We caught up with James in Autumn 2019 in the City of London, where he now works. A champion of making a career in law accessible to people from all backgrounds, James also told us about his work with a leading diversity organisation.
What made you choose St Mary’s?
Many of my friends were at St Mary’s on various courses before I applied. I can honestly say that I had only ever heard positive things about the university; from the size of the classes and the helpfulness of the lecturers, to the extracurricular societies.
It was the relatively small intake of Law LLB students (as opposed to other universities) that interested me. I didn’t want to be just a number and I felt that in a smaller cohort you have the opportunity to develop relationships with your peers and lecturers.
How did you find your time at St Mary’s?
I would be lying if I said that university and my time at St Mary’s was a walk in the park, it wasn’t. As the saying goes, nothing worth having in life is easy and the same applies to a law degree.
Although there were numerous struggles, at no point did I ever feel that I was alone, I had a great relationship with my lecturers who always found the time to see me and answer any questions. The students were great and I often spent many a late night in the library with my cohort. Although a challenging experience, the support that I received was fantastic and I had a great relationship with all of my lecturers and would not be in the position that I am today without their help and support.
What have you been up to since you graduated?
I secured my training contract at Dechert LLP two months before graduating. Upon graduating I also took up a role with Aspiring Solicitors, a leading diversity organisation whose aim is to increase diversity within the legal profession. They run a national competition helping aspiring lawyers get work experience at leading firms.
After, I then completed my LPC, where I achieved a distinction in all of my modules, before commencing my training contract at Dechert in September 2019.
Do you have any advice for someone considering a career in law?
Embrace who you are as a person! There is a misconception that lawyers (particularly in the city) are these hybrid robot/humans who stand around the printer all day talking about the bond market and come from Oxbridge. It is completely the opposite.
I have found that being comfortable in who you are has real benefits in pursuing a career in law. What keeps clients coming back toa particular law firm is their ability to merge their advice with commercial understanding.
Also, take all of the opportunities that are afforded to you. Throughout your time at university you will be given various opportunities, whether itis a mooting competition, joining a university sports team, voluntary work or extracurricular events. Take them all, each opportunity provides an opportunity to learn and develop skills.