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Bethany Jendrzejewski

Career Path: Senior Crown Prosecutor, Crown Prosecution Service
Location: Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

It was during my GCSE studies that I made the decision to pursue a career as a Barrister. I enjoyed public speaking, formulating persuasive arguments and working with members of the public. I had, and still have, a keen interest in law, particularly criminal law. I chose A-Levels that I thought would help me with a law degree. Law A-Level was not offered at my college, so I studied English Language, Politics and History. I attended Northumbria University as a student on their MLaw Degree. Following completion of my second year of study, I enrolled on the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) route of that course. I graduated in 2017 with First Class Honours and a 'Very Competent' grade for the BPTC. It was during my first year of study that I became interested in a career prosecuting, and began to look into joining the CPS. I wanted to be able to act as a voice for victims of crime, while also playing a part in ensuring that cases were dealt with justly. I also wanted to put the skills I was developing during my studies into practice. In the summer of 2017, I was called to the Bar of England and Wales by the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple. That autumn, I commenced pupillage (the required period of training for barristers) at the Crown Prosecution Service. I fully qualified as a barrister in Autumn 2018, and have remained at the Crown Prosecution Service since that time, becoming a Senior Crown Prosecutor in autumn 2019.

What are you doing now?Bethany Jendrzejewski

I am employed by the Crown Prosecution Service as a Senior Crown Prosecutor. I spend time as a court advocate, a charging lawyer and a reviewing lawyer. I have prosecuted cases in both the magistrates' court and Crown Court, and have dealt with cases ranging from low-level shop thefts and minor public order, to homicide, drugs conspiracies and sexual offences. I have also spent time working with the Rape and Serious Sexual Offences team. Whilst acting as a court advocate, I have prosecuted trials, sentencing hearings and remand/bail hearings, to name a few. As a charging lawyer, I am responsible for reviewing files submitted by the police and making decisions on which, if any, charges are appropriate. As a reviewing lawyer, I progress a large caseload of crown court cases towards trial. I find my job to be challenging, varied, and rewarding.

What was it about Northumbria that made you decide to study here?

I chose to study at Northumbria for a number of reasons. The law school itself, in my opinion, is like no other. It offers opportunities, such as the student law office, which are invaluable for gaining first hand experience in law. The tutors are of exceptional quality, many of whom are practising lawyers, or have previously practised law, and are experts in their field. The focus on the practical side of legal study was one reason why I chose Northumbria, given that my goal was to become a practising lawyer myself. The University on a wider scale, and Newcastle as a city, is a friendly, safe and engaging place to be. At Northumbria I felt there were numerous opportunities to have a well-rounded university experience. There was a large number of student societies (both law-based and non-law based) and sports clubs, and an active students' union. These factors meant that my time at Northumbria would involve more than just study.

What was it like studying at Northumbria?

I wholeheartedly enjoyed my time studying at Northumbria. I felt that there was a good balance of larger lectures, smaller seminars and practical lessons such as advocacy. There were opportunities to work on team projects and assignments, as well as conduct individual learning. The feedback was always constructive and well-communicated, and I felt that the way that work would be marked was always made very clear from the outset, as there were ways to improve performance. I found that the teaching staff were easily contactable and willing to make time for students to discuss feedback, study, concerns and even personal matters.

How connected was your course with industry?

I found the course was very well connected to the legal industry. The law school maintains close links with local law firms and chambers, which allowed them to offer work experience with such organisations to the winners of essay and mooting competitions. I personally was able to secure some time shadowing a Crown Court Judge this way. Many of the lecturers were willing to assist students with applications for jobs, pupillages and work experience, including by offering mock interviews. There were regular guest lectures by judges and practitioners, some of which were timetabled and some of which were optional. There were frequent networking events organised by the law school, which were attended by practitioners and people from within the industry, and these afforded students the opportunity to build connections, ask advice, and even gain work experience placements. I also recall that the annual law fair was a great way to connect with industry and gather information regarding potential careers.

What was the best thing about your course?

The best thing about my course was the variety of subject areas available for study, and the high quality teaching on those subject areas. While the law course had mandatory modules, there were also a wide range of optional modules available throughout the years of study, which allowed me to tailor the course to fit my interests and career aspirations. I found myself studying modules such as Advanced Criminal Practice, Legal History (which sparked an interest that I still retain today), American Law and Law and Literature. The variety of teaching that these modules provided meant that I remained passionate and interested in my course.

How did studying at Northumbria help you achieve your career goals/ give your career an edge?

The high quality of teaching and involvement from staff contributed to the high grades I attained, which are always important when pursuing a career in any discipline, including law. However, studying at Northumbria did not only contribute to my grades. The practical studies, such as advocacy classes and the student law office, allowed for the development of skills which make students strong candidates for practical jobs, and provide experience which can be referenced on applications. The fact that I already felt confident in my ability as an advocate when I left Northumbria is something I feel played a large role in my ability to gain employment in my desired field soon after graduating. Further, the connections the law school has with local industry were something I was able to utilise in order to gain work experience, which I then referenced on applications and in interviews.

Which skills/knowledge did you learn on your course that you use most now throughout your career?

I utilise my skills as an advocate regularly in my career. Throughout my course, I developed skills such as critical thinking, reasoning, and formulation of cogent arguments, which I also use on a daily basis. More simply, I developed social skills, through networking and through group learning, which I find very useful, particularly when communicating with victims of crime, and witnesses.

What did you enjoy most about your time at Northumbria University?

I thoroughly enjoyed studying a subject I am passionate about, taught by people who shared that same passion. The involved staff and varied teaching content meant that I remained interested in my course from start to finish. I had a great amount of fun at Northumbria University, both on my course and through extra-curricular activities. The campus always felt safe and was a great place to socialise as well as learn, and this allowed me to meet a wide variety of people who have remained close friends years after graduation.

What advice would you give somebody who is considering studying at Northumbria?

Northumbria University is an amazing establishment, very worthy of your consideration for your place of future studies. I would advise you to take part in an open day, explore the campus, and speak to people teaching and studying the course you are considering and listen to their experiences. I recall visiting numerous universities before making my final selection, and when I attended Northumbria I immediately knew it was the right place for me. I truly believe nothing can assist you more in making your decision than attending an open day.

How would you describe your time at Northumbria in three words?

Unforgettable, invaluable and fun.

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