Case Study - Ashley Christie

My experience may be a little different to many of those considering a degree in law. I never pursued the traditional route into university nor had I intended to pursue a career in the legal profession.

I left school during the height of the financial crisis in 2008, and opportunities for school leavers were few and far between. Higher education was rarely even discussed during my time at school. After securing a job with the British Army at 15 I lost all interest in education and barely scraped through my GCSEs.

After leaving the Army, I found myself working long hours in the catering industry and quickly moved into management. However, I then found myself clashing with my employer over general working practices (and somewhat liberal interpretation of employment law). Seeking a change in career, I put myself through evening college studying a BTEC in law, which was predominantly driven by my experiences with that employer.

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I applied to Coventry University among others during the last few months of my BTEC course. Knowing my lack of GCSEs and non-traditional route would severely impede my chances of securing a place, I attended an open day at Coventry and quickly made it my firm choice. I was ecstatic when the offers came through and Coventry was willing to offer me a place.

I quickly settled into university life and was astounded by the facilities that were on offer. I must admit that, during my first year at least, I often did question whether I had made the right decision. I often felt, from my peers at least, that studying a law degree meant a strict linear route into the legal profession. My concerns, however, were without merit.

The one thing I learnt early on was the university’s strong focus on employment skills meant the legal profession wasn’t the be all and end all for those studying law.

During my third year, I was fortunate enough to secure a placement with West Midlands Police (WMP) as a Special Constable. After a summer of training I worked full time for just over a year. The scheme was a UK first initiative and only possible through a collaboration between Coventry University, WMP and Coventry City Council. I worked predominantly on the St Michaels Neighbourhood team covering some of the City’s most deprived areas while also having the opportunity to work across various departments such as response, neighbourhood, offender management and traffic. I suspect whoever signed off the risk assessments at the university had many sleepless Friday nights worrying about what we were getting up to!

The skills and life experience I obtained during my placement year have been absolutely invaluable in getting me to where I am today. After a brief stint working for Shoosmiths Solicitors (predominately to see whether I would enjoy the work) I moved into the Civil Service. I first worked as a Customs Officer for HMRC before moving over to the Border Force, where I was one of only 70 applicants to secure a position out of 12,500.

I am still relatively early in my career since leaving Coventry but I certainly feel that I would not have had the experience or confidence to pursue my chosen path had it not been for my time at Coventry Law School.

Interested in studying law with us? Our LLB Law course offers you the opportunity to gain transferable legal skills and get career ready, with expert staff and employment support. Current student? You can find out more about alternative career opportunities and support by speaking to the Talent Team.

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