Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

School of Law

Helen Chamberlain

LLB Law with French Law | 2012-16

Photo of Helen Chamberlain

Please tell us a bit about yourself and your background

I grew up and went to school and sixth form in London. I’d always wanted to go to university and always wanted to go far away from London to study. I also knew I wanted to study abroad if I could. Before coming to university I had done a one-week sixth form placement at a law firm but beyond that had no legal experience and didn’t know much about what to expect.

What motivated you to apply to study your chosen course and why did you chose Leeds?

I chose Law and French because I really wanted to study law, with the hope of later going into a career in the legal profession (although I had no idea exactly what I wanted to do at the time!) but I had studied French up to A Level and really saw the value of learning a language and was keen to keep it up. I love the French culture and was excited at the prospect of getting to study law abroad and live in France for a year!

For me, Leeds as a city stood out straight away. I loved how the university is so close to the city centre and how vibrant the campus feels. I was so impressed with the amount of clubs and societies and other opportunities for activities within LUU. I also liked how modern the Law School is and how many extra-curricular activities seemed to be available to law students as well.

What do you think of your course? Have there been any particular highlights for you?

Throughout my course, I’ve really appreciated the balance between Law and French. Both require a different style of studying and a different way of thinking, so it has been refreshing to switch between the two during my weekly timetable, and during revision. I think Law and French gives you that extra push. It’s a demanding course as both subjects require a lot of work throughout the year, but it also looks really impressive to employers to be able to say that you study not only Law, but French too! The highlight of the course was definitely the year abroad in France; the first two years felt like I was preparing myself for that and now after coming back, final year feels more manageable having been away for a year.

How would you describe the help and guidance provided by the staff within the School?

All the members of staff I have encountered have been friendly and willing to answer any questions about their modules, and their exam guidance at the end of the year has generally been really useful. My dissertation supervisor has been excellent and pointing me in the right direction during my final year. Lecture capture for the classes that use it has been a great way to clarify points from home and some staff have used it to provide extra guidance outside of classes.

How would you describe the facilities at the University?

The University libraries are well-resourced, and the system for renewing and recalling books works well, plus the longer opening hours at revision periods are good. If, like me, your laptop is a little temperamental, the computer clusters across campus always have a free spot and are also a really comfortable and quiet place to work.

The Union is an excellent and convenient place to meet people during the day and socialise, eat or drink well for not too much money in the evenings. The Edge swimming pool and steam room is fantastic, as is the free Edge membership that you get in first year. I lived in Lyddon Hall in first year and it was great to be in the heart of campus, but I think whichever hall you are in you make friends and each one has its positives; they all have good facilities.

Have you had the opportunity to study abroad, or complete a year in industry? If so, please tell us about your experience and what you gained from it.

My year studying at Université Lyon III in Lyon, France was the best year of my life. I gained a whole new perspective on the world by being immersed in the French culture, and loved the experience of living like a French person. Being an international student meant that I met not only French, but also students from all over the world - and I made some amazing friends. I was fortunate to be able to travel to other cities in France and Europe, and my French language improved by so much more than when just studying in England. I came back feeling much more confident about speaking French and understanding it. It was really insightful to see how university works in France, as the system of teaching was very different from the style here in Leeds.

Have you been involved in extra-curricular activities, such as societies, summer placements etc? How have these enhanced your experience at the university?

In my first year I joined Revelation Rock-Gospel Choir, which wasn’t actually an official society at the time. It’s a wonderful all-abilities choir with an ethos of accepting everyone and being a choir made by the choir; in short, an excellent outlet for anyone who loves singing. Then, in my second year, three of us were elected committee and turned the choir into an official LUU society. As the President, I was in charge of organising the weekly rehearsals, arranging and teaching songs, promoting the society and holding meetings to ensure the smooth running and development of the choir. I developed my leadership skills, organisation and ability to solve problems, but most of all this role was so enjoyable because it was something I loved doing. Whilst in France I also joined a similar community choir in order to keep on singing.

After returning from France, I decided to take up belly dancing for my final year. I started beginners’ lessons in October and by March I was performing in the LUU dance show – a huge achievement that really made me more confident.

Finally, within the School of Law I have been involved in Law Society debating in both my first and final year, and volunteered with the Justice Project in my second year, which really gave me an insight into the criminal justice process system. I also attended a number of careers talks and law firm events hosted by the School of Law, as well as various guest lectures in different fields of law; all of which helped me make up my mind about what sort of career path to take.

Any other comments you would like to make?

Studying at Leeds has been a real journey. I can see how much I’ve grown academically and personally over my four-year course. I would advise anyone coming to the University to throw yourself into every opportunity that interests you in your first year, within the department or the Union or the city itself - you might discover some hidden passions and you never know where they will take you later on! And for anyone going on a year abroad, don’t be shy as one year will go so fast – use every chance you get to learn about the culture, speak the language as much as possible and travel and explore as much as you can.

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