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Jessica Carr

Career Path: Trainee Solicitor at Langleys Solicitors LLP
Location: York, UK

During my time in school I was torn between wanting to pursue a legal career and my passion for history. I had no experience of law so decided to choose history and chose to study it at Northumbria University as I was so impressed with their inclusive, ambitious and welcoming atmosphere. As part of my history degree I was given the opportunity to gain some work experience and I chose to do mine in the legal sector as history has given me so many transferable skills. After this placement, I was certain that I wanted to pursue law further. I had always been concered that law would be inaccessible to me and I was motivated to go into this career to help people gain legal advice in a way which was not intimidating, I also hope to encourage others to join the sector for the same reasons. I had always been a stickler for rules and now I gad been given the skills of preparing written arguments debating skills from my history degree I was able to grow my confidence enough to drive myself forward to enter the career path I had been interested in for years. Since then, I have successfully completed my history degree, obtaining a first class honours, and my Graduate Diploma in Law, also gaining a distinction and most recently completing my Legal Practice Course with Masters and obtaining a distinction in this also. After finishing my studies at Northumbria University, I obtained a job as a legal assistant at Durham County Council, working in the adult and child services team. During this role I was able to gain further legal experience and see first hand how lives could be impacted. Most recently I managed to secure a training contract with Langleys Solicitors LLP, based in their York office. Since begining the role I have been given countless opportunities to develop as a trainee solicitor and with their enthusiasm for progressing careers I feel optimistic about my career and look forward to qualifying as a solicitor in the near future and seeing how far I can progress in my career.

What are you doing now?:

I am working as a trainee solicitor at Langleys Solicitors in York. I am in my first year of two years training and looking forward to qualifying as a solicitor and furthering my legal career.

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

I had visited Northumbria University on an open day and enjoyed the enthusiam the students had for the University. The University was in a period of expansion and development and it seemed to be a very exciting time to be part of that community. I enjoyed my time at Northumbria University so much that I stayed to do two further courses after my history degree.

What was it like studying at Northumbria?  

Studying at Northumbria was incredibly enjoyable, I was particularly impressed by the amount of facilties available to the students. All of my courses had a mixture of lectures, seminars and team projects, the variety of teaching enhanced the learning experience. The feedback I received was always constructive, lecturers were always on hand to discuss matters further if needed, this applies to both history and law. The courtroom that we had access to during the law courses I completed were a particular asset to the University, and having been in court multiple times since, the practice I gained in the courtroom at Northumbria was invaluable to me.

How connected was your course with industry?

Within my history degree we had to do a work placement, as noted above I chose to do mine within a law firm which encouraged me to undertake the law conversion course. Within the LPC we also had to do a placement within a law firm. I was also lucky enough to be selected to take part in the Student Law Office, which again allowed me to have further connections with industry. There were numerous guest lecturers on the law campus, they were outside of the course but we were all encouraged to attend, which gave greater insight into the legal sector and since they were open to the public it was also a great networking opportunity.

If you took on a placement during your course how did you feel this helped you in your career/ with your studies?

I feel that the placements I did during my courses have helped me immensely within my career so far. As somebody who had no legal connections or experience before my time at Northumbria University, by the time I left I had two placements and the Student Law Office to add onto my CV and I could draw upon these experiences within interviews. I think having that real world experience meant that I was able to demonstrate a better knowledge of the field that I was hoping to enter into.

What was the best thing about your course?

For my history degree the best part was the variety of modules available to me, a large range of topics were covered and those that were beyond the normal scope. This was a real selling point for the course and something that I enjoyed during my 3 years. For the GDL and LPC the guidance and support offered by staff as well as the exposure to the real legal world were the best features. The GDL was a very intense course and the staff were sensitive to this and their support was a great asset. This support was also echoed within the LPC staff.

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

The confidence I gained and support I recieved at Northumbria encouraged me in my abilities. The confidence helped ke in interviews to sell myself to an employer which is something I had struggled with previously. The biggest edge my career was given by studying at Northumbria was the real world worl experience and Student Law Office module. As noted, I lacked confidence for my legal career due to having few legal connections and experience, but Northumbria gave me multiple opportunities to add to my CV, discuss at interview and ultimately land the job.

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

Through all of my courses the best skill I learnt was how to develop and critique arguments, whether that be a history essay or legal essay. I now use those skills to formulate a position for clients and then analyse and review that position and that of the other side. In my LPC I was specifically equipped for the job I am doing now and regularly use all of the skills learnt, such as drafting, letter writing, negotiation and advocacy.

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

Aside from my courses, I enjoyed the community that was felt at Northumbria University. The events put on for students helped build a unity between students. As a student who did several courses that were heavy with reading and research, I spent a lot of time in the library and very much enjoyed the facilities there. The availability of the library hours, books were easy to find and could be ordered and the staff were always helpful.

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

I would advise them to do it! Northumbria has plenty of facilities to offer inside and outside of your course, so make sure to take up as many of these as you can.

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

Supported Motivating Succeeding

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