School of Law

Melissa Atkinson

LLB Law | 2014-2017

Photo of Melissa Atkinson

Please tell us a bit about yourself, your background etc?

I have no family background in Law however I always thought it was something I might be interested in as I wanted a challenging academic career which is highly respected. I initially considered studying Maths as I had a real passion for it at A-Level, however believed I would eventually end up studying the Graduate Diploma in Law. On results day I decided to go ahead with Law, which is what I had applied to study. I’m now extremely glad I didn’t change my mind as the School of Law at Leeds offers more than I initially thought.

What made you want to apply for your course and to Leeds?

I had done a small amount of work experience with a Criminal Barrister and had always found criminal law very interesting. This was one of the main reasons I applied to study law. My interests changed after studying the course for 6 months and although Criminal law is still interesting, it is now not something that I would consider as a career path.

I wanted to go to a University based in a city where there was lots going on. Leeds was initially my last choice however after visiting for the second time I fell in love with the City and saw how everyone enjoyed the University. It's really beneficial having the whole University on one campus and only a 10 minute walk from the City Centre.

What is it that makes you passionate about your area of study?

I would like to go into commercial law and I find it extremely interesting how the things I am currently studying are used everyday in commercial law firms. I enjoy having a deeper understanding about current affairs in a legal context, such as the Brexit, and being able to have complex discussions about these events in our seminars.

What do you think of your course so far – what aspects of the course have you enjoyed the most or are looking forward to the most?

I thoroughly enjoyed my first year due to the combination of enjoying my course and the excellent social life Leeds has to offer. However we didn’t have the freedom to choose modules of our choice, which is something I have really enjoyed this year. I have been able to tailor my degree to my own interests and choose modules that I believe will help me develop my legal knowledge in the best way.

What would you say about the learning facilities in the School and at the University in general?

The facilities at the Law School are second to none. If you do find something you aren’t happy with there is always somebody who will be able to do something about it. I feel like the Law School values every student and the open office hours which are on offer show that all the staff are willing to support students.

Tell us about your current placement.

I spent a week at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer over the Summer

How did you obtain your placement?

The Senior Partner who was supervising us graduated from Leeds after doing the 2 year Law LLB. We had to send a CV and cover letter to the careers team at the Law School who shortlisted applicants. We achieved places based on our exam results and overall grades for the year.

What does your placement entail?

I sat with a Senior Associate and Trainee and was able to look through cases they were working on or had finished. I was able to attend client meetings with a Senior Partner. We were also given tasks by the Graduate Recruitment Team which required us to work as part of a team and research Corporate Responsibility for a debate.

What do you do on a day-day basis?

Read through cases and attend client meetings. Communicating with team members to complete various tasks.

What has been the highlight so far?

Experiencing the environment in which I wish to work in in the future. I particularly enjoyed attending client meetings as I was able to gain an insight into the service offered by a commercial law firm with regards to what a client might experience. We were also able to have a mock interview session with a Senior Partner which was extremely valuable.

What did you learn about?

I learnt about how the firm looks to develop their business strategy during a presentation from the business development department. I learnt a lot about the culture of the firm.

How do you think you will be able to apply this to your final year?

The placement was extremely valuable in helping me write my Vacation Scheme and Training Contract applications. I felt the week offered an excellent insight into what is expected of applicants and I feel confident that I will be able to produce application forms which offer a good representation of myself.

What other activities are available for students to take part in outside of their studies, and which ones have you tried out yourself?

There are numerous societies available to students. I am a member of the Law Society and also go to Yoga classes when I have the time. There is also all sorts going on in the City which isn’t associated with the University.

What would you say about Leeds as a city?

It’s a great sized city to explore as a student as it is big enough to be interesting but small enough to know your way around. There is a huge amount of students in the City which makes it really enjoyable.

What do you like to do outside of studying?

I like to take advantage of the nightlife on offer! I also enjoy keeping up a healthy lifestyle (outside of the nightlife) so I enjoy going to the market and buying cheap fruit and vegetables and also running around the area where I live.

What would you say to anyone thinking of applying to your course?

Make sure Law is what you want to study for 3 years. I was lucky as I found that it was what I wanted to do after not being sure it would be. However, I know a lot of people who say they wish they had chosen to study another subject. Remember, you can always do the GDL so even if you don’t study a Law degree you’re not closing any doors.

What do you plan to do once you’ve finished your course?

I’m hoping to go straight into a Training Contract at a national commercial law firm.

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