ULaw graduate star, Melissa King, took the 2-year accelerated law degree at the London Bloomsbury centre. She received three training contract offers, finally deciding on Ashford LLP, and is now taking her LLM LPC at ULaw Bristol. She helped found ULaw’s online prospectus by students, #liveprospectus, and is a media ambassador. Here she shares her experience so far, with some great advice for law students just starting out.
I chose ULaw because I felt it was very practical and forward-thinking. In comparison to other universities, ULaw constantly makes theoretical material relevant to the real world. Right from the start we were thinking like lawyers and being given lots of opportunities to work as lawyers. I think it is invaluable experience for the future. The balance of workshops and large groups is also a refreshing approach to learning. In addition, the fees were very reasonable especially for the two year course – as it costs the same as the three year course, but it’s still less than going to any other university. The tutors are also all very friendly and there is an ‘open-door’ policy to ensure they are contactable at all times.
ULaw’s career centre was fantastic at organising talks and events to help us network with law firms. They also helped with my CV and any questions I had on applications. I got involved in many schemes with ULaw including the pro bono department.
A particular highlight was a team project we were set in the first week of the LLB degree. Our team reached the final and got to present in front of partners from three different law firms in London. It was a great experience and it helped me to overcome my lack of confidence. It really acted as a springboard into my degree and I remain in contact with one of the partners, and subsequently obtained work experience at their firm. All the partners commended me at the time for my ability to answer questions and present. I was really pleased with this feedback and it gave me a lot of confidence.
To go about securing a training contract I undertook research on firms, in particular their location and reputation in accordance with the Lex 500. I then applied in early 2015 for vacation schemes and training contracts. The hardest challenge was dealing with rejection by firms and motivating myself afterwards.
Firms are looking for candidates who can network, a sound academic and, most importantly, an appreciation of wider social, political and economic issues.
The hardest question I was asked at interview was ‘Why you?’ It can be hard to communicate and appreciate your own achievements. In your own head you may feel that you sound arrogant but it's important to speak highly of yourself so that others can appreciate all you have achieved. To discuss what makes you different isn't something to be ashamed of - it's something to be proud of.
I received three offers from firms and accepted Ashford LLP, which offered me full LPC funding as well as a 2016 start, located in their head office.
In 10 years’ time I hope to be an associate on track to being a partner but I also hope to have set up a programme to increase access to law for people with disabilities or poor backgrounds. I am inspired by anyone who overcomes their own obstacles to achieve their dreams.
I was featured in an article in the Daily Mail. I always try to make the most of the opportunities that I have been given , and it was a great experience. It can be difficult to set yourself apart on applications so I am keen to raise my profile. The legal market is so competitive and I feel representing the University in the media helps me gain skills and show everyone who I am.
I am most passionate about helping others and I hope that going into law will enable me to continue to do this, both personally and professionally. I was fortunate enough to be able to assist at the ULaw pro bono department. I have always been keen to volunteer for charities, particularly helping those most vulnerable in society. I hope one day to be able to set up a centre for young people, the homeless or those overcoming addiction .
To law students starting out I’d say it is going to be hard work and at times you will want to give up but if it was easy it wouldn’t be worth having.
I think one of the best books written is The Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss. Whenever I feel overwhelmed I pick it up and have a read and inevitably it cheers me up. It is also pretty good for life lessons too: “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.”
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