Evelyn Ofori-Koree Esq, alumna, Law LLB HonsEvelyn managed to work alongside her full-time degree and is now Vice-Chair of the Ethnic Minority Lawyers Division and the Director at Descartes Solicitors
Finding LSBU was a bit of a fluke
A work colleague had asked me to accompany her to an ‘Open Day’. There, the conversations I had with administrators and students about the university convinced me that LSBU would meet both my academic and pastoral needs as a mature student, so I enrolled on the LLB degree course.
Full-time student and worker
Although I was a full-time student, I also worked three nights a week as a Healthcare Assistant.
This meant having to maximise all my time and use all of the resources available to me from the LSBU library. For additional support, I was also member of several study groups. Nevertheless, I felt it was important to engage in law-related extra-curricular activities, including internal and external mooting competitions, work experience at the Southward Mediation Centre, mini-pupillages, and clerking at a law firm. I was also part of the editorial team and contributor that published a law magazine “The Brief”. I was a busy student.
Almost every lecturer and fellow student I encountered at LSBU inspired me and helped nurture the very positive experience I had. A number of lecturers stand out - Caron Thatcher, Dr Michael Rodney, Andy Unger, Jeffery Lever, Louise Andronicou, Michael Molan, Chris Shepherd, Katherine Stylianou and Gaye Moran who all supported me. I have also kept in touch with a number of fellow students who were as supportive and are all now successful lawyers including Hina Rai, who was also recently appointed a judge.
I am a firm believer in peer support, and my most influential relationships have been those formed at various stages of my academic and professional life.
On leaving LSBU, and with the encouragement and support of Dr Michael Rodney, I applied for and was successfully awarded a Wolfson Scholarship from Lincoln’s Inn.
Therefore, I completed a full-time BPTC (Bar Professional Training course) at City University, and a full-time LLM at the University of Cambridge. Although I had academic successes and extensive legal and non-legal work experience, the networks that I developed whilst at LSBU were crucial during my employment search, and ultimately securing my initial employment.
Having entered education in the UK as an international student from a different cultural background, I struggled with the so-called “imposter syndrome” which still rears its ugly head from time to time. In a conscious effort to overcome this. I regularly set career goals and work towards them, and continue to recognise that everyone deserves a seat at the table.
The Law Society
I have many examples where I have often let work stress prevent me from engaging in wider professional matters. Almost 6 years ago, I began to set small goals to try to engage with my profession more. This led to my current voluntary positions on The Law Society, where I am now a Council Member, Vice-Chair of the Ethnic Minority Lawyers Division and also Committee Member of the Policy and Regulatory Affairs Committee and the Regulatory Processes Committee.
Opportunities and support
It is important to me to lift others as I climb my career ladder, giving opportunities to those seeking work experience, mentoring or information to support their legal career and share knowledge that I have acquired along the way. My firm, Descartes Solictiors, offers a number of summer internships, and through the voluntary work with the Law Society, I am able to support and implement a number of BAME focused projects and contribute to changes within the profession.
I would encourage aspiring lawyers to look at other areas of work, particularly government, UN and in-house opportunities for work experience and employment. It is important to appreciate that legal professionals operate in a myriad of settings, and not just in a firm or in chambers.
I am a very proud LSBU alumna and as I mentioned the relationships I forged during my days as a student are invaluable. I think it is important to continue to engage with my alma mater and share my knowledge and experience with others.