Freya Anderson-Ward, second year trainee solicitor at the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, obtained her LLB and Diploma in Professional Legal Practice from the University of Dundee. Her traineeship has been based in Crown Office and local offices, focusing on Criminal Law; including Local Court Units, Appeal Unit, High Court Unit and Policy. She is due to qualify in September 2020.
I was a bit short of the qualifications I needed to get into university to study Law and I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to do next. I spoke to someone at the University of Dundee who told me about the HNC in Legal Services which sounded interesting so I got in touch with Fife College, applied and luckily, I got a place - even though I was really late in applying! Sometimes people pull out or don’t turn up so it's always worth getting in touch with the college, no matter how late you think it is!
I wasn’t sure what to expect from the course, as, to be honest, I hadn’t done much research into it. I was, however, very pleasantly surprised and it was a great stepping-stone in so many ways. I learned about the many different areas of law and got a great overview. It also gave me a great basis for when I did start my degree as I already knew the basics and so I felt, in some ways, ahead of the rest of the class. It also really prepared me for the type of learning that I was going to experience at university.
I had to take responsibility for my own learning at college, just like you do at university. The lecturers aren’t there to hand hold, and you need to get used to that before starting on the LLB, however, my lecturers at college were very approachable and because there were smaller classes, it was easier to ask for help or to clarify a point. The HNC/HND also prepares you for strict deadlines but encourages you in many ways including helping to build confidence through delivering talks or presentations and getting comfortable in group situations and the art of debating.
After I had completed my HNC, I was offered a place at the University of Dundee and after four years, I finally completed my law degree. I didn’t have a traineeship lined up and I didn’t have the funds to complete the Diploma straight away either. Instead, I got a job as a Fiscal Officer in the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service and after three years (and a push from my colleagues), I decided to apply for a traineeship within the Crown Office and much to my surprise, my application was successful. I then applied to do my Diploma and applied to the Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS) for funding. I went back to university after having four years out, completed my Diploma and I’ve never looked back.
Whilst I didn’t go down the ‘traditional route’, I don’t think there is one anymore. There are so many pathways which all lead to the same place and I believe that not getting into university straight from school made me more determined to get a place and to prove that I could. That determination also allowed me to obtain one of the most sought-after traineeships in Scotland and my four years away from university allowed me to gain vital life and professional experience which helped greatly when applying for traineeships.
I now have a job that I love and although I worked extremely hard for it, I wouldn’t change how I got here. I gained so much from the HNC and that gave me a push to work hard at university, be more assertive and get to where I am today.