Siobhan Mills

University of Law LPC student Siobhan Mills pursued her love of languages before embarking on a career in law.

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Name: Siobhan Mills

Undergraduate University: University of Southampton

Undergraduate Degree: BA (Hons) French and Linguistic Studies

Why did you decide to do the LPC? I had my heart set on a career in law from an early stage but I wanted to pursue my love of languages for my undergraduate degree and then study the Graduate Diploma in Law afterwards. I undertook a lot of legal work experience which helped me to choose a career as a solicitor. After completing my GDL, the LPC was the next natural step to becoming a solicitor.

Why College of Law? I chose the College of Law because it is highly reputable and has strong links with law firms. I attended an open day which gave me a really friendly and collaborative feel from the staff. I really liked the fact that all the tutors are qualified lawyers who have been in practice so they really know what they are talking about and as the College of Law only teaches law, everything is really focused towards it.

I also liked the structure of the course and that the College of Law produce all their resources so all the material is easily accessible and understandable. The textbooks are included in the course fees and you get free printing too. I have found that the tutors are really helpful and knowledgeable and you can go to them at any time of day which is invaluable, especially at exam time.

Why did you choose Birmingham to study in? I chose Birmingham because it is such a vibrant city with a really prominent legal scene and high-quality work. There are a lot of activities for Birmingham trainees organised by the Birmingham Trainee Solicitors’ Society so there is a great mixture of work and social life. The cost of living is also very reasonable and it is not too far from London.

Do you have a training contract lined up? I secured a training contract with Wragge & Co LLP during my GDL.

How are you funding the course? Fortunately my firm are funding my course and they have also given me a generous maintenance grant to cover my living costs.

How does the LPC differ from your degree and/or GDL? Has it been a steep learning curve? I have found the LPC very different to both my degree and the GDL. In relation to my degree, the LPC is much more practical and there are lots more contact hours with tutors which is really beneficial. It is also different because most of the assessments are through exams rather than coursework.

The structure of the LPC is different to the GDL although the contact hours are about the same. The LPC is assessed in two parts: stage 1 and stage 2, whereas the GDL is assessed by way of seven exams in June. The other big difference is that the LPC exams are open book, but this is reflective of the resources you would have available to you in practice and I feel that it has prepared me really well for starting my training contract.

It has been quite a steep learning curve, but studying my GDL at the College before hand was a great help. There are a lot of sessions on how to learn effectively on the LPC so it does not take too long to adapt.

What is the social life like? There is a really good social life at the College of Law in Birmingham. I am part of the Social Committee which is made up of students from across all the courses and we put on several socials a year. We have already run three nights out, two quizzes and a winter ball! There are also netball, football and rugby teams so I find there is always something to do. The LPC is a lot of work but it’s important to still have a social life. Aside from the College organised things, Birmingham has lots of great pubs, cafés and theatres so there is always somewhere to go with friends.

What about pastoral care, such as the careers service? Every student has a personal tutor who is on hand for any problems. All the tutors at the College of Law have an open door policy so you can go and see them anytime. They always respond to emails promptly which provides a really high level of pastoral care.

I found the careers service invaluable when I was applying for training contracts. There is no restriction on the amount of appointments you have and the careers team are extremely knowledgeable. The College of Law run a mentoring scheme where you are paired with a local solicitor or barrister which is fantastic as you receive first-hand knowledge of what the legal sector is currently like and how to improve your applications.

There are commercial awareness talks approximately once a month which give great insight into particular areas of the law, we even had one from the in-house legal advisor for West Bromwich Albion Football Club! The College of Law actively encourages students to participate and attend these events and they really improve your commercial awareness.

What top tip would you give to someone who is considering applying for the LPC? I would say make sure that you are certain that you want to pursue a career in law, as the LPC is very practice-focused. It teaches you the essential skills a solicitor needs and prepares you for starting your training contract so it requires a lot of work but it is very rewarding as well.