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A year rich with endless possibilities: Q&A with LLM graduate Emily Littlehales

Press release issued: 23 October 2018

As part of our Pro Bono Week series we caught up with Law graduate and winner of the prize for Best Performance in the International Law and International Relations LLM Pathway Emily Littlehales. In this Q&A she talks about the challenges of starting an LLM without prior experience of law, the value of embracing opportunities, and the way in which working with the Human Rights Implementation Centre while studying influenced her career path.

Why did you decide to study your MA degree in law at Bristol?

After falling in love with the city of Bristol and completing my undergraduate at UoB, I knew it was the only place I’d want to do my LLM. I actually didn’t realise it was possible however (as my first degree wasn’t in law), but the kind UoB postgraduate team pointed me towards a new LLM pathway that allowed me to study International Law and International Relations - a more socio-legal course that better suited my existing Social Policy knowledge and skill set.

What did you find most inspiring during your time at the University of Bristol?

The staff: without question, I was utterly inspired by those whom I was lucky enough to be taught by. From their international experiences, real-life stories and current involvements in genuine legal, political projects, I took every opportunity to ask questions and get to know the UoB teaching community. I never realised we’d be allowed that kind of access, but those times opened my wide-eyes to so much and certainly prepared me for my next adventure. 

What was the biggest challenge you faced while studying?

I came into the programme without any prior knowledge or experience of law. I had to look up every legal term and learn all over again how to write good essays. More so, I was surrounded by majority law graduates, which made me feel both terrified and determined. My classmates pushed me and inspired me, and I’m thankful to call them friends. My biggest challenge was my best achievement: Getting a Distinction for a Master’s in a subject I’d never studied before, alongside peers who knew far more than myself on the day we started together.

Congratulations again on your graduation award earlier this year – how did it feel to win the prize for Best Performance in the International Law and International Relations LLM Pathway?

Thank you! It was such a shock and an overwhelming privilege, and certainly my biggest academic achievement. I felt so proud of my hard work and so grateful to my teachers, my friends and the wider UoB community. To emerge from a new Master’s pathway in a new subject with an award like this one is something I’ll never forget - I’ll absolutely take the confidence it gave me into my future work.

While studying for your LLM you were a team leader for the Human Rights Law Clinic (HRIC). How did your experience help in terms of preparing for the workplace, and did your voluntary work influence the career path you would like to pursue?

My time as a HRIC team leader was invaluable in so many ways: I discovered a whole new legal world of human rights that captured my heart and mind, and which has since steered my career hopes and dreams. I got to meet so many inspiring people with similar passions, and we were able to develop our research skills as a team doing work with real-world impact. I was even offered the opportunity to work in The Gambia for a year, which was a result of my voluntary time with the HRIC. This experience opened my eyes to so many possibilities, and continues to influence my career path - I’ll always be thankful for it.

What advice would you give to students about to start their journey into Law at Bristol?

Make the most of your year. However cheesy it might sound, what you put in is what you’ll get out. Get to know your classmates and become real friends, ask to meet with your lecturers in their office hours, take your personal tutor up on time with them, join the HRIC and ask for more opportunities to help staff with their research or otherwise. This is a year rich with endless possibilities and the potential to propel you into a future bigger than you’ve yet dared to dream. Embrace it all with unceasing determination, and you’ll undoubtably succeed here.

Further information

Pro Bono Week is an annual occasion to recognise and celebrate the valuable voluntary contributions of lawyers giving free legal aid to those in need. Find out more about pro bono opportunities at the University of Bristol Law School:

The Law Clinic provides students with an opportunity to gain a real-life experience of law, offering free legal advice and support to members of the public under the supervision of Law School staff.

The Human Rights Implementation Centre (HRIC) offers through its Human Rights Law Clinic the unique opportunity for students to work with international, regional and national organisations engaged in the promotion and protection of human rights law. 

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