Leeds Law School

Mature students with children can study law

When I left school in 2005, I went straight into a hairdressing career. I never felt like this was right for me, however, I gave it my all and qualified in 2009 with my NVQ level 3 certificate. After having my son at age 22, I slipped in and out of various careers and never felt fulfilled with any.
Leeds Law School mature student, Fiona Haigh, carrying her son.

I wanted to better myself and gain some new qualifications and began speaking to others. Some would say “you’re too old” and “it's too hard” - I am guessing this will be familiar to some considering education again. I listened to these voices for a few years, before I got fed up and decided to find out how to become a solicitor or a barrister, conducting my own research as to whether it was possible for me.

At age 27, I enrolled onto an Access to Higher Education course in Humanities and Social Sciences at Grimsby Institute of Further and Higher Education. My modules were Sociology, Psychology, English and Study Skills. I had 24 assignments to pass in 9 months. This was quite a challenge, as I had not been in education for 11 years. I was asked by a tutor what I wanted to do after the access course. I told her I wanted to study law. She told me I would need distinctions to be accepted onto a law degree at University. 

I sought additional help from the library's academic adviser at Grimsby and achieved 33 distinction credits and 12 merits. My heart was set on Leeds Beckett University and I got what I needed, I was overjoyed. 

However, being a mature student can feel daunting. For me, I was really apprehensive about whether I would fit in and if any of the younger students would have anything in common with me, or if they would even get on with me being 31, a mother and a wife.  As mature students we can be quite vocal in the classroom and we don't mind talking to tutors, this really helped me during seminars. Don't be afraid to be yourself, any anxieties soon diminished.

The Law School has been amazing. They have been fully supportive of me being a mother and I've met some great friends. I did not need to be worried about fitting in, because the friends I have met have all admired me for coming back into education and being a mother. 

Being at university studying law has unlocked my desire to succeed and made me into a strong minded and determined individual. The law school have some great opportunities available which you should make the most of. They have a great legal mentorship programme that I have had the privilege to be part of twice, and been paired with two legal professionals, each able to give me their time and experience. I have also taken up work experience at two solicitor firms through the law school, which gave me the opportunities to network and create lasting relationships. 

I have thoroughly enjoyed the modules. I recommend the Advocacy module and sitting in a real court room if you're undecided about being a barrister or a solicitor. For me, this helped me decide. Even though I achieved a great grade and the module was fun, I realised that being a barrister was not for me at this moment in time. However, when I become more confident in the future, I may go on to qualify as a solicitor advocate. 

I believe I have made the most of the guidance given by tutors and sought additional work experience at other law firms. In my final year, I completed the day release placement module, which I highly recommend. There is nothing better than hands on experience in the legal profession. I walked into university thinking I wanted to be a criminal barrister and I'm leaving deciding to be a solicitor. I've had the most amazing time and I will always be thankful that I chose Leeds Beckett. 

My advice is to never let anyone put you off going to university, you're never too old to set a new goal or dream. If I had listened to the people who tried to put me off going back into education, then I wouldn't be writing this now and telling you I just graduated at age 31 from Leeds Beckett with a first class degree! 

I'm going on to study the Legal Practice Course with a masters and I'm clear on my direction in life and what law firm I want to work for. One day I hope to come back to Leeds Beckett to inspire more students and hopefully be a mentor.

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