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Jacob - 3rd Year

When I left school, I never had any intention of going to university, let alone studying law. I went to a very average state school and then went on to study a BTEC in media. For a couple of years I made promotional videos and did some online journalism, but work was drying up fast and I was struggling with anxiety and depression at the time. Before I knew it I found myself in the local job centre wondering what to do with my life. I knew I had to do something to improve my prospects. I started to at last consider the idea of higher education, however I was terrified of the potential costs. At 23 I was classed as a ‘mature student’, I had rent to pay, and a step-daughter to help provide for.

I decided to take the plunge and began a foundation degree in law with Plymouth University. I studied incredibly hard, labouring on the weekends for additional cash, and started volunteering with Citizens Advice in the limited spare time I had. A year later I applied to Exeter and was accepted on to the LLB course.

I was elated and threw myself into my studies, which were certainly more difficult than anything I had done in my previous year. I focused on time management as best I could, continuing to volunteer with Citizens Advice, however due to the Access to Exeter Bursary, I didn’t have to keep labouring on weekends. Many other students have asked me how I manage to study, volunteer, and have a good family life (with my now wife and TWO children). All I can say is that it is not easy, but it is certainly doable. You need to focus on what matters most at any period of time, after all a high first degree is great, but employers are also looking for your overall experience of the world (not just min-pupillages and vac-schemes).

So, as I now approach the end of my degree, I am predicted a high 2.1, I have competed in national advocacy competitions, I now help train law students who come to volunteer at Citizens Advice, and am looking to practice Family Law in the South West. Those days signing on at the job centre seem pretty far away now.

For anyone wanting to study law, whatever your background, I would say this: manage your time well, study like crazy, take up every possible opportunity, and be proud of where you come from and what your experiences are. The legal profession needs REAL PEOPLE – JUST LIKE YOU!