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UniBuddy: An interview with Sana Haris

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, Sana Haris. Sana began studying the 3-year LLB (Hons) at our Birmingham campus in 2017 and as a final year student she has just completed her studies.

Following the extremely helpful advice from several tutors at my campus, I have decided to pursue a legal career as a solicitor advocate. I like the sound of becoming a solicitor advocate as it means I can maintain a case independently from start to finish whilst being as heavily involved as I possibly can in a client’s case.

Having already had the opportunity to engage with Employment Law in, not only my studies but through volunteering opportunities such as my time at the Birmingham Employment Rights Advice Line, I am keen on specialising in Employment Law.  However, I am still open and looking forward to exploring other areas of law.

I applied to ULaw via clearing after initially choosing to study Biochemistry. The reason for changing my career path was partly due to the fact that on A Level Results Day, I realised I should spend the next 3 years studying a subject which I not only enjoyed, but had a strong passion for and would be able to contribute significantly towards, for example, representing women in the legal world; especially women from minor ethnicities. 

When researching different universities, I found most of the tutors at ULaw were qualified solicitors and barristers, meaning as an undergraduate I would be taught by tutors who had first-hand experience of legislation in England and Wales. This was a major influence on my decision to study at ULaw.

Furthermore, ULaw dedicate a large amount of time to shaping the education and careers of law students at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. This is reflected in the delivery of the courses offered, the support from our Library, Careers and Employability team and events which take place on campus. I guessed there would be more of a focus on law students when I came across ULaw…mainly from ULaw’s name.

The opportunity to join the UniBuddy program arose during the UK lockdown due to the Covid-19 situation. Consequently, as an existing student ambassador I found I was temporarily unable to carry out my role due to the lockdown restrictions as my role predominantly included face to face interaction on campus.

It can be incredibly difficult for prospective students to get to know the University they intend to join without visiting the campus or speaking to current students and staff.

Being selected to work as a UniBuddy with the ULaw UniBuddy program offered an opportunity for me to continue to support prospective students remotely by connecting with them on an individual level which I wouldn’t usually be able to do as a student ambassador due to the nature and size of events which I assist with.

I knew I would be able to offer in depth advice and guidance to prospective students by offering a realistic insight into life at ULaw, but also as an LLB undergraduate and even life in one of the biggest cities in the UK; Birmingham.

I have had a lot of interesting queries as a UniBuddy. The most common ones include my experience of ULaw, why I chose to study law and tips I can give students for writing their personal statement.

I enjoy answering queries knowing I am, in some small way, providing encouragement students or painting them a picture of what it would be like to study law at ULaw. Being able to help prospective law students in this way brings satisfaction that I am already helping to shape the future legal network of the United Kingdom in some form.

I’ve had so many wonderful messages telling me how resourceful I’ve been to students; it warms me greatly to know I am making a difference.

One particular conversation that stood out for me was with a student who initially, much like myself, started Sixth Form with the intention of pursuing a career in science but later developed an interest in law. There were two elements to this conversation; the first being to help the student understand that you can study law regardless of if you choose your A Levels based on a different career and the second, to help the student understand what they would be happiest studying at University between the LLB and a science.

It brought me great satisfaction to reassure this student by sharing my own story of how I successfully moved from almost studying a science related degree to the LLB (and I’ve never looked back.) through the UCAS clearing process.

Much like this prospective student, I hadn’t studied law prior to commencing my undergraduate studies, and aside from participating in my Sixth Form’s debate enrichment programme, I had no legal work experience either. It was important for me to highlight that you don’t need a law based background in order to study law; here at ULaw the course is delivered in great detail with the assumption that students are not familiar with any kind of law, so there’s no need to have studied it previously. The tutors guide you through the materials brilliantly and offer plenty of opportunities to ask questions. More importantly, you are encouraged to ask questions and is something I took heed of. Unlike many of my peers, I did not intend to study the LLB from day one; it was a passion I didn’t think I’d pursue. I spent a lot of time engaged in wider reading to enable me to understand the law I was studying and how it applied contextually. I participated in various legal talks, activities and leapt for any chance to broaden my legal work experience, all of which I communicated to this student.

Following our conversation it was apparent they were relieved at still having the option of pursuing a law degree even with A Levels primarily chosen for a science orientated career even though they still hadn’t made a firm decision about the career path they would pursue (although after having heard of my glorious journey on the LLB, I’m quite certain this student will welcome their own journey to a career in law with open arms). The main outcome was to focus on what the student would most enjoy studying as an undergraduate; a decision which should not be taken lightly and requires contemplation.

I am pleased to know that through UniBuddy, I can act as a guide for students who, due to the Covid-19 circumstances, might not currently have access to careers advisors who usually would be available to guide and support these students. Many upper sixth students may now wish to study something different to what they originally intended to, especially where students face rejections from their courses or Universities. UniBuddy allows me to make a difference by supporting students who wish to transition to a law degree by sharing my experiences of not just studying the LLB, but how I started my journey to do so.

Ordinarily UniBuddy makes a difference to prospective students as it allows them to ask questions from the comfort of their own home, in their own pace without having to queue up and wait. I remember attending open days at University and having to navigate through large crowds of people, just to queue up to actually speak to a staff member or student and consequently be left unable to visit other departments of that University due to lack of time.

If a prospective student has unanswered questions or runs out of time to ask questions to students after chatting to staff, they can easily log on to UniBuddy and chat to current students.

UniBuddy is a great way for international students to have queries answered too; these students can find out about the campus, the area in which the campus is located and the kinds of amenities surrounding the campus without having to physically visit the campus. This also applies to students who wish to study far away from their residential home. I have advised many students on transport links, amenities in Birmingham and general life as a student in Birmingham.

The UniBuddy program has definitely highlighted to me how much my knowledge has grown since the beginning of my studies. Starting off as an undergrad back in 2017 with very little knowledge of the LLB modules, to now answering all kinds of questions in depth and breadth about the many law orientated courses ULaw offer, the LLB itself, the campus and a whole plethora of other areas has enabled me to realise just how much my own understanding of the law has developed.

It has also reinforced how much of a length I go to in order to help those who require my assistance, whether that’s researching queries for students which are not related to law itself (I’ve had queries on how to pursue a career as a psychologist and am very happy to steer students in the right direction) or whether the queries are to do with the BPC, a course I am not studying but as a result of plenty of research I now can answer many questions on.

I’m happy to help and assist those who require assistance and is a trait which I find mirrored in my inspiration to pursue a career in law; helping those who need it.

There’s so much I can say but I’ll keep it short and sweet; get involved in as much as you are able to. Take advantage of opportunities like mooting and negotiation competitions which ULaw organise. Even if you don’t win, you’ll still learn new skills and be able to develop the ones you already have. It’s incredibly important to network so network with as many people as you can – try starting with your ULaw peers from across different courses.

 

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