More about Albert
I completed a degree in History at the University of Sheffield in 2013. After spending a few years travelling and working, largely in hospitality, I began to crave a more challenging working environment. The Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) would open the door and provide a strong academic basis to a career in law.
Nottingham Law School offered a diverse experience, combining education with practical opportunities. The Legal Advice Centre, FRU and impressive career services make the university much more than a simple academic institution. I came to the university with minimal legal experience and have found ample opportunity to rectify this.
This course is a serious undertaking, allowing graduates to attain a qualifying law degree in a single year. As someone who wanted to attack the legal industry with rigour, I was attracted to the ‘fast-track’ nature of the course, which still covered all central aspects of the legal industry. Importantly, the teaching has been supported by a strong pastoral element. We have been consistently reminded that all the staff have their office door open to the students for any issues we might have. For example, upon asking a tutor to be an academic reference, she invited me for a cup of tea and discussed my aspirations and background for an hour or so, ensuring she knew how best to frame any reference she gave.
I was most interested in the GDL because it offered a clear and challenging career path. With an undergraduate degree in History, I felt a lack of direction and opportunity with regards to job prospects. The GDL offered me the qualifying degree to undertake work in an exciting, complex and fast-paced industry.
The pro-bono opportunities and career services at Nottingham Law School are extremely useful. The Legal Advice Centre was accessible and challenging, whilst providing me with the support of qualified solicitors during my work on real-life cases. My classmates have also undertaken FRU (Free Representation Unit) cases. The law School has put on numerous talks and mock assessment centres with internationally renowned law firms, giving students the best opportunity of finding employment after the course.
I have taken on three legal cases throughout the year with the Legal Advice Centre. It has given me invaluable experience of interviewing clients, researching legal issues and providing advice. I received useful support and direction from the qualified, personable solicitors who run the centre. The actual centre is just a few meters from where most lectures take place and therefore a very convenient way to get that extra experience, without taking hours out of your week to travel. I could simply pop in and out between lectures to work on my cases.
The facilities have genuinely impressed me throughout the course. From an app on my phone, which tells me when and where, all my lectures and seminars are, to a computer room on the third floor of the library which only postgraduate students can access. This means I never have to check my emails for room changes or waste time searching for a computer. These facilities are also extremely close to each other and well connected to public transport. During such a demanding course, time saving facilities and resources are vital, allowing me to concentrate fully on my education and job applications.
NTU’s Online Workplace (NOW), combined with the university app on my phone, provide an accessible and user-friendly portal of resources and direction. It has all lectures as recordings, in note form and the PowerPoint presentations that go with them. Towards the end of the year, this is invaluable for revisiting certain areas of each module that we covered at the beginning of the year. It also provides an all-encompassing space that allows me access to library resources, career services, printing services and many other useful sources of learning.
The GDL is not like an undergraduate degree and I have had to treat it as a full-time job. I attempt to attend university for a full working day Monday-Friday, including some weekends when essays or a client advice letter is due. Whilst I have worked on and off at a cocktail bar during the year, it is important to balance any work with the demands of the course. It is not easy to complete the GDL in a single year, alongside substantial working commitments.
My greatest achievements at the Law School so far are linked to my work in the Legal Advice Centre. Being able to research complex legal issues and provide pragmatic advice to clients is not something I expected to be doing, and excelling at, in my first year in the legal world.
I have a number of work experience opportunities this summer, including a two-week vacation scheme in London with a leading commercial law firm. I will await the outcome of these opportunities, although I am looking to attain a training contract as soon as possible in commercial law.
The course is busy and can be very hard work, which lends itself to a good sense of comradery amongst the students doing the GDL. The majority of the full-time year group go out for birthdays or occasional drinks on Thursday nights at the pub by the law building.
The course is without a doubt hard work, but at no point have I found it unmanageable. This is in no small part a result of the university set up. The NOW system and phone app, combined with a useful campus layout, mean that everything is in place to make learning as smooth and efficient as possible.
I would advise prospective students to take advantage of the opportunities provided such as the Legal Advice Centre or Commercial drop-in centre. This is how to separate yourself from the crowd in a very competitive industry.
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