Jay Rajpal

Jay Rajpal

Please tell us a bit about yourself and your background

I am an international student from Canada, currently in my first year of the 2-year graduate LLB program. I was born in India but raised in the United States and Canada. After completing my B.A. in Philosophy and Law from McGill University, I managed to secure a position in the IT department of a bank where I worked for nearly two years before embarking on my LLB at the University of Leeds.

What motivated you to apply to study your chosen course and why did you choose Leeds?

Like many other students, I have always had an innate interest in law – specifically in ethics and crime. My previous degree in philosophy only stimulated this interest further.

I applied and was accepted to Leeds before I did any research on the university itself. All I knew before applying was its ranking among other UK universities and the academic qualifications required to apply. After speaking with a few friends who graduated with LLBs from UK universities, I was convinced that if anything, I’ll be able to travel around in Europe in my downtime. Without much thought put into it, I booked the flight and began this new chapter of my life.

What do you think of your course, have there been any particular highlights for you?

The people. Lecturers, tutors, and the friends I made while studying at the School of Law are by far the most enjoyable part of studying at Leeds. Having experienced another undergraduate program, I can confidently say that the staff and faculty in the Leeds Law School are here to improve your undergraduate experience. Lecturers and seminar leaders genuinely want to help you succeed whether that is in your study or co-curricular activities, and they are there to support you every step of the way in any way possible.

How would you describe the help and guidance provided by the staff within the School?

The student Employability Officers are by far the greatest resources the Law School has to offer. While specializing in employment opportunities, they also provide support with CV and cover letter advice, and how to present yourself when interacting with professionals.

In addition, just by being in the Liberty Building, anyone is inevitably bound to run into a lecturer or department head who not only makes the effort to engage with students, but also to genuinely shows interest in the students’ extracurricular interests.

On a final note, interacting with seminar leaders and lecturers is not as daunting as most first-year students think. They are all incredibly kind, non-judgemental, and encourage students to address them by their first names which thereby removes the ‘student-teacher hierarchy’.

How would you describe the facilities at the University? 

While the School of Law is separated from the main campus by a short 5-minute walk, the Liberty Building itself is one of the most modern and chic buildings in the University. To say the least, the common room during the mid-afternoon sun is definitely Instagram worthy. The common room is a great place to hang out, meet for group work or get some work done (with a café like noise level). The building also has a quieter group study and a separate silent study room on the second floor for students to use.

The building is closed on weekends; however, the campus libraries, Student Union and cafes are all open which almost forces students to visit the main campus and take advantage of the different study areas available to them.

Have you been involved in co-curricular activities, such as societies, summer placements etc?

The student-led Law Society boasts co-curricular activities which students can take part in. Whether that’s sports, community engagement, volunteering and pro bono, or the traditional mooting, debating and negotiating competitions, there is no doubt that something is available for everyone to participate in.

Furthermore, the Student Union offers hundreds of societies for students to engage with. In my opinion, if someone goes through a degree without being involved in at least one society, they are missing out on the full university experience.

In addition, there are also student representative and ambassador roles in more of an administrative atmosphere if activities, sports and other societies aren’t fulfilling enough.

I personally have participated in the internal mooting and negotiations competitions, one external mooting competition, and a volunteering commitment that is unaffiliated with the university. I am also the Student Representative for my program year as well as a Student Forum Ambassador for the Law School.

What do you think about Leeds as a city?

Leeds is a city that is filled with students. It’s often called a little London and is comparable to other major cities. It’s a great night out, there’s always something new to explore. the end of the day. It is what you make of it and I don’t regret my decision of coming here.

What would you say to anyone thinking of applying to your course?

Do it. Take the leap, step out of your comfort zone and commit to your decision. My decision to drop everything and come to Leeds was fairly impulsive and it most likely did change the trajectory of my life, but it’s fun and I’m enjoying myself so I can’t ask for much more.

With respect to the course, it is hard. Understand what you’re signing up for, but also understand that it’s supposed to be challenging. Take a step back and evaluate why you’re pursuing a higher education degree. Is it career focused in that you want to find yourself behind a desk at your favourite law firm, or is it progress focused in that you want to initiate change and better yourself as a person? Law school, or any university course, isn’t just about aiming for the 1st and sorting through career options, it’s also about evolving as an individual.

What do you plan to do once you’ve finished your course? 

I’m hoping to obtain a training contract with a firm in the UK because of the international opportunities available here. If that doesn’t happen, then I’ll likely venture back to Toronto, become qualified, and gain some legal experience wherever I can. Furthermore, with the way the legal industry is coming to rely on new technological innovations to combat outdated methods, I am even toying with the idea of a legal-tech start-up.

Any other comment you would like to make?

As a graduate, I can compare my previous university with Leeds, and I have to say they are worlds apart. I was always told that university is a place where no one cares about you. Professors and lecturers are there for their own research and teaching takes a secondary priority.  I have to say that at Leeds everyone does care, and teaching is the primary objective. The School produces brilliant, educated and well-rounded individuals and its clear that everyone here is ready to support you and watch you succeed. I know that I don’t regret my decision of coming here.