I chose Essex for two main reasons: the university campus and its student satisfaction rankings.
I wanted to be enrolled in a university that was not a city campus, so that not only is every single resource I need would be available in very close proximity, but also it makes it easier to meet up with friends and lecturers. True enough, every day in university I would run into someone I know, be it friend, colleague or professor – never a dull day.
In regards to student satisfaction, I was not aiming for universities that were high in the rankings for any particular category. But when I was informed by a friend that Essex was ranked second for student satisfaction, I knew I wanted to enroll in this university. I knew that regardless of academic rankings, each university will have impeccable lecturers nonetheless, and sure enough all of my professors and tutors were not only knowledgeable but skilled in their areas of teaching.
By extension of the above, the university has helped me a lot in developing my skill sets and personal growth. Through my lecturers, I have had the opportunity of taking part in national conferences, represented my university in two competitions and also have had the privilege to undertake judicial shadowing in East London’s Employment Tribunal.
In regard to academics, every single lecturer I had approached was very helpful, and was not afraid to point out what I can improve on for my courseworks. They were additionally very approachable out of work and it was very heartwarming to have your professors and tutors engaging with you in candid conversation and hear their life stories.
Client Negotiation Regionals
The University of Essex Law society hosts internal competition to determine which teams will represent the university in the Regionals held in London. It put teams of two against each other in mock negotiations to come up with the best solutions for our hypothetical clients. Two teams emerged victorious: my teammate and I; as well as another. When we were at the Regionals, we faced tough competition and although we did not win, we came back home happy and celebrated anyway.
The competition was my first actual engagement and collaboration with my university peers. I have had the privilege of working closely with my teammate, through doing so it was my initial exposure to opinions from people with an international perspective. It was an eye-opening experience.
LawWorks Student Pro Bono Conference
As part of my responsibilities as the University of Essex Law Clinic Steering Committee Member, I attended the LawWorks Conference held in Manchester to expand our clientele and get views from other law clinics in the region to add on to our services. The event was attended by law clinics, and also Joe Egan from Joe Egan Solicitors who gave the opening speech.
Apart from my duties as committee member, I was trained to conduct client meetings and resources to provide advice to clients who visited the Law Clinic with their issues. Common areas of client problems were tenancy, family and contractual disputes. The clients we saw normally were either university members and people from the surrounding community. Occasionally, we will outsource our Law Clinic members to other cities in Essex County to assist and provide legal advice on a pro bono basis to the communities there. In all of the client meetings, we will be supervised by a practising solicitor.
All in all, my university journey has been life-changing. Looking back, I could not believe I have had the privilege of doing the things I have done – unforgettable friends, lecturers, competitions, the variety of part-time jobs I had undertaken – I would not trade my experience in Essex for any other.
For anyone about to commence university or is already in one, my main advice is make your own path. Do not “roll-along” with whatever happens. Actively seek out opportunities and be a part of teams/societies/organisations you are passionate or interested in. The university is there to establish the groundwork, but ultimately it is up to you, the student, to make the best out of it.