Mature Law Student Adam on his Degree Experience
Adam left school at 16. After 10 years, he returned to education, is about to complete his undergraduate Law degree and has been appointed Deputy Editor-in-Chief of the Manchester Review of Law, Crime and Ethics. He talks to us about his route to Manchester and the opportunities that he has seized during his degree.
Life before university
Like many school leavers I had no idea what I wanted to do when I left school at 16. My impetuous nature meant that I felt college wasn’t for me and ended up working in the hospitality industry. I bounced around and worked a few different roles, culminating in being appointed as a public house landlord.
Whilst it would be easy to write these years off, I believe I learned more from them than any equivalent education. This period taught me about what I wanted from my career and what kind of work I wanted to pursue. Working in that industry showed me the importance of supporting the people around you and striving to make their lives and my own better. I’d encountered staff working in precarious employment, struggling with housing and immigration issues, and facing difficult family problems. As a manager you do what you can to help them, but it’s structural change that’s needed. I felt that undertaking a Law degree would give me the tools needed to help the people around me.
On completing my Access course at the University of Bolton I applied to Manchester. Growing up locally, I knew that studying at the University of Manchester meant something. I was aware of its historic roots in the city and the work it did in the region, helping to fight for social justice. It was organisations like the Justice Hub that meant Manchester was the only choice for me.
Studying at Manchester
Studying at Manchester has been the most rewarding and fulfilling experience of my professional life so far. Not only do the lecturers and seminar takers engage you and care about your progression, but they also push and challenge you to be better at everything you do. That strive for excellence naturally impacts other aspects of your life and leaves you a more robust and well-rounded person. In my experience, some of the most rewarding aspects of the University of Manchester lie outside of academia.
Working with the Innocence Project has offered me the chance to be involved in something beyond anything I’d ever expected. Helping secure freedom for a person wrongfully convicted is an experience like no other. You work hand in hand with experienced criminal defence professionals. You’re given the autonomy to explore your ideas and trusted with impactful tasks. In the legal world I doubt there’s anything that rivals the satisfaction and experience you would gain from being a part of the Innocence Project team. Creatively, Claire McGourlay has encouraged our passion for starting a podcast on miscarriages of justice. Offering us the full resources and support of the University, Claire has introduced us to a range of influential people across the world that are eager and keen to see us succeed.
The Legal Advice Centre and Manchester Free Legal Help Scheme have given me a platform to make a difference in people’s lives. Those without the resources to fight legal battles, those that the law should be helping the most. Advising clients on legal matters has been personally and professionally satisfying and it has allowed me to put into practice the skills I’ve been taught throughout my degree. I was accepted on the Justice Hub internship over summer and worked closely with the team. It is a shining example of all that is done well in the university. My experiences prior to higher education taught me what I wanted from a career; the Justice Hub has taught me how that can be achieved. They offered us countless opportunities, such as assisting on a Court of Protection case presided over by the Lord Chief Justice and leading our own legal advice clinics alongside lawyers. They genuinely care about their clients, their students, and their service. Through networking with them I was introduced to the Greater Manchester Law Centre, a place where I now volunteer to help clients in similar situations. Giving me the opportunity to further hone my academic skills in practical ways.
Lastly, I’ve been fortunate enough to be appointed as the Deputy Editor-in-Chief of the Manchester Review of Law, Crime and Ethics by the Editor-in-Chief Thomas Carter. In that iconic UoM way, Tom has supported me to produce excellent work and together we have expanded the scope of the Review to incorporate universities across the UK. It’s been a privilege to work alongside someone as knowledgeable as him to give students from all backgrounds a voice in academic discourse.
Manchester has nurtured and developed my skills and allowed me to pursue my passions. Every step of the way you are supported, given responsibility, and given autonomy. These trademark Manchester attributes allow you to engage every part of yourself as a person and strive for greatness. The education is first class, but in my opinion that’s just the beginning of studying at Manchester. You quickly learn that higher education extends beyond the lecture theatre. Facilitated by dedicated educators, I have been fortunate to have had experiences that have moulded me as a student and as a person.
As a mature student I was anxious about applying to Manchester. Starting higher education at 27 at such a prestigious institution there was a concern that I might not be able to connect with my peers in the same way I would have at 18. This couldn’t be further from the truth. I have made strong friendships with people who want nothing more than to see you to succeed. Any challenges or tasks I’ve faced alongside other students have taught me about the strength of character and resolve of UoM students. They want success for the people around them and just like the faculty will support you every step of the way.
Looking to the future…
I am gutted to be finishing my degree, but excited for the challenges that lie ahead. My Law degree will be put to use in the way that I had always intended it to. The social justice ethos of UoM was the reason I applied, and it has instilled that spirit in me further. Manchester has equipped me for whatever challenges lie ahead and has given me valuable experiences that will stay with me.