs are BAME in a country which is only 15% BAME and in a region of the UK were less than 2% of the population are BAME it’s not immediately clear that Exeter isn’t ‘diverse’ even if it is relatively ‘less diverse’ than other UK unis.

I’m not sure what standard people are expecting it to reach. It might ‘appear’ to be more white than what people are used to if they live in London, Manchester, Leeds etc. but that is a very unfair standard to expect it to reach – especially as the Guardian et al keeps telling BME people not to go to unis outside London because they are so ‘un-diverse’

Should Exeter students be denied opportunities because their uni isn’t as diverse as LSE or UCL?


It isn’t just a matter of racial diversity. I recently attended an open day at Exeter and decided it definitely wasn’t the place for me – I am of a very “average” background (and white) and found most of the people I met (both staff and students) to be very obviously privileged and “entitled”. I felt totally out of place there. It’s unfortunate that Reed Smith didn’t look to offer this opportunity to students at a university with a more representative intake, considering the full range of diversity measures.


I’m sorry that you had a bad experience, but this is a rather unfair basis on which to say Exeter students (who don’t get the same advantages Oxbridge and London Uni students do already) shouldn’t get this opportunity. It essentially breaks down to saying “I didn’t like a university because I made snap judgments about some people’s backgrounds on an open day. Therefore all of its students (including the BME and working class ones) should be punished for this perceived slight.”

RS already have a scheme at Queen Mary which has a much more ‘diverse’ intake in both class and range so their selection of partner uni must be based on some other factor than ‘white privilege’.

Auld Jock

Exeter has long been a dumping ground for dim witted braying posh kids too thick to get into a proper university.

Get tae fuck.


I went to Exeter for Law – the first in my family to attend uni and from a working class background. A large majority of my year group were also in the same boat.


Good luck in the City, lad


My sister – BAME and working-class – attended an open day at Exeter and loved it so much she decided to pick it over London universities and Durham. If you can’t cope with the existence of people not like you, that just suggests you’re a snowflake.

City snob

If your sister picked Exeter over UCL/LSE/KCL in addition to Durham, then she has decided to go to the worse Uni of the bunch both academically and socially. Exeter has become a dumping ground for posh rich kids who want to study by the coast. If Durham is full of Oxbridge rejects, and Bristol is full of Durham rejects, Exeter is full of the dregs that just didn’t have the stomach to go to Newcastle nor the ingenuity to bugger over to Trinity College Dublin or Leiden and game the system. I do not know any City solicitor who went to Exeter that did not go to private school. They all also believe the Uni is somehow elite these days, which is quite cute to observe.


Oh that’s unfair! Exeter is better than Newcastle and it’s long had an Oxbridge reject thing going on

City snob

Your response is exactly the problem. Nothing else bothered you in my post other than ‘being better than Newcastle’ because your boarding house master told you so. Congrats, no one gives a shit.

Exeter student

Hello City Snob,

Could not resist this one…

I’m a final year law student at Exeter and have a training contract in the city.

Went to a fairly poor state school and got all C’s at GCSE, have a BTEC rather than A-Levels. Didn’t have a great time of it to be honest.

Applied to Bristol, Southampton, Exeter etc. Exeter was the ONLY university to give me (with admittedly sub par qualifications from a less privileged background) a chance. Doesn’t feel like an elitist or snobby set up to me. Teaching has been great, so far that I’ve placed 2nd in year for Land Law, and achieved a first overall so far.

In sum, Exeter was the only university that decided to take a chance on an under qualified student from an alternative educational path, and has educated me well without prejudice.

But I guess you just see all the shit on the news about Exeter being snobby and elitist…

See u in the city bruv


I am a MC trainee who went to Exeter and did not go to a private school. I know of two other current trainees in my firm in the same situation.


Shit Uni and Shit Firm – Next





Angus, Exeter University LL.B.

This sounds like a splendid opportunity. Depending on how much I like my work experience in the Dubai office of my dad’s firm this year and on the off chance I don’t receive a TC offer, I’ll definitely apply.


Pretty random shop though isn’t it? What’s the wedge at a Pittsburgh operation such as this?


Random shop? Who are you with again?


A top, top titan of a firm. In the words of French Montana – you know what it is.


To be fair, it is a bit shit.

Future Shoosmither

Does anyone know the NQ rates at Shoosmiths?


Tree fiddy per decade and handful of Maryland cookies.


Fuck off


This is an opportunity to do paralegal work for a year for almost no money with no guarantee of a TC at the end of it.

Gradual bitterness

False. They will dangle the TC carrot for 12 months, with maybe a partner saying you’re a shoe in, then when it comes to the end, the real decision makes tell you to bog off elsewhere for TC glory

Fromer Cardiff

Nicely copied from Cardiff University


The vast majority of these ranking comments are ridiculous. Outside of Oxbridge, all Russel Group universities are similarly selective and seen as such by city lawyers. KCL, Exeter, Cardif, Soton – it’s all more or less the same. Your uni matters even less after you qualify and is essentially irrelevant when you’re making a lateral move. Wouldn’t place too much trust in what City Snob says.

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