Law and French
James recognises the importance of getting involved in co-curricular activities in preparing him for the demands of a corporate law environment. The business skills he developed in his role as Treasurer of the Law Soc – commercial awareness, negotiation and the ability to work under pressure - should help James in his ambition to secure a commercial training contract.
What do you hope to go on and do when you graduate from the University of Leeds?
Initially, my intention was to leave university, study for the Bar Vocational Course and seek employment as a barrister. However, since being at Leeds and after having participated in various skills based co-curricular activities, I have found that my main strengths are those essential of a solicitor. I therefore hope to take up a training contract at a commercial law firm in London.
What skills and qualities do you think you’ve gained from your course?
Studying for a degree in Law and French has provided me with, amongst other things, the ability to effectively analyse information, carry out efficient research and the ability to structure reasoned arguments. On the French side of my studies, philosophy and history modules have encouraged me to really open up my mind and appreciate different perceptions, views and opinions of the same subject matter. Studying French has enabled me to take a year abroad to study French law at a university (Nancy in north-east France). People wholly underestimate the value of studying as part of an ERASMUS year, but as well as fluency in a widely-spoken language, my year abroad has provided me with problem-solving skills and the ability to be tenacious; qualities that employers really look for.
What skills and qualities do you think you’ve gained from co-curricular activities?
I have participated in various co-curricular activities during my time at Leeds, for example: participating in the National Negotiation Competition, being invited to a training day at CEDR, undertaking the role of Treasurer for the Law Society, team captain of the winning team in the University’s BIG Business Challenge, selection for a residential Enterprise Workshop through SPARK, Debating, Sports… The skills I have gained from these activities have been completely invaluable; and skills that cannot be achieved through study alone. I have learnt to negotiate to a very high level, how to be organised and cope with extreme pressure as Treasurer of the university’s largest and richest society, how to work as part of an effective team and be an efficient leader, all vital skills for success in business. I have a real interest in enterprise and am looking to really develop my entrepreneurial skills, but there is plenty of opportunity to enhance your skills at university.
How will these skills and qualities help you achieve what you want to do when you graduate?
The skills I have achieved from taking part in co-curricular activities will, I hope, help me to survive in a demanding corporate environment. Not only this, when I undertake a new skills based activity, I always visualise an interview with a law firm when they ask me how I can demonstrate, say, that I can work well as part of a team. Having done co-curricular activities allows me to demonstrate these skills to potential employers, as well as allowing me to actually work well as part of that team.
What has been your proudest moment while studying at Leeds?
I would find it very difficult to pinpoint my definitively ‘proudest’ moment during my time at Leeds. But, what I would say I am proud of is making the most of my time here. I have taken part in as much as I have been able to over my first two years, I have had an excellent social life, acquired some immensely important life skills, as well as making life-long friends along the way, and being where I am right now. Perhaps my proudest moment should be for clicking the ‘University of Leeds’ box as my first choice on my UCAS form!
How do you think you have benefited from studying at Leeds?
I have benefited in more than just the conventional way, as most people do at Leeds. I am three-quarters the way to getting my degree – exactly where I would be now at any other university – but no other establishment offers such a wealth of co-curricular opportunities as are available at Leeds. For example, I have been able to nurture my interest in enterprise through SPARK at the careers centre; a completely independent business start-up advice and financial support centre for enterprising students, unique almost only to Leeds. Not only this, I have had the pleasure of studying at a well-reputed higher education establishment, in one of the country’s most vibrant and cosmopolitan cities in a strangely unique campus backdrop, as well as being able to make the most of one of Europe’s largest student city’s nightlife. Leeds really does equip you with skills for life and the opportunities are almost endless.
What advice would you have for students just starting out at Leeds?
The greatest piece of advice I could offer to any student starting at Leeds would be to make the most of it! Perhaps cliché, but it is frightening how quickly your time at university passes and it is so vital to do the most you can in the three (or so) years you have. As well as this, I really would argue that your degree is only 50% of what you will leave university with; for employers, it is there just to tick a box. University really is about maturing and becoming an adult; preparing for the world of work and responsibility. Take all the life skills on offer, and get involved in as many co-curricular activities that your timetable will allow. But, don’t forget to make those friends for life that everybody talks about, and just enjoy being a student.