|Michelle Kennedy||Baker McKenzie||
(Senior Specialist, Global Corporate Maintenance Solutions)
|Sarah Moley||Baker McKenzie||
(Team Lead, Alternative Legal Services – Belfast)
(Solicitor Team Leader)
(Senior Legal Professional, Cross Area Specialist Team)
(Legal Professional, Public and Regulatory team)
(Legal Professional, Graduate Scheme)
The School of Law at Queen’s University has provided me with excellent academic and educational support to achieve progress within my legal career. From 2011 to 2014 I studied an undergraduate degree ‘LLB Law with Politics’, followed by completion of a Post Graduate Diploma.
Whilst studying and receiving teaching from leading academics, I was also encouraged to obtain legal work experience. During the Summer holidays, I worked with various firms of solicitors and barristers. This fostered my overall legal development by seeing the practical application of the academic content I was learning at Queen’s.
Following my graduation in 2014 I participated in the Queen’s Brussels Study Tour where, as a group, we engaged with several EU institutions and legal bodies. In addition, I undertook a legal internship in Beijing, which the School of Law helped to facilitate.
After spending several years working as a legal professional in Belfast, I commenced my studies at the Institute of Professional Legal Studies in Queen’s in 2017. This course was undertaken to qualify as a solicitor, and since successful completion in 2019, I have been working for one of the leading law firms in Northern Ireland - Elliott Duffy Garrett. My work is in the area of employment law, and my role involves advising clients of all sizes in employment litigation, workplace policies and data protection.
The transition to the workplace was a gradual one for me and I was supported along the way through the skills acquired during my time at University. I would encourage future students to make full use of the development programmes Queen’s has to offer. In addition, do your upmost to refine your skills independently and think critically about what direction you want to go.
My time in the Queen’s University School of Law began in 2018, when I enrolled for the ‘LLM International Business Law with Placement’. Following completion of year one, I was successful in attaining a placement at IQ-EQ Investor Services, which I am still undertaking.
While working as Legal Assistant to the Head of Legal Fund Services, I am getting the opportunity to work with teams in various jurisdictions including the UK, Ireland, Guernsey, New York, Singapore, Philippine etc. These are challenging projects within this equity management company, but the experience has served to enhance my knowledge of international business law.
Initially I found the shift to the workplace challenging, but colleagues were really supportive, enabling my acclimatization - helped by the fun spirit of the coffee breaks! Reflecting on the placement, it has helped me develop drafting, negotiating and people skills, alongside the ability to manage priorities. Without doubt, I have really benefitted from the support of my mentor and co-workers, which I have genuinely appreciated.
My recommendation to future students would be to set significant time aside to source a good quality placement opportunity; they should start applying as soon as they can and seek advice and guidance from the University ‘Careers, Employability and Skills’ service.
I was initially offered a six-month placement, but I’m delighted this has since been extended for a further six months; my end goal is to secure a permanent position in IQ-EQ.
In 2018, I commenced my studies within the School of Law at Queen’s University, when I undertook the ‘LLM International Business Law with Placement’.
In terms of the placement year, I initially undertook a short-term placement with 'IFilm Bank Ltd'. This was followed up by my current and more substantive placement with Morgan Wiseman Solicitors (Luton).
This law firm specialises in Immigration Law, Family Law, Domestic Abuse cases and Conveyancing. They also have an international presence; in addition to their head office in Luton, they have two offices in Birmingham and five offices in Pakistan.
I commenced my placement in November 2019 with a three-month probation and training period, working as departmental Legal Assistant to the Head of Immigration. This lead Immigration Solicitor provided valuable mentoring throughout my placement phase, a period which I subsequently decided to extend. Initially I was responsible for the casework on immigration cases including preparing applications, drafting legal representations, preparing court bundles for appeal matters, liaising with Barristers and clients. As my training period came to an end, I was gifted with more responsibilities, including attending Tribunal hearings with a view to assisting the Barristers – all part of my advocacy training. Due to my Asian background and ability to speak multiple languages, I was also asked to liaise with the Pakistan legal teams and clients. I enjoyed working in the immigration department; as I was tasked with many responsibilities this provided the opportunity to further my learning, whilst enjoying the variety of the workload.
I was also asked to assist the Family Law and Domestic Violence teams as an additional responsibility apart from Immigration cases. I helped them in filling out divorce applications, drafting written statements on behalf of clients, attending to clients during their initial consultations. Recently, I was asked to assist the Process Serving department in dealing with their administrative and billing matters.
This placement has helped me gain practical knowledge and has really developed my client communications skills. I have enjoyed assisting the Barristers in the appeal matters and attending court hearings. I appreciated seeing and learning from various charismatic Barristers as they argued their cases before Immigration Judges. One of the highlights of my placement would be attending a deportation appeal matter in the Royal Courts of Justice in London and assisting the Barrister in the appeal matter.
That said, I have found it challenging throughout my placement period to manage the workload, whilst also progressing my dissertation research. I would strongly advice all future students to start with applications well in advance, and to give careful attention to planning and carrying out their dissertation research.
I aim to complete my course in September 2020, and I intend to explore more opportunities in core Business Law areas. As my student visa expires in January 2021, I hope to then attain a visa sponsorship, and continue my stimulating career path with Morgan Wiseman Solicitors.