Hannah Short, alumna, LLB (Hons) LawHannah Short explains how the opportunities, skills and experience she secured at LSBU helped to secure a position in a top tier law firm and begin a successful career
The stereotype of all lawyers coming from wealthy backgrounds with a family legacy in the legal profession is becoming increasingly outdated as universities like LSBU open up this exciting career path to people from all walks of life. That said, there won’t be many in the profession who can claim to have started out as a professional dancer – but LSBU Law graduate Hannah Short can.
“Before I started my degree, I was a professional dancer running my own business for two years as part of an international dance group,” says Hannah. “It might not sound like a traditional route to a law degree, but this experience taught me about the challenges businesses face on an international scale. My particular focus within the team was securing overseas work, and I successfully arranged work in LA, the Philippines and Dubai. It was that experience that sparked my interest in commercial law and made me want to work with companies on an international scale.”
The right place to study
Hannah had a few friends studying at LSBU, and when they learned she was looking for the right place to study a Law degree, they recommended she applied. “They couldn’t speak highly enough about the University,” said Hannah.
I wanted to study somewhere I felt comfortable and liked the tutors, and after attending an Open Day at LSBU, I knew I had found it.
Even so, taking the step to accept a place at LSBU was a big decision for Hannah, especially given her family circumstances. “My father passed away when I was a child, and as a widow with four children my mother would not have been able to assist me financially through my studies, but I was determined not to let finance become a barrier to my future,” says Hannah.
Hannah applied to the National Scholarship Programme to enable her to study at LSBU, and was awarded a full scholarship. “It was absolutely crucial to my success,” says Hannah. “Not only did it help me financially, it gave me a huge confidence boost because I knew they believed in me and were willing to invest in my future. It provided me with even further inspiration to succeed, something borne out by the scholarship being carried on for my three years of study.”
Hannah ensured she made the most of opportunities outside of university to gain valuable work experience, with internships at Fisher Meredith and Ronald Fletcher Baker. She also developed her legal skills at LSBU’s on-campus Legal Advice Clinic. “I worked alongside fully qualified solicitors and barristers giving legal advice to drop-in clients,” says Hannah. “I began by shadowing the supervising solicitor or barrister through each stage in order to learn the process, and within a matter of weeks I was dealing with every stage of the process as an individual with the clients.”
There are other indicators of Hannah’s success too. They include the two law prizes she secured as a student, attaining the prize for the highest scoring graduate in her cohort, the training contract she has secured with Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer – a top tier Magic Circle law firm – since graduating, and not least, her First Class Honours degree.
Securing the training contract was an extremely competitive process. “Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer offer 80 training contracts a year, but receive over 3,000 applications,” explains Hannah. “The application process was over three stages, all of which presented their own challenges – but I was determined to succeed.”
Even though I have a non-traditional background – I didn’t do A-levels and changed careers after being a dancer – the confidence and academic excellence I acquired at LSBU pushed me to aim high.
With such a positive experience behind her, Hannah hopes that other would-be lawyers will follow in her footsteps at LSBU, and thinks that the quality of teaching gives them a great chance of success. “You’re taught by people who have been in practice for years, and some who still are,” she says. “They all want you to do well, and will give you as much support as possible.”
It’s been an opportunity that Hannah has seized with both hands, and she is now studying for her LPC while waiting for her training contract to start. “There’s no doubt in my mind that I wouldn’t have achieved what I have so far without LSBU,” says Hannah. “Everything I have done has been built on the brilliant foundations I gained there.”
Read more about studying LLB (Hons) Law at LSBU.