I studied the LLB Law Accelerated Route degree. I decided to study this course primarily because the prospect of studying a full law degree in two years rather than the traditional three (or more in other countries!) appealed to me. Having previously studied for a full degree in my home country, this was ideal. Also, going through the University brochure and website, I really liked the facilities on offer and the opportunity to study on a beautiful countryside campus that also happened to be close to a thriving city. I think I watched every single video on USW’s Youtube channel before coming here just to get a feel for what student life was like!
My biggest achievements are graduating with a first-class degree and being awarded the prize for top student in my class, achieving these despite the challenges being in a global pandemic brought about. There were many other amazing moments throughout the degree. I recall the moot (mock court) exercise in the first year, in which I performed so well despite some initial challenges with my group. It was also a great feeling being chosen for some projects by the Legal Advice Clinic and meeting Lord Lloyd-Jones, a Supreme Court Justice! Some of my best moments are also otherwise ordinary everyday events like making good friends on my course with students from all over the world, sharing fun moments and academic challenges together.
From the very first day of induction, I got the sense that this was a crop of lecturers who genuinely cared about their students and were invested in our success. Coming from a different cultural background, it was initially a shock to be on first name terms with lecturers! In terms of support, lecturers had an open-door policy, and this continued virtually when we started learning online. No question was considered stupid or no concern irrelevant, as all lecturers were proactive in addressing our academic and even personal challenges. It was completely normal to have a coffee with lecturers at Crawshays (pre-COVID) and share a laugh even while studying sometimes complicated legal concepts.
Lecturers invested a lot of time in giving adequate guidance for all assessments, ensuring that everyone understood what was expected. They were also committed to giving comprehensive feedback on performances which I must say helped me do better in subsequent assessments. Even where grades didn’t turn out as expected, we always had nothing but generous encouragement and kind critique from them. They were all a unique blend of expertise and unique personalities which meant that every module was well-delivered with generous doses of each lecturer’s professional background and personal experiences. My lecturers made it easy to personally connect with them while maintaining their professional capacities. I can confidently say that I would have performed nowhere near as well as I have if I did not have the constant support, encouragement, and camaraderie of my lecturers.
The Legal Advice Clinic is a wonderful attraction of the course as it’s an environment where practical skills can be developed under supervision. After learning about the different projects that the Clinic had on offer, I enthusiastically volunteered to participate in some of them. I participated in Streetlaw which is a public legal education project at the Cardiff Employment Tribunal. Following training on employment law and Tribunal procedure, students present monthly to members of the public who are representing themselves at an upcoming or ongoing hearing.
I also participated in a national Client Interviewing Competition which featured universities across England and Wales. While we didn’t win, it was such a good way to gain experience in client handling and communication skills with clients. In my final year, as part of a module, I undertook a 12-week placement at the Clinic. Here, I really got to grips with different areas of law, learned to interview real clients, conduct practical research, and draft letters of advice. I also got to write an extended reflective piece detailing in-depth how I developed core legal skills such as communication, research, writing, teamwork, interpersonal skills and confidence. These are skills that are highly valued by law firms, chambers, and non-legal organisations.
Overall, my experiences at the Clinic were an excellent complement to my academic legal studies as I gained real professional skills in a setting where I could make mistakes and receive guided corrections. It was also an opportunity to connect with and serve the local community as I dealt with real people having real problems and needing access to justice.
Yes, I do feel like developing students’ employability is part of the design of the course. For example, in the first year, I undertook a legal skills module that featured sessions on writing CVs and covering letters. Also, the school has links with a lot of local firms and there were constant advertisements of job opportunities through the lecturers. Furthermore, there is a dedicated legal careers advisor who I personally used several times for guidance on writing applications and conducting mock interviews.
The Legal Advice Clinic was for me perhaps the best forum for the development of my employability as I learned real practical skills which proved invaluable additions to my CV. In fact, shortly after my final exams, I secured a short placement at a legal charity called Advocate (the Bar pro-bono unit). During the interview, virtually all the examples I used to evidence my competencies were from my activities at the Legal Advice Clinic.
I would advise any students wishing to study the course to come curious and open-minded, willing to learn. I would tell them not to listen too much to people who say the law is difficult, rather it is one of the most interesting subjects anyone could study. I would advise that students engage with the course, there’s so much on offer and so much support available from the lecturers. Always ask questions, there are no stupid questions at this law school and lecturers are always eager to give answers or signpost where appropriate.
Also, I would advise taking part in the Legal Clinic’s activities. Whether or not you want to practice law afterwards, it’s an invaluable environment to learn practical skills that are transferable to most roles and even self-employment.