My name is Alexandra and I have just finished the Bar Training Course at Cardiff University. I will complete the LLM dissertation this Summer and am currently searching for any legal and/or advocacy roles and opportunities I can find.
Did you pursue any other form of formal education before choosing law? If so, what made you choose law?
I went straight into studying the LLB degree after sixth-form as I was fortunate that my year was the first to have the option to study Law as an A Level module. This is where my legal journey began. Studying law at A Level was the first time I had been exposed to the Law. I was able to shadow a solicitor for a week and go to the Crown Court. At the time, I was very young and unsure of what I wanted to do with my life. Watching Counsel in Court was my little light bulb moment of, ‘Oh, I want to do this’. My confidence at this age was non-existent so my interest in becoming a barrister remained a secret for some years. However, this experience was then the catalyst for me going to study Law at University.
What area of the law are you passionate about, specialised in? What made you choose this area?
Crime is the legal field I am most passionate about. I have studied a lot of criminal modules throughout my 4 years in education, so I have always known that I had that academic interest. However, it was not until my role as a criminal paralegal, whereby I worked on cases, represented clients at the police station that I realised my true passion. Each case and client are different, it is incredibly rewarding either seeing someone receive ‘justice’ or receive the help they need.
How are you finding / did you find your legal education? If you faced any barriers to accessing legal education what were they and how did you over come them?
Of course, it has been undoubtedly challenging at times, but overall, I have thoroughly enjoyed my legal education.
The most recent barrier I found in accessing legal education was financial. Following my undergraduate degree, I attended to work for a year, apply for a scholarship and then do the Bar Course the following September. Unfortunately, I missed the deadline for the Inns of Court and therefore my chance of doing the Bar that year. Whilst, I had no idea if I was even capable of getting a scholarship and if so what amount, I knew without it, it would be financially impossible for me to do the course. I worked for another year, applied on time, got an interview and a major scholarship. For anyone alike me, who thinks I simply cannot afford this course, there are options available to you – via your provider, Inns, charities etc, don’t give up!
How has your legal education benefitted you? (to your personal development / career etc).
In my undergraduate degree, I learned the importance of recognising and dealing with burnout. I was prone to taking on excessive amounts of work, responsibility and putting unnecessary amounts of pressure onto myself. I am now aware of my limits, my triggers and how to avoid burning out.
Whereas the Bar Course, has allowed me to develop real confidence in my ability of being an aspiring Barrister.
Any advice for people who are considering studying law / becoming a lawyer?
There is so much I wish I could tell my younger self when it comes to studying and pursuing a legal career.
In University, time management and hard work will become your best friends. Try to stay on top of your deadlines and assignments. The work will at times be challenging and demanding, but you need to prioritise YOU first. Your health and wellbeing must always come first.
Be aware, this profession can be competitive and requires determination and resilience. You will become aware very early on of many others alike you who are heading to the same goal. Their path may look different to yours. They may have just done an internship with the UN, secured vacation schemes from multiple firms, or got firsts in every exam. Please understand from someone who has done it, nothing positive will come out of comparing yourself. You’ll face rejection, you’ll grow and your path will change, but you will get there.