Roheema is an aspiring barrister and BA Law graduate from the University of Manchester. She’s determined to make a positive impact on the lives of others by practising law. Despite her initial worries about applying for law as someone from a working-class background, Roheema wrote an effective application and got into her dream university.
Why did you choose the University of Manchester?
I applied to five different universities, but I knew Manchester was one of my top choices. This is because I am from Manchester and felt it was a great city to study in. I also wanted to be close to my family so I could visit easily.
What helped you write your Personal Statement?
My tutors at sixth form were helpful, but I think the Sutton Trust Pathways to Law Programme was the biggest help. Their Personal Statement workshop helped me break mine down and make it concise. Then I asked my tutors, mentors, and barristers I had connected with for feedback, which helped make sure it was the best it could be.
Did you face any challenges when applying?
I think one main challenge was deciding on what I should include in my Personal Statement. I come from an underprivileged background. I am working class. I'm the first one in my family to go to university. I'm also an ethnic minority and I'm Muslim. So I wasn't sure if university was a place for people like me and I wasn’t sure where to begin.
What helped me overcome this was breaking down my Personal Statement into different parts. Firstly, I started off with an introduction on who I am and why I wanted to study law. Secondly, the main section was a critical analysis of a case that I read about. This showed how I would be an ideal candidate as being able to give your own critical opinion is an essential skill for studying law. I then discussed skills I gained from any volunteering and extracurriculars, and highlighted how the resilience and determination I have would help me excel at studying law.
How did you make the most of your time at university?
Going to university is not just about getting a degree – it's about the experience of becoming a well-rounded student. So I participated in extracurricular activities, volunteered, found legal work experience, and worked part-time.
Firstly, I was involved in societies such as the Manchester Law Society, and the Bar and Advocacy Society, and I founded the upReach Social Mobility Society too where I was President. upReach supports students from disadvantaged backgrounds to gain access to top graduate careers. To champion social mobility on campus, we created a safe space for students to share experiences and celebrate achievements. Being involved in societies helped me build leadership and communication skills which I could add to my CV and talk about in applications.
For work experience, I did mini pupillages where you get to shadow a barrister and see what their work involves day to day. These experiences introduced me to different areas of law and helped me decide what area I’d like to go into. I also gained experience at solicitors’ firms, where I learned how solicitors and barristers collaborate.
In my final year, I applied for internships using my university’s careers service. I managed to get an administrative assistant internship with the university’s justice hub which gives pro-bono legal guidance. I also volunteered at the university's legal advice centre. Ultimately, all of these experiences gave me the practical skills and knowledge that I would need to kickstart my career.
Do you have any advice for students thinking of applying?
I think research and networking are two things you should be doing to become a fantastic law student.
Firstly, it is crucial to research what a law degree is and what a lawyer does to find what you’re interested in. To do this, I researched the different types of law degrees offered at different universities, looked at the different course options and module options, and explored areas of law, such as property law or criminal law. (You could do this using the Unifrog Universities tools!)
Secondly, I think networking is vital as a law student. If you go to a networking event, don't be afraid to ask questions, and make sure you're listening to exactly what they're saying to you. Once you're able to do those things, you can create meaningful connections. For instance, by using these skills, I was able to connect with and impress a judge who then offered me a judge marshall position for the summer. During the marshalling, I learned what a civil barrister does, what road traffic accidents are, and how the court procedure works.
Good stuff from elsewhere
Sutton Trust Pathways to Law Programme
The programme that supported Roheema with her application
The charity that supported Roheema’s professional development while she was at university