• MUFC Solicitor Maurice Watkins helps College of Law staff and students celebrate their success

  • 10 February 2011

  • The College of Law in Manchester celebrated its above-target success and double digit growth since bursting onto the scene in 2009 when it held its first alumni gathering and prize-giving ceremony at the city’s Lowry Hotel on Saturday (Feb 5).

    Guest speaker at the event was well known local lawyer Maurice Watkins, a Director of Manchester United Football Club Ltd and the club’s solicitor as well as Joint Senior Partner of law firm Brabners Chaffe Street in Manchester.

    The New York Street centre dramatically exceeded expectations by attracting more than 500 students, double its target figure, when it opened in September 2009. This year the number of students has grown again to more than 600, a rise of 20 per cent.

    The College of Law is the leading provider of post-graduate legal education and training in Europe and the Manchester centre became its seventh nationwide location.

    At Saturday’s event, attended by nearly 150 guests including the Manchester centre’s first graduates, its staff and representatives from local law firms, Mr Watkins shared his insights on how the North West legal market has developed over recent years and what he sees for the future. He also gave advice to trainee lawyers on how to progress their legal careers in the current market.

    110210 MUFC Solicitor Maurice Watkins helps College of Law staff and students celebrate their success
    Maurice Watkins meets staff and prize-winning alumni from The College of Law in Manchester. Left to right: Tricia Chatterton, Business Development Director for The College of Law; prize-winners Katy Showman and Lauren Fisher, MUFC solicitor Maurice Watkins, prize-winner Tara Mukerji and Richard Haggett, head of The College of Law in Manchester.

    In addition 25 prizes were presented to former students for their performance on the Graduate Diploma in Law, which gives non-law graduates an entry route into the legal profession, and the Legal Practice Course (LPC), the next step towards a career as a solicitor. A number of the prizes were sponsored by regional and national law firms and legal organisations, including Manchester Law Society.

    Maurice Watkins said: “Manchester is the UK’s leading centre for legal activity outside of London. The College of Law’s decision to open a centre here demonstrated its commitment to the North West and to meeting the demands of the region’s law firms for access to first class legal training.

    “The College has built a reputation for excellence and innovation and I am delighted that its investment in the city has paid dividends. The next decade will be one of great change for the legal profession in England and Wales. It is therefore vital for the future of the region’s economy that we retain legal talent by investing in the training and development of our next generation of lawyers and equip them to deal with the unique challenges that they will face.”

    Since it opened The College of Law in Manchester has formed exclusive partnerships with seven Manchester-based law firms to provide bespoke training. It has also cemented its central role within the region’s legal community by hosting events for The Law Society, the Legal Services Board and numerous local law firms. In July 2010 the centre held its first law fair enabling students to make valuable contacts with national and regional firms.

    It has also set up a range of pro bono activities in the city, which provide legal advice to local people otherwise unable to afford it while at the same time giving students invaluable experience of dealing with clients. These include a Personal Injury Advice Line, run in conjunction with Irwin Mitchell Solicitors, and the Manchester Employment Rights Advice Line. The College also collaborates with other organisations, including the University of Manchester, in running a legal advice clinic in East Manchester and provides regular legal advice columns for The Big Issue in the North magazine.

    A new development for the current year was the introduction of a part-time evening Legal Practice Course run over 16 months, which helps open up legal training to people with work and family commitments.

    Also new this year is a series of workshops to help students develop their commercial awareness and a competition which tests their business know-how by giving them the opportunity to advise local companies on their business strategy.

    Head of The College of Law in Manchester, Richard Haggett said: “We’ve been  phenomenally successful since we opened and now attract some of the best postgraduates not only from England and Wales but also internationally. Saturday’s event gave us the chance to celebrate the achievements of both the centre and our students and we are very grateful to Maurice Watkins for giving us his support and helping to inspire our alumni to go on and get as far as they can in the legal profession."

    The College of Law delivers training for lawyers at all stages of their careers, both before and after qualification, and also has centres in London, Birmingham, Bristol, Chester, Guildford and York.

    Further information from Lucy Wray, Press Officer, The College of Law on 01483 216072 or 07771 971464 (lucy.wray@lawcol.co.uk)