The most obvious I suppose, what made you want to study law?
I would love to be able to say that it was my passion from a very young age, but honestly, I fell into law. I chose to study it at A-Level after hearing that it was one of the subjects being offered at my local sixth form college, thinking it sounded interesting. Once I was actually at college, I was really lucky to find that the law department went above and beyond most A-Level courses, as it offered opportunities to write research papers and even hosted its own annual mooting competition. Having that chance to moot so early on was invaluable and showed me that the practice of law had the potential to be a fantastic career, so I didn’t think twice applying to study it at University.
Looking back now I definitely don’t regret the decision of doing the LLB, I genuinely enjoyed studying law academically. I think it is one of the few courses that you can take at University that exposes you to a wide range of subjects and issues in society. I’ve had the chance to analyse everything from the legal implications of the advances in genetics to how copyright laws are adapting to the growth of the internet, I don’t think many other courses can offer that kind of variety.
As well as obviously having your LLB, you decided to do an LLM straight after. Was your LLM specialist? What made you want to study one? You also made the decision to stay on and study your LLM at the same uni where you undertook your LLB, why?
Like I said, I really enjoyed the academic study of law and so it seemed like a natural progression to continue studying, especially since I had the opportunity to specialise in corporate law, an area I was particularly interested in. I studied my undergraduate at the University of Exeter and I knew from speaking to my personal tutor that the University offered a great commercial law LLM programme. I did consider applying elsewhere, but I knew that the course suited my interests, that the lecturers would be fantastic and that as alumni of the University I would be offered a fee reduction if I stayed, which as I was self funding the course, was a huge bonus.
The title of my LLM is officially International Commercial Law, but the modules that I studied had a stronger corporate focus. In particular I had the opportunity to study Corporate Social Responsibility, which is a great course which looks at how and why companies have begun to approach their businesses in a more socially responsible manner over the past few decades. That was definitely the highlight of the course and I enjoyed it so much that I ended up writing my LLM dissertation on the subject in the context of the pharmaceutical industry.
Any top tips for people wanting to study an LLM?
My only advice would be to make sure that it is definitely what you want to do and that it is for the right reasons. When you’re studying for a masters degree you have to be passionate about your subject in order to make it worthwhile.
Having just finished studying the LPC, was it an intense year?
Personally I didn’t find the LPC in itself hugely taxing (it was also admittedly very very boring), what was more difficult was balancing it alongside my other commitments. As with the LLM, I was self funding the course and so I was working part time alongside the full time course, whilst also tutoring A-Level twice a week and running Big Voice London. It was quite a lot to handle all at once, but I think most people would agree that if you can’t handle a hectic schedule and having to sacrifice your social life at times, you may not be suited to working in the law anyway.
What has been your favourite module to study and why?
Like I said before, I enjoyed studying the Corporate Social Responsibility module on my LLM, but really any of the subjects with an ethical element interested me. Tort law, one of the compulsory modules on the LLB, was probably my favourite on the undergraduate course, because it looked at very current contentious issues like privacy law and the media, which I was able to watch unfold in the press whilst I was studying.
Have you been involved with anything at uni or outside of uni that is law related?
During my undergraduate degree I got involved in a lot of different law related activities, but the two that really stand out for me are mooting and pro bono work. As I mentioned before, I started mooting whilst I was studying for my A-Levels at college and having enjoyed it so much, I continued to compete in mooting competitions at University. I was very lucky during my time at Exeter to be put forward for two national competitions, which were fantastic experiences that really tested my advocacy and research skills against some of the best students in the country. I really cannot stress how valuable mooting can be during a law degree, or even during the GDL, as it gives you the opportunity to test out your understanding of the law, all whilst dealing with the added pressure of judicial intervention. That experience is great for preparing you for the pressure of an exam, which at least in the case of Exeter, tended to reflect in the academic success of the people who took part in mooting.
In terms of pro bono, during my second and third year of University, I was given the chance to set up and run a pro bono project at my University called the Innocence Project. The Innocence Project was initially founded by a University in America, with the aim of assisting prisoners on death row who could be proven innocent through the use of DNA testing and has since grown into a general pro bono project with the aim of helping individuals who have been wrongfully imprisoned. The experience of working on a real case whilst still at University was completely invaluable, as it gave me an opportunity to delve into the practice of law, beyond anything I would do during a normal work experience placement. Over the two years I liaised with the client, the courts, the Crown Prosecution Service and our assisting practicing Barrister. Again, as with mooting, I cannot recommend this kind of experience enough if you want to pursue a career in the legal profession, be it as a Barrister, Solicitor or an alternative career in law.
You are one of the Directors of Big Voice London, explain a little bit about what it is, what you do, the events and the twitter chats?
I work alongside my Co-Director Emily Lanham running Big Voice London, a legal youth engagement organisation which is supported by the Supreme Court. The organisation seeks to empower young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, through knowledge of law and legal policy. Throughout the year, we run events such as an annual Mooting Competition with the Supreme Court and a Summer School with Landmark Chambers.
I joined Big Voice London two years ago as a Group Leader, teaching on the Model Law Commission, which is BVL’s flagship project the only one of it’s kind. It involves sixth form students mirroring the work of the actual Law Commission, by taking on four different areas of law that are in need of reform and coming up with ideas on how best to change them. During the time that I have worked on the project the students have worked on tackling serious issues such as extradition, prostitution, revenge porn and cohabitation. It really is fantastic to see the impact that these kinds of projects can have on the student’s confidence in voicing their opinions and even in their career ambitions. We have had students recently tell us that before joining Big Voice London they were not planning on going to University, but have since realised that their background does not have to hold them back. Hearing that kind of feedback makes all of the hard work organising everything completely worth it.
As for the Twitter chats, I’ve recently been seeking to grow Big Voice London’s online presence and they are all part of that. For two months running now I’ve been selecting current legal issues for our Twitter following to discuss over the course of an hour using the hashtag #BVLlawchat. It all started out after I saw another organisation running something similar and thought it would be a good way to get our supporters and students talking. Big Voice is all about giving our students the opportunity to voice their opinions and engage with the law and social media is the perfect way for us to do exactly that but with a larger audience. We’ve also uploaded summaries of the chats onto our website at http://www.bigvoicelondon.co.uk/#!blogbigvoicelondon/cdin, so those who missed out can still catch up on the discussions. We’re currently planning to run more alongside our upcoming Model Law Commission to mirror the topics the students are reviewing – keep an eye on our Twitter for more details on that!
You recently had an article you have written published in a law journal – how did this occur?
Shortly after I graduated from my masters, my boyfriend Samuel McCann suggested that I look into publishing some of my papers, so I got in contact with my lecturers to ask how I would go about doing that. As I said before, the academic staff at Exeter are really supportive, so they were really helpful in pointing me in the right direction. My Carriage of Goods by Sea lecturer put my LLM paper forward to her alma mater, Southampton University, which has its own journal. They accepted my submission and after many months of edits, it was published. Needless to say I’m really pleased to have a paper published, it’s a great feeling knowing it might be used in another persons research. Obviously I would really recommend other students asking their tutors if any of their work is suitable for publication, it doesn’t hurt to ask!
What are your future plans now that you have finished the LPC?
After five years of studying, I am definitely ready to get stuck in to practice, so I’m pleased to say that last week I started a new job working as a Paralegal at Media Law firm Carter-Ruck. So far I’m really enjoying it, so I’m feeling pretty optimistic for the future.
Of course, as an LPC graduate I’m hoping to obtain a training contract somewhere in the next few years, either in Media Law or Commercial Law or a mixture of the two. Only time will tell!