Miranda Hughes started studying at the University of Strathclyde in 2014 and has combined the academic learning of the Graduate Entry Clinical LLB with practical experience in the University of Strathclyde Law Clinic. Having very recently finished the DPLP at Strathclyde, Miranda will soon start her traineeship at an employment law firm.

Reflection has been a really large part of my university experience from the beginning - I had to write fortnightly reflections whilst studying my Clinical LLB degree and I have had to do the same on the Diploma. And here I am, reflecting again!

It is incredibly easy to scoff at reflection as entirely pointless; I know I certainly did when I first started. More often than not it has seemed like a chore rather than a useful exercise; I have been aided by a glass of wine on more than one occasion.

However, as I sit here, writing what will be my last reflection on my university experience, I have realised how much it has actually helped me. Experiential learning is not simply about trying to achieve a set outcome. It is about taking your experiences, seeing what you have learnt from them, developing generalisations and concepts and then applying them to the next set of experiences. Along the way, as you learn in different environments, you adjust your generalisations accordingly.

What I would have defined as legal research has been totally turned on its head. I have gone from having to read 30-40 articles for an essay to relying on cases and statute alone. Another person’s opinion on the law means very little to a client when they are trying to find out whether they are liable for somebody’s fall in their carpark. Whether an academic believes the legal test for unfair dismissal is correct is entirely irrelevant to a claimant who has lost their job. It is the practical application of the law that is important on the Diploma and beyond.

If this experience has taught me anything, it is that it is okay to not be obsessed with the law. This might seem like a strange comment but as somebody who has never been enamoured by education or university, this was an important realisation. What I have come to realise from the Diploma is that I enjoy the practice of law and understanding how it applies to people, but I do not need to enjoy reading the entirety of the Brexit judgment. Provided that I understand the implications for clients and the wider legal industry, that is really all that matters.

My final reflection will hopefully be of some comfort to people applying to traineeships in the future. I had an interview for one of the larger Scottish firms in late October and when I found out that I did not get the traineeship, I was crushed. I did not apply to anything else for a while and had all but given up. However, I picked myself up and decided to gain some further work experience with an employment law firm, an area of interest. I was in there two days a week and got to know everyone in the office well. By the end of my time there, I had successfully gone through their application process and come out with a traineeship. What I thought was right for me, a large and corporate firm, turned out to be the opposite of what I wanted. Again, I had to adjust the generalisations and concepts I was applying based on my new experiences.

Moving forward, I know that I will need to reflect on my experiences as a trainee and I like to think I might approach this with just a little more positivity (and a little less wine).

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