Get to know me – Rachel Telford
I originally became interested in law due to the humanitarian work that I had been involved in, in Romania. This sparked an interest in human rights law. However, this was further heightened by my role in the debating society in high school.
Through debating, I discovered a passion for the art of negotiation and analytical discussion. This was something that led to my pursuit of the law but it was also a subject that I thought would allow me to make a meaningful difference in the world.
A major challenge came in the first year with the impact of the pandemic. This meant starting my studies fully online with limited interaction with my classmates. However, with this came flexibility and I was able to pursue several extra career classes led by Cathy Moore.
This led to many opportunities such as virtual work experience with Pinsent Masons, A & L Goodbody, and EY. I was also able to take up roles on the student council, as a course representative and now as the representative for the law school.
Exploring law was my most memorable class in my first year as there was often meditation involved and exploration of topics such as finding joy in law. However, I also enjoyed my politics modules as they gave me an opportunity to experience law from creation to implementation.
I was also able to experience tort law, criminal law, and public law. With class commencing virtually, as though there was increased academic support and further emphasis on networking.
Join me for a day and experience the life of a law student
7:30 am Monday is my busy day. My alarm usually goes off at 7 am. With it being the winter months I often wake up in darkness which comes with its own challenges. However, all that I must do is get showered and dressed for the day. From my window, I see the hustle and bustle of the city and hear the hum of the traffic. I catch up on my emails whilst I wonder where each person is going.
10:00 am Time to hit the road for class. This is always a scenic drive along Belfast Lough. Music is necessary to get you ready for the day and to get those feel-good endorphins flowing.
10:35 am When I arrive on campus I usually scour the mall for my friends. During this time we usually do some last-minute preparations for class and discuss our week over some granola and yogurt.
11:15 am My first class of the day is a contract law seminar with John Kennedy. This is always an interactive and engaging class. Annalise Keating in How to Get Away with Murder springs to mind. Whilst legal shows are often not fully representative of the legal industry, the classes in this show are closest to real life.
In contract law, we work right through from contract formation and terms to remedies as a result of a breach. As a result, I now find myself analysing every contract I sign to make sure that it is legally sound and fair.
12:15 pm After a brief walk to my next class, we arrive at our peer mentoring group. As a second-year student, this gives me the chance to pass on expertise and tips to the new first-year students. This week we covered referencing and the first-year legal research task. We are also on hand to support our group during the week through our WhatsApp group chat.
1:15 pm On a Monday I do not get a break for lunch so I often eat this on the way to my property law seminar. This class takes the approach of a mini-lecture or Thomas Murphy will create some diagrams to break down the content. We are often advised to collaborate with each other in this class.
2:15 pm My final class of the day is my democracy and dictatorship seminar. Again this class is often full of debate and discussion. It also gives a change of scenery from law and allows you to develop different perspectives. We are also given a much-needed coffee break in this class.
4:15 pm Hometime! At this stage of the day, I am often tired and hungry because of my busy day. As I travel home I either chat with friends or play some music to unwind after a long and challenging day.
5:00 pm Dinner time! On a Monday this varies from soup and panini to chicken wings and sweet potato fries. During this time I usually relax and catch up with my flatmates whilst we cook.
6:30 pm I usually head out to a Christian Union event run by another university in the city with my friend Andrew. It is an opportunity to catch up with friends whilst making new ones. There is usually always music and a talk which is can often be challenging but enjoyable.
9:00 pm I get home from the event and usually I relax with my friends. However, with deadlines looming my friend Charles has come round to talk about our contract law assignment. This is the most productive way to tackle assignments as you have somebody to keep you on track or discuss anything that you are finding difficult. During this time we often take breaks for food or snacks.
2:15 am This is the end of my day! After a very productive study session, it is finally time to burrow into bed for some much-needed sleep.
I aim to enter the commercial sphere upon graduation within the areas of finance, corporate, or litigation. With this, I also hope to take on some pro bono work as it will allow me to broaden my commercial awareness and give back to those in need. It excites me to see what the future holds for my career and to develop my networks further in the working world.
A key tip for prospective law students would be to start creating networks early in your university studies. The first step in this is creating a strong LinkedIn presence and speaking to your classmates. Secondly, I would also seek work experience early on as it allows for you to get to know firms and get to know areas of law that you do not study.
With this also comes a further opportunity for networking and who knows you may even secure a placement or training contract with the firm. Finally, I would begin to develop commercial awareness which can be done by working in various sectors in your part-time job or work experience, but also through research or by taking up roles within the university.
I hope that the advancement of technology will allow the legal industry to act quicker and expand the services that it can offer. As we experience a global revolution in the approach we take to work, we can experience changes to our schedules in the amount of time we are present in the office but also in our increased availability to our clients.
The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated this but also created exciting changes to virtual meetings and collaboration. This really excites me and I cannot wait to experience the new legal technologies as they are developed.
If you are a prospective law student in need of any help or wish to join my professional network, connect with me on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/rachel-telford710
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