"Graduating seems like the most daunting yet exciting time of your life, and believe me, it is! There is an expectation where you should delve right into the working world, make a good wage and that’s you set for the rest of your life, but sometimes plans don’t always go to, well, plan. In fact, it is much better than that.
As a graduate, it’s up to you how you want to pave the way forward for your career. I completed a Post Grad, worked a little, took up new roles that were available upon graduating and met some amazing people. You will always come across some challenges (maybe not some quite as big as COVID19) but there is always a way to learn from it.
I have been furloughed but I still manage to keep busy by learning a new hobby (maybe I'll be the next Andy Murray) and taking on a voluntary role. Although this wasn’t quite what I expected, I have learned a lot and built on my skills." Going forward, I start my new role in October as a trainee solicitor which no doubt will open doors."
To the graduating Class of 20202 - GOOD LUCK! If anyone is going to make a difference, it will be you. You are the future.
What are your long-term career aspirations?
I would like to practice as a solicitor and be recognised as a specialist in a specific area of law, but I am unsure what area yet. I would also like to devil in the future and thus become an advocate.
How will your next steps contribute towards your early career?
Over the next 12 months I will be working in a part-time role at the solicitors firm where I have secured a two year traineeship. In September, I have secured a place at Dundee University to complete the Diploma in Professional Legal Practice also. This will run until March. After March, I will work full-time at Digby Brown Solicitors in preparation of commencing my traineeship in September 2020.
What approach did you take to researching your career path and industry?
I have previously attended networking events that were sent to me from lecturers. Other than that, I researched myself on the Law Society of Scotland’s website and spoke to older year groups about how to go forward with my career.
How are you feeling about everything?
Nervous – I am nervous to be leaving a routine behind and starting a new one. I am also nervous about starting at a new university for a short period of time.
Relief – I am relieved that I can finally get into a good routine and spend time with family and friends. At university I was there all day studying and then working until late.I am also relieved that I have completed my degree. When I first started at University, 2019 seemed a long, long way away.
Motivated – Now that I have completed the first hurdle of my career, I feel motivated to get going into further study and then into my traineeship to apply my knowledge and skills.
You’ve now started your Diploma in Professional Legal Practice at the University of Dundee. You mentioned that you thought your biggest challenge was going to be keeping on top of everything given the early start and late finishing times of the diploma. How’s that going?
It hasn’t been easy. The first 6 weeks were the toughest weeks and that is to prepare you for the real working world (here’s hoping the real working world isn’t analogous!!). There is no tactics or anything to be implementing to keep on top, it has just been a matter of pulling myself through it and thinking what the end goal is. It has been extremely tough, mentally and physically. I must admit, starting at 8am has been much easier than finishing at 9pm. The 9pm classes are much more chilled out than any other tutorials through the day because the tutors appreciate it is long days and they are probably tired themselves. It’s tough being in long hours, working part time on my days off university and preparing for seminars, doing homework and assessments (about 2 per week).
Do any other people on your programme have future Traineeships confirmed?
Before we started, it was a minority group that had traineeships, probably about 10% of the whole class. But over the last 7 weeks, you often hear about people getting traineeships confirmed which is nice. Everyone is really supportive on the diploma and everyone roots for one another. I have made really good friends on the diploma and everyone wants everyone to do good and secure something so we all help each other when we can.
What have been the main similarities and differences between studying LLB (Hons) / PGDip?
I can’t say there are any similarities to be honest. You are treated so differently, much more adult like. They don’t mollycoddle the students in the Post Grad, they just say it how it is. That was quite a shock to start with but it’s something you get used to. The way of learning is so different too. One similarity Abertay has but not other universities is the way we learn. It is very practical based, like Abertay’s undergrad, which I think is good because the best way for me to learn is by applying it in practice. A lot of other students didn’t really like it at first or at least it was alien to them to learn that way but because Abertay offer so much practical work for learning, I found it very easy to transition over to the Post Grad.
You’re still working at Digby Brown part-time as a Paralegal. How did you secure this role?
As a third year Law undergrad student, I got to know my peers and made some friends with the fourth year students. My friend who worked in the role I do at that time mentioned there was a job opportunity and asked me to apply. I applied and within three days I was employed. I picked up the job quite quickly and I think this impressed them to move me on further within my role.
My main role is to give legal advice to new clients on their legal issues. If they have been injured, then we can advise further and determine whether to take the claim on or not. If it is not an injury claim, we can advise and refer on elsewhere.
Digby Brown has been a great place to work during my studies. They are very flexible and offer so much support through my studies. There are different opportunities within the firm to get involved in. I recently volunteered at the Spinal Injuries Scotland Annual BBQ in Glasgow where I represented Digby Brown and featured on STV news doing yoga (badly). In a couple of weeks I am going go-karting to take the title for best driver and I am also volunteering at the Spinal Injuries Winter Dinner Dance on November 8th in Glasgow to raise money for Spinal Injuries Scotland which I am really looking forward to.
You’ve recently come back to Abertay to participate as a Client in our International for Global Growth (IGG) programme. Why did you want to come back to Abertay and do this?
I remember how I felt when doing IGG as a student and I really struggled with the concept of it. I think because I know how I felt, and I mentor a couple of students in the current fourth year, I wanted to get as involved as much as I could. I wanted to help the students and show them that if I can come up with a business problem, they can come up with a solution and write about it. Plus, if they need any information, they know they have the support from myself. From doing IGG, I know it is useful to have the contacts. Another reason is that both, Charlie and Claire, were really helpful to the law students (who has no idea what they were doing in the business class and who were made to do it against their will) and Charlie had mentioned that he was looking for a law client so I thought I could help him this time.
How's the Diploma been going?
The Diploma has totally changed since the Christmas break. There is much fewer contact hours in University and there are fewer assessments. That is all because I do less modules. Last semester I did 5 modules but within 1 module was 3 separate modules whereas this semester I chose three modules and do one compulsory one. The compulsory module only ran for 4 weeks.
This semester is so much better because I got to choose which areas of law I wanted to study. I chose Advanced Advocacy, Personal Injury and Dispute Resolution. These three are all court or at least litigation based.
I have taken up a voluntary role at the Law Society of Scotland. I am now a committee member of the Rules, Waivers and Guidance Committee. Once per month I am to attend a meeting, comment on papers and approve or allow waivers. It is very interesting and nice to be working beside lawyers and other members of the Law Society. Needless to say, it is much easier to balance the diploma with work and other activities this semester.
Are you getting a flavour for a specific specialism?
Since choosing my own modules, I know I definitely want to be in court. I really didn’t enjoy civil advocacy last semester and absolutely loved criminal advocacy. This has changed this semester though. The criminal work is still really enjoyable, but I feel the civil advocacy work is much more of a challenge and keeps me on my toes. I also do personal injury and have really enjoyed the module so far. It has given me a real insight as to the work I will be doing for my traineeship and new role.
Are you still working at Digby Brown part-time as a Paralegal?
My role within Digby Brown is changing. am still working in the Legal Enquiry Team at Digby Brown Solicitors but will be moving into my new role in April after the Diploma finished. A new office has just opened at Digby Brown and I am really hoping I will be put there. I start my traineeship in September but wanted something more than what I do just now so I asked one of the partners of the firm and after some (LOADS) meetings, we have agreed a moving date of 27th April. My current role involves onboarding clients whereas my new role will involve me starting claims and taking them as far as they can go until they need to go to court. When my traineeship starts, I can then appear in court (after getting my certificate).
Alongside this role, I have taken on the duty of being the corporate social responsibility ambassador in Digby Brown Dundee. I am to regularly organise charity events, choose a new charity that we will support for the next year and generally just try and raise funds for them. I am really passionate about charity work hence the reason for taking on the role from its successor who previously left the firm.
What’s on the cards for the next 3 months?
There is a lot on the cards for the next few months. I will be starting my new role in Digby Brown for starters. In terms of University, I finish the course in 3 weeks and will be graduating in June. I also have a Diploma Post Grad Ball in April which is something to look forward to. In between finishing the diploma and starting my new role, I will be visiting my sister down South who just bought a new puppy. It will be nice to get a break before the real hard work begins. I have also signed up for a half marathon (I know, what was I thinking?!) and have been training hard every day to lose weight and get fit which in general has certainly improved my health. I don’t think it will go ahead though with the virus, but it is still something to work towards.
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Our postgrad degrees build on existing skills and undergraduate studies, improving your employment prospects or facilitating a move into research.