Guest Student Blog: Malina Preda talks about discovering a passion for family law

Malina recently graduated this July.

My name is Malina Preda and I am graduating this year from University of Essex. My evolution through three years spent in university was impressive as I enjoyed lots of work experience in my final year which increased my learning outcomes, skills and employability. My first year of university was the hardest because I’m not a native english speaker, the language barrier made the process really difficult and I could not show the best abilities I have. I had lots of rejections in the first and second year which made me feel I did not achieve enough and it was not a good idea to continue the process, but the final year showed me that just a bit of experience can make a big difference.

When it was the time to make my third-year module choices, two of the modules I chose were the Family Law module and the Law Placement module. I chose the Law Placement module because it would give me an opportunity to secure some experience and develop skills relevant to a law career. I heard about Support Through Court (Chelmsford) and Suffolk Law Centre (Ipswich) who provide support for people who could not get legal advice or support in the court process. These placements would give me the chance to learn more about different areas of law such as family law, employment law, and housing law. I applied and I was successful in securing the roles which make me feel more confident in my abilities to show what I can achieve and do.

I began volunteering two days per week with Support Through Court (STC) in Chelmsford and one day per week with the Suffolk Law Centre (ISCRE) in Ipswich. Due to my lecturer’s encouragement, I felt more optimistic for my future and confident about my abilities. I could discover that I am capable in what I am doing and I need to be more confident in my knowledge. After I received the opportunity to volunteer with ISCRE and STC, the Citizens Advice Bureau also gave me the chance to volunteer when I have time.
I could see how getting a little experience in some places can increase the probability of volunteering or working in different organisations. I understood that experience improves basic skills, which become exceptional with more time spent in practice. During the placements, I developed essential transferable skills like communication, listening, analysis, attention to detail and teamwork.

I spent a lot of time with STC, and I am proud of my achievements there. I developed excellent communication skills, speaking face to face or over the phone, listening properly to clients, and taking notes during hearings which increased my attention and focus. All the time spent there I treated with passion, love, and curiosity and was cheerful for all the cases I dealt with. I enjoyed working there and felt that I was appreciated for my hard-work. I felt that sometimes I did not do enough but the next time I would always try to do better and improve my work. I tried to develop my abilities every day and I know that this will help me develop a successful career in the future.

I know that Family Law is the main area where I would like to develop and work and the Family Law module and the Law Placement module have helped me to develop professionally. I think the opportunities I secured through the Placement module have given me a lot of insight and I am proud I could experience this during university without fear of the language barrier which at the beginning was a big problem for me. I would highly recommend and encourage you to achieve as much work experience as you can as it will help you build networks and will open more doors for you for the future.

Please note the module, Clinical Legal Education (Law placement), is not running during the 2020-21 academic year but will be back in 2021-22. However there will be placement opportunities advertised throughout the academic year which you can do alongside your degree.

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