Bren McCarthy

Bren McCarthy

Please tell us a bit about yourself and your background.

With a place to study Law at the University of Leeds secured, I took some time out to embark upon a backpacking trip around Thailand, Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong. It was one of the best experiences of my life to date, and it put me in a great frame of mind to take advantage of every opportunity that is presented to me.

Upon my return, I soon arrived at the School of Law and three years later I graduated with a law degree. I loved my time in the School so much that I decided to work in the School as a contract law module assistant and a student engagement officer for the following academic year.  

I then moved to London to complete my LPC before commencing my training contract with Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.

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

I had always enjoyed detective programmes growing up and this led me on to study Criminal Law at A level. Following this, different areas of law started to interest me and before I knew it, I was applying to study Law at University.

The University of Leeds ticked all the boxes for me:

  • A great campus with a thriving student city right on its doorstep
  • High quality sports facilities
  • Well respected and highly regarded by employers and law firms

The School of Law itself was very impressive:

  • A diverse department with leading academics
  • A strong focus on ‘teaching’ balanced with high level research
  • A well-resourced student Law Society
  • Strong relationships with some of the most prestigious law firms in the world
  • The Liberty Building was striking

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

The LLB course is challenging and a lot is expected of you, but this probably does not come as much of a surprise. The course was designed to teach you a new way of thinking, rather than just empowering you with knowledge. I learnt to never take things at face value and to always question things and ask ‘why’.

From an academic point of view, the highlight of the course was the final year dissertation. It provided the flexibility to focus on a specific area of law of our choice and the time to explore the topic in great depth. It combines all the skills you have learnt over the three years into one piece of work. Going to get it bound was a proud moment.

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

Support, whether it is personal, academic or career focused, is always available in the School and the staff genuinely want to help. Support extends beyond the staff with student mentors and the careers mentoring programme, where you get matched with a practicing lawyer based on your careers aspirations.

How would you describe the facilities at the University?

There's continuous development and investment into the university.  The Liberty Building is impressive and it is nice to have a 'hub' - a real community feel. In my role as LawSoc President I've worked with the Head of School to bring a new common area to the school.

Have you been involved in extra-curricular activities, such as societies, summer placements etc? How have these enhanced your experience at the university?

In my final year I was elected as President of the Law Society. The Society prides itself on providing a full university experience. The seventeen committee members strives to bring the best of both worlds to its members – career development balanced with a bursting social calendar.

The society works with over 30 sponsors placing it in a strong financial position and improving the quality of the events it provides. Joining LawSoc provides students with increased exposure to global and local law firms. The pinnacle of the careers calendar is the Annual Careers Dinner, where representatives from different firms and chambers have their own table. The Academic Academy, comprising of Negotiating, Debating and Mooting, engages with over 250 students and has seen the Society compete in various external competitions.

The social calendar consists of a range of events, including: club nights, theatre trips, European city breaks, bowling and international buffet nights. In collaboration with the School of Law the Society also holds an annual ‘Laws Got Talent’ event, celebrating the talent within the School.

The Annual Law Ball is another social highlight. In 2016, we took a trip to the world of Gatsby and we transformed the Queens Hotel Ballroom into the 1920’s. The night was full of surprises, including dance acts, a big band and a surprise performance from ‘Sigala’ at the private after-party.

As a result of our success we were awarded ‘Society of the Year’ at the NUS National Society Awards. This was a huge achievement and something of which I am incredibly proud. I thoroughly enjoyed my role as President, and it is safe to say that being part of the Law Society made my university experience unforgettable.

Any other comments you would like to make?

The School of Law at the University of Leeds has developed me in so many ways and has set me up for a bright future.