Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

School of Law

Simon Coates

Law with Australian Legal Studies | 2007 - 2011

Photo of Simon Coates

About me

I was born and raised in Lancashire and I am ashamedly a Blackburn Rovers supporter.
I took a rather unorthodox route into studying law. I decided after my GCSE's that I wanted to go on and read medicine at university and so decided to study all three sciences and history to A-level. However, I decided that medicine wasn't really the right fit about half way through my AS-levels and was enjoying history, which allowed scope to be more creative with reasoning, analysis and critique, much more. Having read into what studying law would involve, it seemed a more natural fit and would enable me to develop those aspects of my studies that I had enjoyed to that point.
I am now a trainee solicitor with Allen & Overy LLP working in the Banking group.

Why I chose to study law at Leeds

I visited Leeds on an open day during Lower Sixth and absolutely fell in love with the place. It seemed like a really thriving place to study, play sport, socialise and make new friends. To my mind, this was the perfect place to achieve the balance between working hard and getting the most out of your studies and really enjoying everything else university-life has to offer. It seemed a lot less 'stuffy' than some of the other universities I visited (without naming names) and the lecturers that I spoke to seemed very friendly and approachable.

Studying law at Leeds granted me a lot of independence and required me to take responsibility for my  own learning. This appealed to me an awful lot. While the lecturers were always on hand to field questions and help if I was struggling, they always encouraged me to challenge ideas and delve deeper into my enquiries. I find that you can only become passionate about something when you are really pushed and strive not to regurgitate what you are told but to always question the view promoted by one strand of reasoning. This, coupled with the fact that the law is never stagnant, made me passionate about the study of the law.

I always thought that studying law was akin to learning to surf as opposed to learning to ski. With law, not only do you have to master the art of keeping your balance, the whole subject matter is constantly moving and changing beneath you. I should add that I can neither surf nor ski, so apologies if this is rather a weak analogy!

Studying abroad

I decided to study abroad because I thought it would add an extra dimension to my degree and make me stand out in a large pool of people with an excellent set of academics. Additionally, the opportunities that open in terms of life-experience cannot be understated. There were excellent opportunities to travel, meet new people and become properly immersed in a different culture. The reality is that graduates are emerging into a very harsh economy and I viewed studying abroad as being an excellent way to spend some time travelling while at the same time adding value and experience to any job application. I went to Monash University in Melbourne, Australia.

I studied a lot of international law-based units with an emphasis on their application in Australia. This included studying human rights protection in Australian law, which is particularly pertinent in a country with such a large indigenous population. This was absolutely fascinating and this is one example of being able to learn something that I simply would not have been able to otherwise. I would urge anyone to read about the stolen generations.

Overall I enjoyed the travel, the weather and the challenge of studying law in a completely alien jurisdiction. Upon reflection, the most important lesson learned was from a personal point of view. It was a huge step outside of my comfort zone and to become settled and succeed in my studies was a very steep learning curve!

How study abroad has helped since graduating and in my current role

I absolutely cannot stress how beneficial this year has been to me. I now work for a hugely international law firm in Allen & Overy and rarely requires advice from just one jurisdiction. I consider it a big help that I have had the experience of learning about the nuances of a completely different legal system in my day-to-day work. I am also of the view that the world is being made smaller by the day by the increasingly international market-place and the way businesses are run. Consequently, in whatever direction my career takes in the future, it is not only going to be desirable to be flexible and prepared to travel, it is going to be an absolute necessity. I would definitely reccommend studying abroad!

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