A new student at The College of Law in Chester is proving that it’s never too late to change career direction and move into the legal profession.
Suzanne O’Donnell, a successful software applications consultant, was this year named the Open University’s Centre for Law Student of the Year for achieving its highest graded law degree of 2009.
Suzanne, from Little Neston on the Wirral, has now joined The College of Law to undertake the Legal Practice Course (LPC), which will take her a step closer to fulfilling her dream of becoming a solicitor.
She manages to combine her studies with a demanding full-time job in the field of logistics software, which involves spending several nights a week away from home.
“I can’t afford to give up work to study so I have to study part-time,” she said. “Undertaking the OU degree was very taxing but I found the work became an enjoyable pastime when I was stuck in a hotel bedroom or on various forms of transport during business trips,” she said.
“My books came everywhere with me, even on holiday when I studied for a couple of hours a day. I am aware that I am older than many law students and that led me to work harder, resulting in my getting a First.”
Suzanne began her current career as a business systems analyst after taking a business studies degree in the late eighties. In 2004 she decided to change tack and work towards becoming a solicitor after tiring of the large amount of travel demanded by her job and in 2005 she started the OU law degree.
“I enjoy my job but I no longer enjoy the travel,” she said. “I moved to the Wirral 15 years ago and this is where I and my husband will continue living, so I want to have a more local career.
“I did a lot of soul searching into what I could do instead. Law appealed because it is challenging and interesting and I enjoyed the law part of my business studies degree.”
She is now studying on the part-time two-year weekend LPC course at The College of Law, based in Christleton, and plans to start looking early next year for a training contract with a law firm to qualify as a solicitor.
“Although I’m still at the beginning of the LPC I have a heavy leaning towards going into commercial practice, hopefully with a firm in Liverpool or Chester or on the Wirral,” she said. “I’m not the usual type of applicant, however I hope that law firms will see the benefits of someone with as much experience of working with clients as I have.”
Suzanne’s legal success so far has already made a great impression with the director of the OU’s Centre for Law, Prof Gary Slapper, who commissioned her to write some online materials for his forthcoming revision guide to the English legal system.
Carol Draycott, head of The College of Law in Chester, said: “Suzanne’s success in her legal studies will serve as an inspiration to anybody interested in converting to a satisfying career in the legal profession. She proves that it’s never too late to change and here at the College we offer a range of flexible part- and full-time courses to enable students like Suzanne to achieve their goals. I’d like to wish her continuing success at the College and in her future career.”