I am an Associate Lecturer with the Faculty of Business and Law. I have been teaching W102 (Law: Concepts and Perspectives) since 2016 and W330 (European Union Law) since 2017.
I combine my OU role with other academic roles as Professor of Commercial Law and Practice Chair at Brunel University London and Visiting Professor at Imperial College London. I am also a full-time practising barrister. I practise EU, competition and regulatory law as a barrister at Serle Court Chambers. I also serve as a non-executive Board member of the Legal Aid Agency which dispenses civil and criminal legal aid.
By combining these roles, and particularly with the flexibility that the OU provides for distance learning, I am able to bring a practitioner focus to my teaching and build a bridge between academic study and the practice of law. The subjects I teach tend to coincide with my professional practice. I have, for example, advised the UK government on preparations for Brexit and been involved in drafting secondary legislation under the EU Withdrawal Act.
My journey through the law is somewhat atypical. My students tell me that it has been inspirational to their own motivation in studying law, even if this is not where they started out. I hold undergraduate and post-graduate degrees in Law from the University of Oxford. I qualified as a solicitor in 1999. After 15 years practising as a solicitor, including most recently as a partner and head of EU competition law in an international law firm, I was called to the Bar in 2013. I have also held the role as a director with the economics and forensics teams of PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Many undergraduate law students will be wondering whether their study of European Union Law will be relevant to them in the future. In my view, now more than ever EU and international law will be of increasing relevance for those who intend to pursue a career in law or business in the UK and also further afield. Maintaining the level-playing field – which includes the rules on competition and State aid – is expected to be a key element in the negotiations over future trade deals.
My advice to students would be to focus on what you want to achieve with your degree and work hard to fulfil your potential. You may aim to pursue a career in law. Even if that is not your goal, the insights that you gain will be valuable in other professions and in the world of business. Think about what motivates you, what you have to offer and how you can differentiate yourself.
My advice comes from experience of teaching and working in very different legal environments and countries over different stages in my own career: 1) accept that you may not be able to ‘have it all’ at one time and you will need to make choices about what blend of work and life balance works for you at any particular time, 2) start building relationships with others in your chosen field early on, 3) be kind to others and yourself as building resilience will be necessary to get you through the hard work of study and the often tough times of practising, 4) don’t be afraid to promote yourself, and 5) remember what got you to where you are today does not necessarily dictate where you go from here.