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Caroline's Insights | Dean of The University of Law's Moorgate Campus

Book open Reading time: 5 mins

We caught up with Caroline from The University of Law’s Moorgate Campus in the City, to hear about her role as Dean, find out about what makes The University of Law unique and get her top tips on how you can stand out in the application process to become a law firm trainee.

Tell us a bit about you and your role…

I’ve had a varied career, from working as a full-time law firm partner at Ashurst to sitting on the boards as a director and trustee of educational charities, to being a member of Council at postgraduate Cranfield University. Through this experience, I’ve had a range of roles including chairing the remuneration committee at Cranfield and being on the board of The Brilliant Club, a social mobility centred educational charity, where I lead the People Committee.

Now as Dean of The University of Law’s Moorgate Campus, my responsibilities are focused on helping guide postgraduate students through their professional and vocational qualifications and promoting strong relationships with the university’s partner firms and other higher education institutions. My role brings together my background as a successful lawyer with my interest in the development of young people and their successful progression into practice and the world of work. As Dean, I orchestrate everything that happens on campus and make sure it runs smoothly. Having joined during Covid, I’ve put myself into students’ shoes to ensure new ways of teaching are suitable for the current climate and are making a positive contribution to their development as they prepare to join the workforce.

What would you say stands out about Uni of Law as a Further Education option? 

The University of Law has many campuses, each with differing focuses, from foundation degrees, LLBs, Integrated Masters, to postgraduate Academic Masters’ degrees, law conversion courses and both solicitor and bar vocational qualifications. At present, teaching topics range from law and related technology to criminology. The University of Law is diversifying and more topics will rapidly be coming on-stream. Moorgate is considered our flagship campus, hosting the postgraduate degrees and vocational qualifications of solicitors of over two thousand students each year. Students only progress to Moorgate once they’ve completed another degree or their LLB, meaning they either come to us for a conversion course or for the vocational examinations.

We are mindful of the repercussions of the pandemic on the student population and have carefully designed a programme and services to support their unique needs. We’ve invested huge amounts into the student journey, providing state-of-the-art facilities, sourcing the highest quality teaching by academics who are also practitioners and delivering outstanding professional development programmes.

What’s important to note is that the teaching is absolutely first class, the staff have fantastic academic records as well as significant experience in practice. This industry and sector expertise means they can put things into a practical context and provide lived experiences for students.

The programmes we offer are fantastic in terms of not only looking at the output of exam results but their impact and the outcome in terms of students’ future employability. We want to fully prepare our students to not only pass their exams but also for life after graduation. It’s focusing on getting them ready for what’s expected of them in the fast-paced working environment.

What is the typical route to entry into a legal career?

It’s interesting because there are multiple routes for entry now. Some students look to go down the apprenticeship route, where they can sit exams and work to become qualified professionals. Many firms are increasingly sourcing talent through this method. Others study towards their postgraduate qualifications, like the ones we offer, and they do this in partnership with their firms.

There’s also a more traditional route whereby trainees progress through a 2-year rotational cycle to get the experience they need to become a lawyer. Trainees can learn a lot by rotating around a firm, changing seats and getting to know different teams. Under this route, firms hire two years in advance to allow partners and owners of the business to gain visibility of the talent coming through the pipeline. Having this forward outlook is critical in the legal world where change is constant and where there’s a need to shift with client demand.

What are your top pieces of advice for students on how to stand out through the application process?

  1. Capitalise on your career’s resources

Careers fairs are a great place to meet law firms, discover what they have to offer and find out about what to expect from life at the firm. You can also meet non-law orientated organisations, like the Government, who are looking to recruit people into their legal department, so go along with an open mind.

  1. Gain experience

Whether it’s taster days or vacation schemes, these opportunities are a great way for you to get exclusive insights into what life as a lawyer is like. Experience doesn’t even have to be law specific, volunteering or part-time jobs help you develop essential transferrable skills that are crucial to being a lawyer. Drawing on this can help you create a really strong CV and application, for example, you could highlight how you’ve dealt with customers, diffused difficult situations or effectively managed your time.  

  1. Be yourself

Organisations want to hear your unique voice and get to know your authentic story. So, think about why you’re passionate about following this career path and what’s brought you to this point.

  1. Do firm-specific research

Firms don’t expect you to be an expert on them but, with the limitless online resources, they do want you to have done some research into what they stand for, their values and culture. Be curious about what the firm’s doing and the direction they’re going in so you can demonstrate your interest and highlight why you’d be the best person to help support their ambition. When writing your application, use this information to create a bespoke and compelling narrative - one tailored to the specific firm.  

  1. Practice, practice, practice

Make sure you’re fully prepared for the application process. There are amazing online resources where you can practice similar tests to the ones you’ll face, and you can even practice interviews with friends or family. Putting in this work can help you feel more prepared and relaxed when it comes to the real thing.  

  1. Plan your interview day

Taking a planned approach, including thinking about practicalities like what you’ll wear, can take avoidable nerves out of the process and help you focus on performing your best. Feeling more prepared can help you feel more confident and empowered on the day. Plan your journey and prepare for unexpected contingencies.

  1. Prepared to make a good first impression

Consider the style of interview you’ll face on the day so you can contemplate how you’ll engage with the room and connect with your interviewer or interviewers. It’s also important to think about the way you conduct yourself throughout the whole day because everyone you meet will be giving feedback on you. Make sure to be friendly and polite to demonstrate your excellent people skills.

Has Caroline got you wanting to find out more? Take a look at The University of Law profile  to discover what the university has to offer.