Queen Mary University of London student Raluca Bianca Dumitru finds that striking the right balance between university assignments and building up commercial awareness is the most demanding aspect of studying law.
Name: Raluca Bianca Dumitru
A-levels: Romanian Baccalaureate – English, French, History, Philosophy, Romanian
Degree: English and European Law LLB
University: Queen Mary University of London, Université Panthéon-Assas, Paris II
Hobbies: Reading, collecting fashion magazines
Why did you want to study law at university? I chose law when I was 17 years old, a time when this was the most attractive alternative to studying international politics. Seeing how politics was being conducted at a national level in my native country, I decided to pursue a more technical and less controversial future profession. Law was the most academically challenging and human-centered subject that I thought would suit me. And these past few years have been a confirmation that this was the right choice.
What is the most difficult aspect of studying law? I think that finding the discipline needed to study law is the trickiest part. It is challenging to constantly do the (sometimes never-ending) work assigned at university while building up commercial awareness or simply keeping in touch with the latest news. Finding the right balance between these activities is certainly demanding.
What is the best part of studying law? Seeing that even the slightest academic detail can find its way in the real world of legal practice is certainly an attractive aspect of studying law. However, I would say that the best part of studying English law is the case law, real life examples that facilitate the understanding of legal concepts. While I studied civil law in France I certainly missed that.
What do you know now about pursuing a career in law that you wish you knew when you were doing your A-levels? In my first year of study I wished I had known more about the GDL and the conversion course. At this stage in my academic career I wish I read more about the practical steps law graduates need to take in order to qualify.
What are your career goals? I would like to qualify as a solicitor and practice in a commercial law firm large enough to be able to offer me good career prospects based on international exposure, a highly sought-after client base, and also a friendly and open work culture. I suppose the majority of law students would like to become respected professionals, recognized in their fields as leading experts. I make no exception by being one of them.
What work experience have you gained in recent years and what have you learnt from it? In high school I volunteered for many organisations, working for the Women Penitentiary or the School for Children with special needs. This is how I learned about tolerance and genuine desire to do your work well in order to help someone in need. Having enjoyed these experiences, in university I became a student adviser for the Queen Mary Legal Advice Centre, advising clients who cannot afford paid legal services. Communication, client interview and research skills are just some of the things that this position taught me. I also worked for 2 months in a niche law firm in London and then tried to get the most out of a two-week placement with a respected American law firm in the City. I had the opportunity to meet excellent professionals, who explained to me how important it is at a junior level to pay attention to details, meet deadlines and knock on as many doors as possible. I learned that at this stage in my career I should not be afraid to ask questions when in doubt or speak up when I can support an opinion with sensible arguments. I am positive that I will develop these skills during my upcoming collaboration with a highly-regarded English law firm.
What tips would you give to someone who is planning to pursue a career in law? I would personally say that having an open mind and being aware of all the available opportunities would be a top priority for someone thinking of pursuing a legal career. In my view, it is not all about the C.V. It is about growing up as a well-rounded individual, learning from the early stages what communication, attention to detail and desire to succeed mean. All of these can be achieved not only through work placements in the legal industry, but also through playing sports, volunteering or simply going on exchange programmes. This type of attitude could prove helpful in shaping a rewarding legal career.
What is the biggest misconception about the legal profession? I believe many people think lawyers would stop at nothing to achieve the desired outcome. While it is undeniable that any professional would like to provide the best outcome for the client, I would say that, above all interests, there is the law, the one thing I would like to serve my entire career.