I was born and bred in Weston-Super-Mare in North Somerset where I attended my local secondary school, Priory School and obtained 11 GCSEs. I then studied A-Levels at Bridgwater College, specifically History, Psychology, English, as well as General Studies. I then dared to leave Somerset and embarked to study law at the University of Leeds.
After University I took the Bar Vocational Course and qualified as a barrister before obtaining employment as a Magistrates’ Court Legal Adviser where I was able to advise Magistrates in Court on Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure. Whilst at the Magistrates’ Court I also cross-qualified and became a solicitor.
I am now the Administrative Court Office Lawyer for Wales. The Administrative Court is a section of the High Court that deals with challenges to the decisions of public bodies (such as Government Departments or Local Authorities).
The ACO Lawyer acts as support for the High Court Judges considering those cases by providing advice and research on numerous areas of public law. Responsibilities also include advising practitioners and litigants in person on the complex procedures of the High Court.
Until 2009 the ACO could only be found in the Royal Courts of Justice in London. In 2009 the Administrative Court Office opened Regional Centres in Birmingham, Cardiff, Leeds, and Manchester.
As the first and only ACO Lawyer for Wales I have also had the chance to be instrumental in setting up the working practices of the new regional Court.
My motivation to study Law
From a young age I was always a talented researcher and a keen public speaker. As such I saw a career in law to be a natural step for me. It is a decision that I have never regretted as I am always meeting new and interesting people and dealing with interesting cases.
The University of Leeds was a draw for me for a number of reasons. As a Russell group University it has a good reputation in and out of the profession. It was also important for me to be able to study away from home to be able to experience life on my own two feet.
My time at Leeds can only be described as a three year haven. They remain some of the best years of my life.
At Leeds I made some of the best friends I have ever had. I recently got married and I am proud to say that a number of Leeds graduates, who remain good friends, were in attendance. This started from the first day I arrived in halls. I was in Lyddon Hall and I cannot recommend staying halls enough for meeting people and generally having a great time. I went on to stay in shared houses in my second and third years with friends I made in halls.
My plan was always to qualify after doing the LLB. The academic study of law was an interesting course and it was a great grounding for going on to the vocational study. By combining the academic education of Leeds with the vocational training of the BVC I obtained the requisite knowledge and skills to obtain the career in law that I had always sought.
The law school staff were obviously leaders in their respective field. You always felt that you were in good hands whether in a lecture or a seminar. It’s also reassuring to see that some of the books on the syllabus are written by the lecturers.
The facilities at the University of Leeds are all one could want to study law. The law library is vast and contains every book I ever sought in any of the modules I took. Further, there are computer facilities all over the University, some that are open 24 hours.
The University also contains great sports facilities and, even more importantly, a number of inexpensive bars.
Summing up Leeds as a city is easy: Fantastically good fun.
It goes without saying that without the law degree that I obtained at Leeds I could not have even started out upon my chosen career path. I also believe that the academic and research skills I learnt at Leeds were as good a grounding as one can get to start out in the legal profession.
Top tip and careers advice…
Simply coming out of University with good grades is often not enough. Take every opportunity that you can to get practical experience in your chosen profession. It is also important to meet and talk to people already in the profession.