For the first time ever, The Open University hosted a Careers in Law Insight Evening specifically for the benefit of our Law students. Held at The Bar of Northern Ireland in the prestigious Bar Library in Belfast, there were 35 attendees at the event to hear from three leading professionals from the legal world: Owen Williamson, Bobbie-Leigh Herdman and Barbara Jemphrey.
Chaired by Barrister-at-Law and Open University Associate Lecturer, Stuart Magee, Owen Williamson and Bobbie-Leigh Herdman provided an insight into what a career as a solicitor and a barrister like in Northern Ireland.
Owen Williamson qualified as a Solicitor with Shean Dickson Merrick in 2016 and continues to work in private practice in the areas of Commercial Property & Company Law, Commercial Litigation and Private Clients. Owen is a current member of the Northern Ireland Young Solicitors’ Association’s committee as well as the Executive Committee of the European Young Bar Association. Owen spoke about his university pathway, how he came to qualify as a solicitor and what his long term ambitions are.
Bobbie-Leigh Herdman, Barrister-at-Law, was called to the Bar in 2014 and her practice focuses on Criminal Law, Employment Law and Judicial Review. Bobbie-Leigh was Chair of the Young Bar Association from 2017-2018. She shared many stories from her studies and the early years at the Bar and the lessons learned being new to Junior Counsel.
Barbara Jemphrey, Interim Director, Institute of Professional Legal Studies (IPLS), outlined the application process that you need to follow, should you wish to apply to become a trainee barrister or solicitor. Barbara qualified as a solicitor in 1989 and worked in private practice and in-house until being appointed to the IPLS in 2001. Barbara was appointed Senior Lecturer (Education) in 2007 and Interim Director of the IPLS in December 2017. Barbara is responsible for the Solicitor Professional Skills and Development module at the IPLS and coaches the IPLS Mediation team which competes in the UK Universities Mediation Competition and the International Mediation Competition. Barbara has also held a judicial appointment as Chair of the NI Valuation Tribunal since 2017.
The Open University’s Careers and Employability team were on hand to give information and guidance about how to use this valuable industry insight to further your career.
The evening was completed with a networking session and refreshments.
This event presented the ideal opportunity to engage and network with a range of legal and careers professionals and gain an insight into the rewarding careers that gaining a law degree can open. Students from across Northern Ireland attended the event and feedback was excellent, with 100% satisfaction with the evening. Students reflected that they found the event inspiring, thought-provoking and entirely worthwhile.