Amelia Handoll-Clark (Law Associate)
Immediately after finishing my A-levels I had secured a place at University College London, but deferred my entry for a year so that I could travel.
I worked for 6 months as a waitress until I had enough money and then a friend and I spent the remaining 6 months of the year travelling from Cuba to Argentina. It was epic - travel if you can.
At UCL I studied a BA Hons in Modern Iberian and Latin American Studies. Which was essentially Spanish and Portuguese as languages with related history, politics and culture studies. I chose the course because I had enjoyed my Spanish and sociology A-levels and because I wanted the opportunity to study abroad. As a result, I spent 6 months of my third year in Mexico attending La Universidad de Las Americas and 6 months in Brazil at the Universidad de Rio de Janeiro. I graduated with a 2:1, having had loads of fun, but with little idea as to how I wanted to use my degree! Some of my fellow students went on to join non-governmental organisations, teach, do a Masters, or join international publicists. I attended a number of presentations in my final year which were held by the uni careers team and that’s how my interest in law began.
I am now an Associate, in the Financial Markets Litigation team, at Simmons & Simmons LLP. However, due to studying a non-law degree after St Brendan’s, I didn't have the work experience required to gain a training contract straight out of university, so I came back to Bristol and worked as a legal secretary/paralegal at a local Planning Law practice, whilst I applied for law school and training contracts. I got a training contract with Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP (BLP) who funded my law conversion course (the graduate diploma in law and the LPC). After 2 years completing my training contract at BLP in London I qualified as a solicitor and joined Simmons & Simmons as a litigator.
St Brendan’s gave me the opportunity to get strong grades in a wide variety of A-Levels whilst studying at a culturally and socially diverse, highly respected institution. Additionally, the teachers, particularly my English and Spanish teachers, were always willing to talk through my options and helped me with my UCAS application.
My piece of advice to current students would be to enjoy your time at St Brendan’s but do the work and jump through the necessary educational hoops. It’s so much easier once you have your A-Levels to then decide if University is the right path for you; rather than figuring that out a few years later and having to go back and get the grades you need. However, keep in mind that you will probably have to retrain for the specific job (or jobs) you end up doing, so really all you are ever learning is how to learn.
In ten years’ time I hope to be a Partner at law firm and known by my peers in my specific litigation field.