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Q&A with Law School Employability Adviser, Jo Cooksley

30 August 2018

Joining us in September, Jo Cooksley is the Law School's new Employability Adviser; a role developed following student feedback regarding the need for greater legal specific careers support within the School. After previously practising law and working in a role mentoring trainees at CILEX (professional body for Chartered Legal Executives), Jo will be providing specialised careers support to all law students, offering 1:1 development sessions, workshops, tailored CV and application support and more.

What was it about the role in the Law School that appealed to you? 

The opportunity to work in such a prestigious organisation which recognises and invests in both academic excellence as well as the practical requirements of supporting students to identify and achieve their aims after their studies. I’m looking forward to working directly with students to help them make the most of the opportunities available to them in the Law School and the University Careers service more generally, and to help them achieve their short- and long-term employment goals. I see this as a really privileged position to be in and can't wait to get started! I know how tough combining studies, life generally and planning a career can be and I hope to offer practical support to make this an exciting and positive experience. 

What do you think will be your biggest challenge? 

A bit like a new student, working out where I am supposed to be, when and how to get there! I want to make sure I reach as many people as I can and offer the support that's needed. Life as an undergrad is very busy and I want to make sure the support I can offer is as relevant and accessible as it possibly can be - student input on this will be gratefully received. Much as for a new student, I already feel that the support I will need to make a success of this and have as positive an impact as I can, is there.  

How did you get into the legal sector? 

I completed a Geography degree at Manchester University and whilst I was studying became increasingly interested in law. After graduating and working for a year I enrolled on, and completed, the CPE and then LPC. I worked in Manchester and I’ve taught law at various levels for a number of years and most recently worked with legal apprentices in a variety of firms across the country. I still find law and the ever-changing legal sector fascinating and feel lucky to be able to work with students just starting out in this field. 

What do you think is the most important skill a student can take into the workplace? 

Flexibility and resilience - that's more than one skill, I know, but I think they are inextricably linked! I am sure students will have seen these words a million times and I hope that together we will be able to make them meaningful and relevant. I believe these are skills that students studying law will already possess but sometimes aren't immediately identifiable.  

What piece of advice would you offer  

1) A law student starting out at university in September 

Eat well, get some sleep, attend all lectures and tutorials and make the most of all of the support and resources on offer to you. It may take some time to settle into new routines and manage new expectations but you've worked hard to get here and deserve to be here. Know that everyone in the Law School and wider university wants you to succeed and that success can be very different for different people. Your time at university is yours to make of it what you will, there will be challenges but there will also be people there to support you on your way.  

2) A recent graduate as they start on the recruitment trail this summer 

Congratulations first of all! Remember to be kind to yourself, you may get your dream job straight away or it may take time. Flexibility and resilience matter here as well, be open to unexpected opportunities and remember to make the most of all the support available to you at the Careers Service. Make use of those reflective skills you will have developed during your degree and keep your options open. Opportunities in law and opportunities more generally for Law grads are many and varied and taking time to really research those opportunities will pay dividends in the long run.  

What do you hope to have achieved by this time next year? 

I hope to have had a positive impact on as many students as possible. What positive means will vary but I hope that students will feel that support has been available, relevant and accessible. I hope as many students as possible will feel as well prepared for the jobs market as they can be and that they have had the opportunity to really think about their strengths and areas for development - and have been supported to take positive steps to identifying and achieving their employment objectives.  

Further information

Jo will be based in the Marketing Office, room 2.19 in the Wills Memorial Building. 

If you have any queries relating to employability, please contact us here. 

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