Achas K Burin
I am currently a pupil in London. In the immediate future, I plan to combine legal practice with academic writing.
My experience on the LLB
I started the LLB because it was a career prerequisite for the Bar. I expected it to provide answers and satiate my interest in law. Rather, being at Leeds piqued my interest not just in law but in many related disciplines.
The LLB undoubtedly has influenced my career in obvious (and more subtle) ways, but the best evidence I can give for how invaluable the course has been is that I often find myself referring to my undergraduate notes.
Variety of modules
One element of my experience at Leeds that I particularly enjoyed is the availability of optional modules available from across the University. I did not do the Law and French degree, but over two years, I was able to complete two French language modules.
Some of the best friends I made were international students who came to Leeds through the Erasmus programme. Other friends of mine took electives in criminology (from the BA programme), or Spanish. I think you can even pick creative writing. It’s like a sweetshop.
The optional modules in law, too, mean you can really shape your law degree around what interests you (or, alternatively, learn about something that you know you will never practise but that you want to study). You never know how all the puzzle pieces will fit together, so it behoves you to look at as many of them as you can.
Student support in the School of Law
I came across an article the other day by David Pearce and Roger Halson which filled me with nostalgia. It seems inevitable that your views on the law are irreversibly shaped by the personalities that taught you.
Anna Lawson, for example, reworked land law into something like a Jane Austen novel; Adam Baker made it cool to like a geeky subject; and Michael Cardwell made it timeless by adding a touch of Classics along the way.
Nick Taylor ended everything on a bombshell (blew my mind, as a first year), and Norma Martin-Clement introduced me to the law’s difficulties raising children.
The non-teaching staff were always lovely and made the School of Law a pleasant environment to be in.
The facilities are truly excellent. As far as academic facilities go, the IT systems, including the VLE and remote desktop, are fantastic and terribly convenient.
I’m quite fussy about working in pleasant surroundings, and the Brotherton Library is truly beautiful, as is the forecourt area around the Union.
I have never since come across a library where you could eat and chat to friends (for the long afternoons spent in the library), and the group area of Edward Boyle Library is perfect for that.
I found the library treasure hunt during Fresher's Week to be invaluable for legal research. Embarrassingly, in response to one of the questions about the name of a defendant in a particular case, I think I put down the name of the judge.
Suffice it to say, I didn’t win the treasure hunt, but the moral of the story is not to underestimate the value of the faculty activities put on during intro week.
The Union itself is unparalleled, both as a physical venue and in terms of the activities you can be involved with, as is obvious from the number of awards it wins.
Being a bit of an environmentalist, it mattered to me that the recycling facilities around campus were good. You can even recycle pens in the Union! The Sports Centre is also first class and incredibly cheap for what it is.
Leeds is a great place to be at university, because of the number of students there across two universities.
In terms of entertainment and culture, there is a glut of things to do and quite a lot of them are free.
Even living in London, I miss events like Light Night. Obviously there are lots of clubs, theatres, restaurants, museums and pubs abound. You could, however, construct an entire social life without venturing into the city.
The Student Union puts on shows and events, and has a choice of cafés and bars. There is even a small art gallery on campus, in the Parkinson Building.
To ignore Leeds would be silly, though, and Headingley is a student haven, while the canal side is slightly more upmarket.
Shopping includes everything from vintage fairs to Harvey Nichols. Leeds is everything that a big Northern city can be, not to mention one of the largest legal centres in England. It also seems to care more about St Patrick’s Day and Halloween than any other city I’ve ever come across.
The dissertation is the thing I did at Leeds that has had the most reverberant effect on me since graduating.
There are few opportunities at undergraduate level to immerse yourself in a particular area of law, to direct how you inquire into it, and to work with a leader in that field.
As I said, the LLB raised questions and not answers. It kept me curious, and where I can’t find answers in the existing scholarship, I now feel compelled to add my 2p’s worth. Quite possibly the world is better off without the extra 2p, but I would never have had the skills or ambition to do it were it not for the module and my excellent supervisor, Paul Wragg.
Because law is very competitive, it can be tempting to follow the CV blueprint. Whilst you should obviously make the most of the extracurricular activities related to law available at Leeds (like the Legal Advice Clinic and Innocence Project), you should equally not be dissuaded from doing anything that you particularly want to do just because (for example) it’s not obviously related to law.