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UniBuddy: An interview with Nina Blythe

Our team of UniBuddies are student ambassadors on hand to answer questions about their own experiences and provide insight into life as a student at The University of Law. Today we talk to UniBuddy, Nina Blythe. Nina is studying the GDL at the Nottingham campus. Starting in September 2019 and she is finishing her final exams currently and can’t believe how fast her course has gone.

Since deciding to pursue law around a year and a half ago, it has been very interesting to learn more about the different sectors and areas of practice that law provides. It was initially quite overwhelming to learn about the process of getting into law when it comes to training contracts and how competitive it can be. However, I have also appreciated how varied the work is and that there isn’t just one way to become qualified. At present, I am keen to become qualified as a solicitor and have been applying for training contracts in firms around Nottingham. Ideally, I would like to be able to work in both a private and public capacity, helping the community as well as individuals with their legal queries.

When I first started researching the institutions that offered the GDL, ULaw was one of the first to stand out and I was very impressed by their reputation as well as their student satisfaction rating. One of the main things that helped me decide was ULaw’s dedication to helping students reach their goals in terms of employment. It was clear that the careers and employability service was very active and involved, and had many connections to law firms and organisations in the cities they were located in. There was also a strong focus on practical skills and thinking like a lawyer, which was something I felt nervous about, not having worked in a legal capacity before. The other thing that stood out to me was their new campus in Nottingham, a city I was familiar with from my undergraduate degree at the University of Nottingham.

I was working as a Student Ambassador at ULaw when the lockdown due to COVID-19 was put in place. I remember thinking of the various events I had been signed up to help and realised that so many prospective students would be unable to visit campuses or speak with students and staff at Open Day events. These types of events were a big part of why I chose the universities I went to, both for undergrad and postgrad. The UniBuddy program is a great way to continue that interaction through real time conversations. Prospective students should still be able to ask questions and find out about the University from a first-hand account. When it comes to making these big decisions, it isn’t just about the course itself but also about university life, the location of the campuses and the cities they’re in. Helping students think about and understand the importance of balancing student life and the academic side of things is key.

The majority of the questions I have been asked are to do with the GDL course itself and how challenging it is. This is definitely a question I had myself when researching the conversion course, as it seems quite daunting to do a qualifying law degree in only a year. I’ve also been contacted by many international students who have more general questions about how to qualify in England and the experience of studying in a UK university.

I can’t single out a moment where someone said they’d changed their mind because of a conversation we had, but there have been multiple times where a student feels they have a clearer idea of what they would like to do next. This is always very encouraging. The challenges the GDL presents is a common theme, but also the competitive nature of pursuing a legal career. The UK’s unique system of qualification means that many people have asked me how I’ve found the job market so far and how competitive the course itself is. It’s been rewarding speaking with many different people at different stages in their legal journey while being inspired by where they’ve come from and their goals and ambitions in this next stage of their life.

I believe the UniBuddy programme makes a difference to prospective students especially now when people are unable to visit campuses and talk to people in person due to travel restrictions and the lockdown. ULaw has been great about having virtual Open Days as well but being able to talk in a less intimidating environment one-on-one with current students is definitely a more relaxed and comfortable way to get to know more about a course or campus.

The UniBuddy program has actually taught me a lot about the University itself and the programs offered as I have researched answers for students. It has also reminded me of being a young student full of aspirations and made me reflect on why I chose to go into law and what areas I would actually like to work in some day.

My general advice to any students thinking of studying at ULaw would be do your research. If your goal is to become a lawyer, look into what that means and the different areas that exist. I only started learning about a legal career more recently and I had no idea what the difference was between a solicitor and a barrister, or how to become qualified. It is a big commitment in terms of energy, timing and money so I think you really need to know if it’s what you want. In terms of studying at ULaw itself, I recommend joining the online virtual events and doing a campus visit once things open up. Know what course you are wanting to pursue and have a look at the other areas they can assist you in. I have spent a lot of time with the careers and pro bono teams and they have been so brilliant. Take advantage of all the resources offered to you.

 

Chat to current students about their experiences at ULaw.