Alex Louise Pearl
I am originally from Huddersfield and decided to study for a Law degree at Leeds University, with the aim of becoming a barrister. However, during the course of my undergraduate degree, I found that I loved analysing and critiquing the law; I loved reading about the law; analysing its strengths and weaknesses and questioning how things can be improved. I found that I loved it so much that I wanted to continue with academia and I am now completing a Masters in International and European Human Rights Law and really enjoying it. It is great to be able to specialise in whatever your particular legal interests are. I have just been offered a scholarship to do a PhD at Leeds and so I am sticking around even longer
Why I Chose Law at Leeds
Leeds Law School had a great reputation for the Law LLB, but when I first made my UCAS applications, I was still unsure.
Nevertheless, I decided to visit an open day to get a better feel for what Leeds could offer and what it was about. At the open day I really felt that Leeds would be a great fit for me. It has an outstanding law library and the facilities in the new Liberty Building are even better than what was on offer when I started. I really liked that Leeds was a campus University so everything is all in one place and you can really feel part of University life all the time. During my time at Leeds I made some great relationships with the academic staff. They are always around to help and support you and also happen to be lovely people as well as world-class thinkers and leaders in their fields!
Although I did consider completing my Master’s degree at another university, I really felt like part of the community in the law school and this was a huge factor in deciding to stay on and do a Master’s degree here (and also a PhD next year)! Another factor in deciding to continue from undergraduate to postgraduate study at Leeds was the huge variation and choice of postgraduate modules on offer. This meant I could ensure that I only studied areas of law I was really interested in. I found that the law school was a fantastic place for me to grow as an academic thinker. I wouldn’t be anywhere else!
My passion for the subject
I think what makes me most passionate about Law is that often there is no right or wrong answer. There is always a grey area, room at the margins to be debated and argued. I like to be able to form my own opinions and to try and back them up. The lecturers at Leeds are fantastic for allowing and helping you to think independently about what you are studying and to develop logical arguments that can support your position. Seminars are a fantastic forum for ideas and discussion and the lecturers really support you in trying to develop your own academic opinions. Another thing I love about law is that it is always relevant, whatever you are doing and wherever you are. I always loved the notion that law is so much a part of history – the enlightenment, the magna carta, the world wars. But at the same time, law changes and progresses with society – the internet, cybercrime, gay marriage. There is always more to learn and I like the challenge involved.
My Master’s degree has been really enjoyable so far. My main legal interests include; human rights law (particularly at the international level), disability law, and family and child law. There is a lot of scope to tailor what you study to your interest areas. The Law school often allows you to select modules from different course programmes if you feel really passionately about studying that particular subject. A great part of my Masters so far was taking a module called ‘Laws of War in an Age of Terror’. This module was unlike anything I had ever studied before and was really outside my comfort zone but the module taker, Anthony Cullen, was absolutely brilliant and it has been one of my favourite modules so far.
University Facilities and School Support
The leaning facilities at the School of Law and in the University as a whole are exceptionally good. I am a disabled student and so often need more help with access to facilitates and Leeds have provided me with all the support I could possibly require. The law school only opened in 2011 and so it is state of the art. It has a moot court and all the rooms have audio-visual equipment which is really easy to use (even I can do it and I am hopeless with technology). The school has loads of computers and a printer for students to use and the Liberty building has a lift which is great if you have mobility problems like me).
The facilities within the University itself are fantastic. The libraries are excellent and easy to use and there are always staff around to help if you have any questions. The student union has to be one of the best in the country; it comes fully stocked with a mini supermarket, bars, clubs, clothing shops, salons, even a games room!
As a student with a long-term health problem (CFS/ME), I have lots of support and the Law School has been outstanding. The pastoral care team have been incredible in helping support me to undertake my studies in a way that means I can balance my health and striving to achieve the best I can. Personal tutors are fantastic if you have any problems or concerns about anything related to university and studying. Also all the lecturers in the Law school have academic support hours every week, where you can arrange to discuss any problems or questions.
Outside of Studying
There seems to be a never-ending number of activities and societies to get involved with at Leeds. Everything from skiing to tiddlywinks. I have to admit to not being the best at joining societies. Due to my health, most of my energy went into studying but my Uni housemates were cheerleaders and hockey players. One thing I do like to do is to attend the academic conferences and talks which take place in the Law School and across the University.
Leeds as a city
I love Leeds as a city, and it was a big part of my decision to go to Leeds University. It is really vibrant and has loads of great shopping and lovely places to eat and hang out. It is quite compact and everything in the city is one place which I really like. The architecture is beautiful in the city and there are loads of things to do and see. Leeds Grand Theatre, the Royal Armouries and the Leeds Museum are all great for a day out. Also for anybody who wants to practice law, Leeds is a great legal city and the Law school has strong relationships with many of the big firms in Leeds.
My advice to prospective students
Do it! I started reading Law at Leeds in 2008 and have never looked back. My Master’s degree has been fantastic and I think Leeds is a great place to take your first real independent footsteps in the world. Leeds Law School is a fantastic place to study, it has some truly amazing and inspirational lecturers and I do not think you ever get over the amazement of learning from a textbook which was written by the person giving your lectures and seminar. As well as being some of the most respected legal minds in the country (in some cases in the world), they are also kind, down to earth, helpful and never more excited than when their student’s really engage with a particular legal issue.
My long-term career aspirations are that I would like to be a law lecturer, preferably in the areas of disability law, human rights, or child and family law. When I started University I was determined I wanted to become a barrister but over the course of my academic career, I have found that what I really love to do is to examine the law, analyse its weaknesses and argue for how to make things better. I think this sums up how much I have loved studying at Leeds – it has changed my whole career plan to something that actually suits me much better than practising law ever would. After my Masters, I have been offered a scholarship to undertake a PhD at Leeds and this will involve teaching some undergraduate classes. I can’t wait to start my next chapter at Leeds.