Name: Paula Poniatowska

Course: GE LLB

Year: 2017-2019

International Student: Toronto, Canada

I am a dual Canadian and European Union citizen. Graduate with an Honours Bachelor of Art and Science with distinction from the University of Toronto. I completed a double major in Criminology, Law, Ethics and Society with a minor in Language and Literature.

Studying law in London has provided me with an international perspective; I had the privilege to meet with various barristers from top City law firms during networking sessions. I have been exposed to both, the public and private legal sector and I am aware of what the legal field has to offer from the dynamic courtroom setting to the regulation of the legal industry.

Why did you choose to study the GE LLB?

The GE LLB degree appealed to me for two reasons: the first being that I wanted to get international exposure and the degree that was designed specifically for mature students. The Graduate Entry LLB (GE LLB) program is specially tailored for students who have previous postgraduate degrees. Additionally, it is great that the program is structured in two years; one is able to attain a competitive common law degree.

It is a great opportunity to diversify your professional experiences and academic qualifications. Additionally, it is important to note that City Law School had specifically created the GE LLB and made the cohort sizes small, which makes your overall experience great. You are able to make close and personal ties with your classmates and interact with your lecturers. The classroom setting is informal and meaningful class discussions are encouraged on legal and policy matters.

I am impressed with the program and as an international student would highly recommend this route to aspiring lawyers.

Why did you choose City, University of London/The City Law School?

After thorough research, I found that City, University of London appealed to me most due to its central London location; you are located in the heart of London close to all the major firms. Moreover, I chose to study at City Law School because they offered a wide variety of elective modules that cater to Canadian students planning on returning to practice in North America. The variety of modules that are offered range from Canadian Corporate Law and Canadian Constitutional Law, but faculty make an effort to discuss Canadian issues comparatively to UK law. It is important that first-year law students get exposure to a variety of modules so they explore a variety of areas within the legal field and then decide to specialize.

City Law School not only offers a competitive and academically challenging program but also is well respected within the legal community. The lecturers and professors are experts in their fields of study and have published a variety of scholarly and legal material.  Another benefit of attending City Law School is that if you want to volunteer or attend open days at any of the magic circle firms you are in central London and have direct access.

Moreover, City Law School has an amazing academic and professional support team. In the GE LLB program, you are provided with personal tutors if you have any difficulties during the academic term with formative and/or summative assignments. Your lecturers are dedicated and welcoming and host office hours during exam preparations. The City University of London Career Centre offers a variety of support resources such as Training Contract Advisory Service, Pupillage Advisory Service, Pro Bono and Mooting Competition Opportunities. In addition, the Career and Development Centre is well equipped to aid students with skill workshops, aptitude testing and legal career advice. They host a variety of networking events, legal seminars and information on how to apply to LLM, BPTC, or LPC programs. My decision to study at The City Law School was influenced by the extensive range of resources and support offered by the Careers Centre to develop my professional skills.

Tell us about your experience living and studying in London?

As Dr Samuel Johnson wrote, “If a man is tired of London, he is tired of life”—and even if you get tired of London the rest of Europe is just a hop away! City is closely located to a variety of tube lines and train lines that can take you to the airport and the rest of the UK. The city has an efficient transit system, which is easy to navigate; all you need is your Oyster card.

London is one of the most progressive, culturally diverse, affluent cities in the world! Also, known as the ‘global legal hub’ where many individuals and corporations come to attain legal advice making it the best place to study law. Living in central London has been an amazing experience where I have met many interesting local and international people.

Have you taken part in any extracurricular activities? (E.g. mooting, pro bono, class trips, student societies, etc.)

In my first year of the GE LLB program, I was elected to be the program representative for my cohort.  This was a great opportunity to get involved in the City Law School community by meeting prominent faculty members and other student union leaders.  In my final year, I chose to take a medical law elective module and during my studies, as a result, I became a research assistant for

Dr Sabrina Germain. I researched private finance initiatives (PFIs) and private medical insurance (PMIs) for the NHS healthcare system.  I learnt about the organization and public policy of the NHS and politics of the NGS within England.

Moreover, I was an executive member of the Canadian American Law Society (CALS). As the communications officer for CALS, I helped promote and organize a variety of academic, professional and social networking events. The academic workshops that CALS hosted were: English Legal System, Tort Law, Criminal Law, Constitutional and Contract Law. Moreover, CALS organized a professional networking event, Q & A for Aspiring Lawyers’ with Canadian-trained Dr David Mangan. Being part of a student society is a great way to get involved and meet peers with similar interests.  An important initiative that CALS launched was the mentorship program, in which first-year law students were paired with second-year students to offer guidance during their first year of initiation. A memorable event hosted by CALS was the trip to the Royal Courts of Justice (RCJ) it was a great opportunity to see the court and sit in on a live trial. In addition, CALS members were able to partake in a mock criminal moot, learning about the criminal justice system and the skills necessary to be a barrister.

Lastly, while studying full time I worked part-time for a pro-bono community initiative at the Disability Law Service (DLS). Working with a team of solicitors and paralegals I was able to attain practical hands-on experience within the legal profession.  I learnt about various U.K. statutes and case law pertaining to community care and health law. I was responsible for conducting phone interviews with potential clients, responding to inquiries about community care and employment law. Moreover, I created fact sheets pertaining to legal issues faced by people with disabilities. Thanks to this opportunity I was able to develop my management and leadership skills such as delegation, mediation and teamwork skills.

What advice or tips would you give to anyone who wants to study the GE LLB in the UK?

My advice to future students interested in the GE LLB is to not hold back and apply! This international opportunity will definitely open doors, providing one with unique experiences and networking possibilities.

The three pieces of advice I would offer to any student planning on embarking on the journey of applying to the Graduate Entry LLB to pursue a career in law is:

1) Healthy work-life balance! First year of law school can be overwhelming, with the amount of case law, articles and textbook reading. One piece of important advice I can offer is taking mental breaks. Stay energized, go to the gym, or if you are like me go, for a jog down the Thames River!  It is crucial to have a social life coupled with a good study ethic. The key to success is organization and time management!

2) Do not be afraid to ask for help! You have a wide range of resources available to you at City from mentoring schemes, library services and Career Centre advice drop-ins. Take advantage of the services offered! Book resume and cover letter appointments. I would highly recommend completing Westlaw Certifications through Thomson Reuters offered at the law library.  Also, if you have exam and summative questions book appointments to see your personal tutors and/or lecturers. Having a good mentor always makes the transition easier and a support study group, which is what got me through law school.

3) Get involved in sports, pro-bono volunteering, and student societies! The best piece of advice I can give to any law student is to try to attain some legal experience within the field you are passionate about whether it is Human Rights Law, Intellectual Property, or Medial Law! Moreover, joining societies or clubs is the best way to learn new skills or enhance your knowledge of current legal issues. Networking is also a critical element and necessary if you plan to become successful in the legal industry!  I would highly recommend completing the Pro-Bono Training Certification and participating in one of the placements such as DLS, Appropriate Adult Service, National Domestic Service Helpline or Shelter Association.

I strongly believe that law is a central facet of the functioning of society and now thanks to City Law School I can join the legal profession and I am equipped with the appropriate soft and hard skills of a legal education!

What are you doing now?

More recently, I have worked as a government staffer in the Ontario Legislative Assembly where I had the opportunity to see the intricacies of how politics and the law intertwine. During my time in law school I conducted research in medical law with Dr. Sabrina Germain to help publish “Justice and Profit in Health Care Law, A Comparative Analysis of the United States and United Kingdom.” Additionally, I completed a medical law module that concluded with a research paper on Clinical Research in Developing Countries.

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