Beverly Sowah is a driven young woman determined to make positive changes to the world around her. Prior to starting at LSBU, Beverly ran her own full-time domestic cleaning business while also acting as a part-time carer to her younger brother, who has a disability, but she always wanted to build a legal career for herself – and LSBU is helping her to do precisely that.
"I wanted to work in law because of the opportunity it provides to positively impact the lives of those who need help the most, and have suffered great injustice," she says. "LSBU was recommended to me by a lecturer at my college, who was an LSBU alumnus. I arranged to go to an open day, and was impressed by the emphasis on graduate employability and professional links, so I applied for a place."
Upon starting her LLB (Hons) Law, Beverly has demonstrated the enthusiasm and passion that had made her such an outstanding applicant. She has been an active member of the Student Law Society, organising court visits, events at Inns of Courts, and even arranged for Baroness Hale, Vice President of the Supreme Court, to deliver a keynote speech at LSBU. "I'd become involved with the student law magazine, Devil's Advocate," recalls Beverly. "I interviewed Baroness Hale for it and it went really well, so I asked her to visit LSBU and deliver a talk. It was the first time in the Law Department's history that someone of her seniority in the judiciary had visited us, so it was a really big coup for us."
Beverly's dedication was noted by her fellow students and, following Baroness Hale's talk, she was elected as editor of 'The Devil's Advocate'. "It was great to be involved with," she says of her time at the magazine's helm. "I transformed it from being a Microsoft Publisher newsletter into a professional-looking glossy magazine that is also available digitally. I've arranged and conducted interviews with some of the most prominent and influential people in the legal profession, including Maura McGowan QC, Chairman of the Bar Council, Hazel Mears MP (who raised awareness of the Speakers Parliamentarty scheme she pioneered with the Social Mobility Foundation, Joshua Rozenburg, the presenter of BBC's 'Law in Action', David Lammy MP, Simon Hughe MP (the Justice Minister), Neil Stuke (the star of 'Silk') and Lady Gifty, the first and still the youngest black woman to set up chambers in the UK."
It isn't just the eye of her fellow students that Beverly has caught during her time at LSBU though. She has also worked as a student clinic volunteer for the LSBU Legal Advice Clinic, recently shortlisted in the LawWorks and Attorney General Awards for 'best contribution by a law school'. "I've been trained to provide free, face-to-face legal advice under the supervision of practicing solicitors," Beverly explains. "I also completed a few mini pupillages with Barristers' Chambers."
During her second year, Beverly was one of six successful applicants to take up a one-week placement with the Southwark Legal Services Department, with further success to follow. "I was one of two students asked back to complete a two-week vacation scheme during the summer," she says. "It was a fantastic experience with daily visits to court. I was allocated to various legal teams and shadowed the work of solicitors and barristers within the areas of corporate advice, housing litigation and policy advice, planning and conveyance, and education."
Free Representation Unit
While working at Southwark Legal Services Department, a barrister recommended that Beverly got involved in the Free Representation Unit, a charity that represents those who could not otherwise afford legal representation – and Beverly promptly did so. "My duties include taking instructions from a client, negotiating a settlement if that particular case requires in, drafting witness statements and other submissions, and representing the client at tribunal," she says. "With damaging cuts to legal aid, demand is high and the experience I have gained has enhanced my practical research skills, my ability to work in a team and the art of time management – which is essential!"
Now in her third year, Beverly has set her sights on becoming a barrister and has been offered an opportunity to study the BPTC (Bar Professional Training Course) when she graduates. "I hope to specialise in civil and criminal law," she says. "My time at LSBU has really helped me to understand precisely what the role of a lawyer entails, as well as inspiring me to work hard, stay positive and remain motivated in everything I do."