When genetics graduate Kenneth Wallace-Müller discovered his passion for law he couldn’t put his work or travel plans on hold, so he needed a qualification that would fit around his busy lifestyle. That’s why he chose to study online with ULaw. Kenneth began studying the iGDL in 2015 and graduated in 2017; we caught up with him to talk about his experience of studying online.
I first studied genetics and my bachelor thesis dealt with a number of bioethical issues. Through this I had the opportunity to meet and interview several legal academics and professionals. I found the idea of combining the concepts of what one can do, what one should do and what one shouldn't do intriguing from a scientific perspective, which planted the seeds for what has become my legal career. After completing my first degree in genetics, I was offered the opportunity to study to become a teacher. Whilst it was tempting, I decided to study law instead.
I chose The University of Law as I was looking for a degree which worked well long-distance. Over the last few years I have been working part-time and travel quite frequently. I was looking for a flexible approach where I could study anywhere at any time. The books were quite heavy though. The University of Law has a good international reputation for practical legal training. I have always wanted to be able to travel and to live and work anywhere. English and Welsh law is particularly useful for this. Whilst my ambitions used to be a bit of a moving target, through my degree, my work and my various experiences I have now found my clear goal.
In certain legal sectors, England & Wales law is internationally recognised and it is often used as a governing law and a jurisdiction of choice for cross-border transactions. This international interest means that ULaw's i-Programmes attract a broad range of students from different countries who are already working in such fields. As such, it is a unique opportunity to meet and work with ambitious and open-minded people from around the world.
As part of the online course, there is a great deal of independent learning involved. This requires self-discipline and an ability to put together the pieces without having immediate supervision. On the other side of the coin, as I was working in parallel to my studies, it was important to properly plan, assign my priorities and effectively manage my time. Conveniently, these skills are essential for successful legal practice.
I applied for a traineeship and all the way through tried to show my motivation, my value and potential to the team and the firm. Many firms are looking for students to show competence in a variety of skills. The ones few people mention and which will really set students, trainees and even lawyers apart are the ability to put aside your ego, to listen, to understand the problem, and to work consistently and with an eye for detail.
I currently work as a Trainee Solicitor at the international firm DLA Piper. My team is rather small, which means I have gained a great deal of exposure to the profession and to the market. In supporting my supervising partner, I prepare tender documentation, draft a variety of agreements, work on business development for the team, and do a fair bit of researching.
Luckily our practice area is very dynamic and highly technical. My highlight so far was when I was given a particular case which looked fairly bleak for the client. Through detailed research and a healthy dose of stubbornness, we managed to expose mistakes in the counterparty's argumentation. Eventually we turned the matter around in our clients favour. It was sort of a David and Goliath case, and I remember meeting the client early on and being introduced as part of the team which was going to get their project going. It was a great feeling being able to share in their success.
Don't hesitate to take an online course. You will meet some really interesting colleagues, and despite it sounding long in comparison to a full-time degree, if you can work in a law firm in parallel you will gain extremely valuable academic and practical experience within a short period of time.