ULaw’s graduation ceremony at Central Hall, Westminster on the 16th April 2016 had all the usual ingredients – inspiring speakers, proud families, plenty of selfies… One of our star graduates, Victoria Steele gave the ULaw Student Vote of Thanks, so we asked her to tell us about what made her time here so special.
‘I studied the LPC LLM at The University of Law in Birmingham. I had a great experience. The tutors have a wealth of expertise because they are all either current or previously practising lawyers, which means that they are enthusiastic in their teaching and make the workshops really engaging. There is never a stupid question and always ample support when needed.
The LPC is also very practical and helped me to see how the concepts I learnt during my law degree are put into practice. The workshops were a refreshing change to university lectures and the group work involved in these sessions gave me plenty of chances to participate and further my learning. It really gave me a good grasp of the building blocks I needed as a trainee solicitor.
During high school, it was my participation in a mock trial competition that first sparked an interest in law. This, combined with my additional involvement in law-related activities such as the Cambridge Law Conference and work experience in local solicitors’ firms, further contributed to my decision. While at university, I attended a number of career events where I met lawyers and learned more about their careers, which really cemented my ambition to become a solicitor and led me to where I am today.
I completed vacation schemes with both DLA Piper and Slaughter and May as well as a three month internship as a litigation paralegal with Hill Hofstetter. I found my vacation schemes to be of great value as I was able to experience life as a trainee and gain an insight into the reality of working as a solicitor. My internship provided me with a wealth of relevant practical experience, allowing me to further apply my transferable skills in the workplace and prepare me for my training contract.
I am really enjoying my training contract so far; it has definitely exceeded my expectations. I have acquired a great deal of technical knowledge since I started as I am being given more challenging tasks to complete week-on-week as well as more responsibility and client contact. A lot of the work is cross-border too so I have been given the opportunity to liaise with different jurisdictions, working with overseas offices and foreign law firms. Everyone I have worked with so far has been welcoming and supportive and my experiences have really reinforced my decision to become a solicitor.
In 10 years’ time I hope to be a successful solicitor with a number of well-established client relationships. It’s too early for me to know which department I will qualify into but I hope that I will become a specialist in my chosen area of law and continue to strive to achieve my full potential. As I progress with my legal career, I also hope to become more involved with pro bono activities so that I can give back to the local community.
For those considering studying law and training as a solicitor, there are lots of steps that you can take to prepare yourself for the future. Undertaking work experience early on at a variety of law firms lets you understand what life in the legal industry is like and is a great way to help you decide whether this is something you wish to pursue. Attend as many career and networking events as possible; speaking to those in the legal profession will help you to build up a network of contacts that may come in useful in the future, and will give you the chance to ask questions. Networking seems daunting but it is just talking, it doesn’t always have to be work-related so don’t panic, all you need to do is be confident and find some common ground.
Good grades are important to get your foot in the door but it’s all about being a well-rounded individual. Be it experience gained from a part-time job, an interesting hobby, talent or foreign language that sets you apart, it’s important to have something to discuss outside of academia that you are passionate about. Interviewers are impressed with academic performance, but the important question for them is whether they can imagine you as a part of their team – so let your personality shine and be yourself.
In my spare time, I like to travel to new places whenever I can, both in the UK and abroad. I am a budding chef and enjoy trying out new recipes, although I still need a bit of practice. I also enjoy playing netball and currently captain the DLA Piper Birmingham netball team.
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