My dear OULS colleagues let me share with you my experiences as someone who is not a native English speaker, but who is currently studying English law with the intention to pursue a career in the legal sector.
Firstly, I would like to emphasise for those taking a similar path that the most important thing you must do is to create an environment in which you are not scared to ask questions, share your thoughts, or offer your opinions.
For me this is still a big challenge, because I am originally from Poland. What I have noticed is the ability to build strong professional relationships helps me to establish a credible working environment for my studies. Should you worry about being taken seriously in a legal environment I suggest the following would help; expand your legal reading beyond your textbooks; keep up to date on legal news and articles; watch court cases; and participate in open days, events and conferences. In fact even simply talking with your fellow students and maintaining great relationships with your tutors can do wonders. They are professionals, and their advice will help you further.
This networking may also pay off at a professional level post-study. You never know if you might also end up working with your tutor, or receiving a reference or recommendation from them. So keep asking questions, keep to your deadlines, and send a positive message from you that you have a right attitude to excel in a career in law.
Work hard and be a shining example for other students on your law course (not an easy job!).
In order to be a shining example you will want to gain the attention of your colleagues and tutors for your legal knowledge and attitude to learning, not only because of your background or reasons for studying law. We all have our reasons for studying and come from varying backgrounds, but only by being honest with ourselves about why we pursue a law degree, and focusing on doing the best we possibly can will we succeed.
As non-native English speaker, I use every advantage available to me. I utilise everything the OU provides, but I still also use sources and knowledge from my previous schools in Poland. I look for knowledge and inspiration from many sources, such as from other tutors, fellow students and my managers at work.
In addition I might have extra knowledge about legal issues that are in my country, as well as news and governmental/political information. It is important to maintain an international level of knowledge, as it might have impact on wider legal issues facing Europe in turn the UK. In addition a solid understanding of wider international legal issues is something highly valued in the legal sector!
When I planned to study law, I didn’t know that Brexit was coming. Now however, I am gaining extensive legal and political knowledge about this event that will be useful in my career. The additional sources and knowledge available to me as a non-native English law student mean I am performing on the highest level of the understanding about Brexit, and what English legal position is.
Ultimately I know that there will be no exceptions made for me because I am from another country. By making smart choices and utilising my advantages, I have proven I am as capable as any student on my course, excelled at my legal studies, and unleashed my full potential.
Personally, I want to study further and gain enough knowledge to be able specialise in my chosen field of law. I intend to go on to take a Masters, before seeking a training contract.
My dear colleagues, though tough decisions are needed when living and studying in another country, there is nothing to be a scared of. I hope you have found my experiences useful in gaining the confidence to go out and succeed!
Good luck for everyone!
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