Rebecca Walker was convinced she was going to embark on a career in medicine – until she did work experience at court when at age fifteen. It was then that she fell in love with the idea of studying law.
It didn't take long for Rebecca to realise that the University of Reading was the place for her: "I went to an Open Day at Reading and loved the campus. I think it was the Law School that sold it for me, I just knew I belonged there."
Rebecca takes full advantage of all the opportunities available to her within the School of Law, and has done placements and pro bono work as part of her degree. Her workplace experience was at Harrison Clark Rickerby's, a Reading-based solicitors who specialise in property law:
"It was amazing, as I was working alongside a barrister at Garden Court Chambers; a criminal chambers who deal with corporate espionage. Originally, I was interested in criminal law, but working on those type of cases has been epic."
She describes the placements as extremely useful in helping students focus their interests:
"In my first year I did a lot of pro bono work at the Youth Offenders Institute in Reading. There's a programme called 'Children Seen and Heard' which focuses on children whose parents or carers are in prison. I also completed some legal work with solicitors back home, which I doubt I would have been eligible for without my connections from university. Those experiences really keep the desire to pursue law alive."
"Twelve of us just returned from a trip to Strasbourg and the European Court of Human Rights, European Council and European Parliament to gain real world experience. It was absolutely life changing."
more than a degree
Sports, societies and trips have made Rebecca’s university experience even more enjoyable:
“Outside of the course, I’ve really enjoyed being involved with sport. I play with both the University netball team and the Law Society team. From an academic perspective, I’ve liked having the opportunity and flexibility to weave in and out of modules. I currently do modules in French and I get involved in their social activities and trips abroad.”
With the Law Society, we go away once a year. In my first year we went to Amsterdam, this year to Prague, and next year is Budapest. It’s a lot of fun.”
"I think there’s something here for everyone – whether within the Law School, trying modules across different departments, or an extra-curricular activity such as sport."
preparing for the future
Rebecca has found the staff at the School of Law are passionate about creating a supportive environment, and she highlights the help the University Careers team offers students:
"We have career sessions every Thursday. They are usually about something unrelated to law, but still a career that you can enter with a law degree, which gives us a wider perspective. Financial accountants , teachers, and people who work in human resources have all given sessions recently. The University Careers team is also really helpful in assisting with careers that aren't necessarily law related."
Applying for training places in law firms is highly competitive, and so Rebecca is keen to develop skills and experience that will help her to gain an advantage:
"I may take a year out and paralegal for a year to get a bit of experience. A year of industry experience may help in my favour and then I could try for a training contract in-house with the same firm."
"Most law graduates have a 2:1 or above and most of them can speak another language, and everyone has done pro bono work, so you really need something to set you apart. This is where the School of Law comes into its own — they provide fantastic opportunities for you to stand out from the crowd.”