I am a Canadian alumnus of the University of Kent’s Law School who graduated with a First-Class Senior Status LLB Bachelor of Laws and the first Canadian to complete the Bar Practice Course at the Inns of Court College of Advocacy.
I first heard about studying law in the UK from a childhood friend who had just finished studying there herself. Since Canada utilizes the Common Law Legal System, obtaining a degree in England or Wales allowed her to write equivalency exams back in Canada and then the Bar. I learned about the undergraduate nature of law studies in the United Kingdom and that they did not have a requirement of an equivalent to the LSAT. She also told me about the existence of Senior Status programs for those with previous degrees. This piqued my interest as a way to minimize the time required to get my law degree.
I discovered the University of Kent’s law program when looking at the various schools that offered Senior Status degrees. I was attracted to the city of Canterbury and the reputation of the University’s law clinic as the best in the country. One of the coolest features of the Law School was that they had an official mooting chamber which was designed similar to a court room. Having the opportunity to do moots and mock trials in this space created a realistic experience. The city of Canterbury, where the University’s main campus is located, is also on the high-speed rail line to London. This meant that I could travel to London in 50 minutes and easily access social or educational experiences as a day trip. Canterbury’s central location in the county of Kent, also allows for easy access to several seaside towns and beaches where you can take a break from your books and explore on a weekend.
Wanting to experience as much of the local culture as possible, I decided to rent off campus during my studies. Living in a shared house allowed me to make local friends and have a quiet place to study. It was amazing to live in a house that was hundreds of years old and made me appreciate how much history there was locally. I was able to take daily walks past historical landmarks such as Canterbury Cathedral and enjoy the contrast between the modern and historical parts of the city.
I studied law because I want to practise as a lawyer. It was through my exposure to numerous members of the Bar, who were employed by the Law School as professors, that I realized my particular passion was to be a barrister. These approachable professors were able to give invaluable insight into what to expect from the profession and how best to prepare myself for a future at the Bar. The staff also provided opportunities to practice lawyering skills through extra-curricular courses. My success in these activities confirmed for me that I was pursuing the right career.
In an effort to meet new people and make new friends, I joined a number of law societies on campus. These included the Canadian Law Society and the Kent Law Temple Society. Joining the Canadian Law Society has resulted in friendships that I still maintain with people across Canada. Both law societies had educational and recreational events such as guest speakers, workshops, pub crawls and even formal balls. Most notably, these societies were an amazing opportunity for networking. I was able to obtain numerous work-experience opportunities in England and Canada through alumni and guest speakers.
The University of Kent’s Law School also offered a professional mentorship scheme. On my mentor’s advice, I became a volunteer with a local charity called the Young Lives Foundation where I helped vulnerable people in police custody as an Appropriate Adult. This gave me an invaluable insight into the legal justice system, police interview and questioning techniques as well as the role of legal counsel. Working with juveniles in this environment has also inspired me to focus my future criminal practise on the Youth Court.
While most students return to their home country to pursue their law careers, I have chosen to stay in the United Kingdom. Upon completing my law degree at the University of Kent, I was accepted into the prestigious Inns of Court College of Advocacy, a bar school in London. Since then, I have obtained pupillage, a trainee position similar to articling, with the Crown Prosecution Service of England and Wales.
If you choose to study abroad embrace the adventure! Enjoy the differences in culture and food. Get involved in extra curriculars and volunteer. It is amazing how much you can learn and grow outside your studies.
Moving to another country is, at first, both scary and exciting. You’re moving away from who and what you know. But it is an experience like no other, and one that everyone should have if they get the opportunity. I’m studying at the University of Kent, which is in the historic Canterbury, only about a two hour bus ride from London. There is a lot of wonderful history to explore in the city centre, as well as many shops and pubs. It’s not that far from different beautiful coastal towns like Whitstable and Dover. There is also a ferry from Dover to Calais in France that is extremely cheap for foot passengers, so it’s easy to go exploring in your spare time. The university itself is fantastic as well. The graduate student accommodations are excellent, at Woolf College you get your own bathroom which is probably my favourite part! There are lots of places to eat, drink, and socialize on campus so you never have to go far. And of course, there are lots of places to study, so you’ll never have to fight for a study area. I’m studying International Relations, and one of my favourite things about it so far is the diversity among the professors and the students. Everyone has different backgrounds and brings different perspectives to the classes, which makes it more rewarding. While it is always more expensive to be an international student, you definitely get your moneys’ worth in education. There are also services to help international students find part time jobs if you need one. Across The Pond helped me to figure out if going to another country to do my Master's was for me. They help with the planning, the actual application, and the steps that it will take you to move to another country. The support they give you, especially with the visa applications, is invaluable. I’m not sure I would have even bothered to apply if it wasn’t for them! Once you get to the university though, it is up to you to make the most of it. If I could give one piece of advice to prospective students that are about to go aboard, I would say make sure you attend every welcome event that you can and make sure to get involved.
I really do have to extend a huge thanks to my advisor at Across the Pond. You were available at all times, you constantly responded in a timely fashion and it's hard to explain how much help you really did provide. I think the process of applying to graduate school is very daunting for some people and something like Across the Pond is a great way of helping facilitate this difficult process. I can't thank you enough and give you and the company very high praises for your amazing work.