GRADUATE PROFILE, KATIE KILBURN, FAMILY LAWYER AT STOWE FAMILY LAW LLP
This month we profile LPC graduate Katie Kilburn, Family Lawyer at Stowe Family Law, who began her legal career by studying at our Leeds campus, she discusses what she has gone on to do since graduating
Year of graduation: 2008
Course name: Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) & Bar Vocational Course (BVC)
Which BPP University centre did you study at? Leeds
Job Title: Family Lawyer
Company Name: Stowe Family Law LLP
Location of workplace: Wetherby, West Yorkshire
What is your ultimate ambition (if not already achieved?):
I would like to be made a Partner at a highly reputable law firm, such as Stowe Family Law LLP.
I always wanted to be a judge, however, I am not so sure anymore having witnessed the job they do first hand. It is not as easy and glamorous as one might think.
Detail your educational background and your career journey to date:
Before attending BBP Law School in Leeds, I studied for a Bachelor of Arts Degree in History at the University of Newcastle and graduated in 2006. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the University of Newcastle and the tutors were excellent. I loved studying the different aspects of social history and found it very interesting.
After completing my BA (Hons) Degree at Newcastle, I decided to change my career path slightly and study law at BPP Law School where I completed my Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) and Bar Vocational Course (BVC).
I was called to the Bar of England and Wales in 2008 and I have specialised in family law since 2008 before I qualified as a solicitor in 2011.
I now work at Stowe Family Law LLP, the country’s largest law firm dedicated solely to family law. I joined in 2014, starting at the firm’s head office in Harrogate before I moved to the office in Wetherby, West Yorkshire in 2015. I regularly return to the Harrogate office and although most of my cases are heard in the family court in England and Wales, I have advised clients on international cases across Europe, including Germany, France and Poland.
Despite having experience working on many different family law matters, I specialise in divorce and separation, financial settlements and cases involving children. Due to the nature of the family law cases I deal with, clients could be feeling vulnerable so I try to adopt a constructive approach.
Why did you decide to study at BPP University and what advice would you give to those thinking about studying here?
I chose to study at BPP in Leeds because the university had a great reputation, as well as offering both the GDL and the BVC.
Many professionals in the industry speak highly of BPP so studying there stands you in good stead as it is a reputable institution.
The tutors at BPP are a real asset. They are helpful and friendly and easy to talk to if you are struggling with an aspect of your studies. I would definitely recommend making use of the support they offer.
How did you studies prepare you with the knowledge and expertise to develop or pursue your professional career?
My studies at university helped to gain experience in formulating an argument. Part of History was looking at different opinions from different time periods.
GDL crash course in the law crammed a lot into one year but it was really good because I did not decide to do law until part way through my studies so that meant I didn’t have to do two degrees. All aspects of law are useful. Even though you may not want to do property law or contract law, it gives a solid base for all the possible issues that might come up in other areas. I used all sorts of things I learned about different law during my studies, such as trusts, transfer / ownership of land etc.
BVC focussed more on the skills you need in the work place. Although I ended up as a solicitor rather than a barrister, the skills I developed in that year are invaluable. Working in a busy legal aid firm in my first week as a legal assistant straight out of the BVC, I was sent off to court to deal with an application. Due to the hands-on experience of advocacy and advising clients on the BVC I was less fazed than I might have otherwise been.
However, nothing really compares to the hands-on experience of actually doing the work. As well as just learning about the law, it is so important to top up your studies with work experience, vacation schemes etc.
What top tip would you give to those considering studying your course at BPP University?
Be prepared to work hard. The courses I did were pretty intense but enjoyable at the same time.
Who or what was your biggest influence when making the decision to study at University?
History was the subject I enjoyed most at school and thought it could be useful whatever career I went into. It is a very flexible subject and you develop skills can be used in many careers. When deciding to study at BPP I knew I wanted to do law and it was ideal that BPP offered both GDL and BVC which were both very focussed at the specific career I wanted.
Did you search for testimonials when researching the University/course? If so, what kind of information did you seek to obtain and where did you source it from?
Yes, I did internet searches for how supportive the tutors were and sought out what the reputation of the law school was.
What top tip would you give to students who are about to embark on their professional career?
Put what you learn on your course into practice. Doing it in the real world might seem scary at first but you probably know more than you think and just need to do it with confidence! All solicitors, barristers, judges have been there and know what you’re going through.
Why do you think it is important to stay connected with your alumni network?
It enables you to keep in touch with classmates from BPP and it is interesting to see how vocational training can lead to lots of different careers. There was a big variety in my peers but all interesting and all doing well for themselves. It is also good for networking, referrals etc.
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