Apprehensive at first, Ryan Lenihan, 17, from Gower College Swansea took the plunge and applied for the 2020 LEDLET Summer Scheme run in partnership with Legal Wales.
Here he tells us why it’s important to have self-belief and the confidence to grab opportunities, and aim high if you want to pursue your passion...
“Since beginning my AS levels in September 2019, I immediately enjoyed studying law. Taking part in HE+ sessions by Seren enabled me to develop my super-curricular knowledge of law and inspired me to view it as a potential career option for myself.
In law, connections are everything. However, I did not have any access to the legal profession. No one in my family is a solicitor or barrister and I will be the first person in my immediate family to go to university.
My law lecturer, Louisa, and the Seren co-ordinator at my college, Fiona Beresford, introduced several students, including myself, to Elizabeth Hicks, the chair of LEDLET, who told us about the scheme and how it offers a great opportunity to get work experience. At first, I was unsure about applying, but Fiona encouraged me to do so. I completed an application, outlining my hobbies, jobs and why I wanted to attend the scheme – to my surprise I was accepted onto the Summer programme.
Due to the pandemic, the scheme took place virtually in July 2020. Despite the fact I missed out on a week in London, it was a fascinating experience. I had the chance to listen to solicitors and barristers, finding out about their work, as well as receiving invaluable advice on pursuing a career in the legal profession. I also participated in several advocacy-based tasks, including statutory interpretation and plea in mitigation which were intellectually stimulating and great fun!
Throughout the week, I had a personal mentor who gave me amazing tips and advice as well as answered all my questions thoroughly and honestly. A particular highlight was having the opportunity to listen to two Welsh judges from the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal, who shared insightful stories from their lengthy judicial careers. In addition to this, LEDLET alumni also told us about their experiences on the scheme and how it helped them in their professional journeys.
As well as legal insights, the LEDLET Scheme also provided several guidance sessions on university applications and life at university. We had group discussions with admissions tutors from Oxford and Cardiff universities, who advised us on the dos and don’ts when it comes to drafting a personal statement. They also recommended academic materials for us to read to show intellectual promise and offered tips to do well in the LNAT – the law university admissions test.
My advice to any college or sixth form students thinking about applying to the LEDLET Summer Scheme would be to go for it. Be courageous and ambitious and take the once in a lifetime chance to experience the legal sector like you haven’t before. The guidance from the LEDLET trustees was invaluable and I will be forever grateful to them. Secondly, be honest when writing your application (show your passion for the law) and make sure you plan your application layout and write succinctly – my mentor told me this was one of the reasons I was accepted to the Scheme.
Finally, use the help from Seren as much as possible, take all the opportunities available to you and aim high!”
For more information about the LEDLET Summer Scheme run in partnership with Legal Wales, visit the website: https://www.ledlet.org.uk/