Law graduate, Jessica Latham has secured a Training Contract with Peninsula Law firm in Manchester. She shares her experiences of studying, both undergraduate and postgraduate, at Staffordshire University and her experience finding a Training Contract.
I had always wanted to pursue a career in Law, but it never felt like the right time to take that initial step. I was living in Thailand at the time, with nothing but a backpack with a few necessities in and an uncertain future. One day, I found myself using a communal PC, scrolling through courses in Law and routes to qualify as a solicitor. The next day I was on UCAS applying to do a degree in Law.
I applied for the foundation degree, as well as the three-year degree, at Staffordshire University; I had been out of education for some time and didn’t have the required UCAS points to qualify for entry requirements. To my surprise, I secured a place on the three-year LLB law degree. I packed my bag and got on a plane back to England to start my new venture at Staffordshire University.
Throughout my Law degree, I gained an array of knowledge of the different areas of Law. In the final year, I was able to choose practical electives, such as Mooting and Legal Advice Clinic. When I started the LLB, I didn’t know whether I wanted to be a Solicitor or Barrister. However, now my ultimate goal is to become a Solicitor Advocate.
Whilst in the last year of my law degree, I was chosen to be part of the team for the International Criminal Court Moot (ICC) in The Hague, Netherlands. This was an excellent experience as we battled through rounds in front of judges and professionals from all over the world.
Staffordshire University’s Legal Advice Clinic (SULAC) is an invaluable experience for a student and gave me a plethora of skills that I believe moulded me from a student into a trainee solicitor. SULAC is a fantastic edition to Staffordshire University’s Law department, allowing students to give legal advice to the public under supervision. I gained confidence, communication skills, problem solving, attention to detail and resilience, to name a few. The transferable skills that I gained enabled me to confidently start work in my first role as a Paralegal, fresh out of university, interviewing a client by myself on my first day.
I then decided to stay on at Staffordshire University to do my Legal Practice Course (LPC) with a Masters (LLM in Legal Practice). This was more practical than the LLB and prepares you for practice. The LPC is very intense, but the lecturers are so supportive and want to see you succeed.
My journey has not been plain-sailing and I have had setbacks throughout my studies. In the last year of the LLB, I was under mental health hospital care due to past trauma. Staffordshire University was my safe place for a long time, turning up to lessons as if nothing was wrong. In 2020, during my LPC, I was under mental health hospital care once again; the Law department and Well-Being team could not have been anymore supportive. I managed to complete my studies and these setbacks were all to become part of my success.
Now, as my time comes to an end with Staffordshire University and I hand in my dissertation (my last ever submission), I leave with fond memories and have secured a Training Contract as an in-house, Trainee Solicitor with an international firm. The interview involved questions on current case law, which I had studied on the LPC and had access to sources – such as Practical Law and Law Works – to maintain my commercial awareness.
Without the knowledge and experience gained throughout my time at Staffs and the support of lecturers, I very much doubt I would be living the life that I am today. It seemed a million miles away for someone who was once a mental health hospital patient, from a deprived area and low income family (that would be the first to go to university).
I started Staffordshire University with nothing but bad A-levels and no future prospect [other than] a dream to be a Solicitor one day. I leave Staffordshire University no longer a dreamer; I leave as a goal setter, with a first-class Law degree, an LLM in Legal Practice and a secured role as a Trainee Solicitor.
I no longer dream ‘one day’. Today I said, ‘it’s day one’.
My goal is to have my own law firm one day, offering students work experience placements to help future generations from all backgrounds to achieve their dreams too.