Michael Berry

Country: United Kingdom
Sector: Higher Education
Job title: Masters of Public Administration Student
Subject of study: Law
Year of graduation: 2019
Type/Level of study: Undergraduate

Current Employer/Organisation Name

University College London

What have you been doing since leaving Exeter, and what are you doing now?

I have had quite the unique experience following the conclusion of my degree. As a care leaver leaving university I was faced with the prospects of homelessness as I had no family or job to move onto. However, with the outstanding support from the University of Exeter I was able to move back to Plymouth to begin my exploration into the legal world. In September 2018 I moved to Plymouth where I begun working as a Real Estate Paralegal for the Legal 500 law firm Womble Bond Dickinson. I worked there on a temporary basis for three months until I had the opportunity to move to Stuttgart, Germany. Here I finished my dissertation (subsequently being awarded a 75!) whilst simultaneously learning German. I was faced with an unfortunate period of bad luck following my time in Stuttgart as I was initially due to work in the legal department of Bombardier in Berlin. However, the firm was restructuring and thus my offer was rescinded. I lived in Dresden for 4 months improving my German whilst working as an Administration Assistant as a local German surgery. Returning to England I then took up my second tenure as a Paralegal for the same department at Womble Bond Dickinson for six months, before being offered a new job as a Litigation Paralegal at the Exeter based law firm Everys Solicitors. I started my first day during the first week of the Covid-19 pandemic national lockdown. Throughout this time period I applied for a dream Masters (Masters of Public Administration in Innovation, Public Value and Public Policy) at University College London (UCL), as this was more inline with the policy based academic and practical work I wished to pursue as a future career in enhancing social mobility in the UK and Europe. Not only was I fortunate enough to be accepted onto the course, I was also offered a £10,000 scholarship to undertake the work (The Bartlett Scholarship). At the time of writing I have accepted and enrolled onto the Masters. I currently live in Exeter whilst studying online due to the restrictions of movement and close contact brought on my the Covid-19 pandemic.

Why did you choose this career? And what do you enjoy most about your work?

I feel I have a greater affinity with public policy, economics, and legal based work due to my personal background as a child in care, and my work within social mobility during university. Whilst I am enthusiastic about the law, I find that I had a stronger connection in the academic side of law, and finding ways of implementing the law in a macro level to influence policy in the UK and Europe. Therefore, the Masters that I am currently enrolled on gave me an opportunity to utilize my personal experience in care, my legal background and my desire to influence policy to enhance social mobility all into one avenue. The Masters exposes me to the figure heads and policy leaders tasked with developing innovative policy to enhance the economic and social wellbeing of citizens, with a predominant focus of economics and the built environment. I have the opportunity to interact with government ministers, local authorities, and private institutions around the world to help advice and mould policy as a result of my research. It is a highly empowering and fulling Masters.

Please tell us if you were a member of any societies, groups or sports clubs?

I was a member of Bracton Law Society, and Enactus Exeter. I was also Founder of Avolve prior to its assimilation into the Student’s Guild as its own society.

What did you enjoy most about your programme and what was the biggest highlight?

The LLB was a challenging course with high expectations from the tutors and lecturers at the law school. There is one individual lecturer that I feel I must highlight; Dr Rachel Gimson. Rachel provided me the the understanding and unconditional support to ensure that I could complete my degree to the standard that I was truly capable, despite my personal and difficult challenges. Advocating on my behalf to allow for me to defer my dissertation due to personal reasons, Rachel fought hard to ensure that I completed my dissertation to a high standard; was provided the support necessary; and provided me with emotional support and time to get me through the difficult task. Her tenacity and belief in me is probably the reason why I achieved such a high grade in my dissertation, demonstrating to me that I was able to achieve a high standard of work, and perceive legal academia as a realistic career path. She is a titan at the University of Exeter and feel I am forever indebted to her for my current and future successes.

What did you enjoy most about studying here?

The academic calibre of the staff and the ability to challenge you without overwhelming. I was able to build good relationships with members of staff were offered a genuine interest in supporting me throughout my studies.

Why did you choose to study at Exeter?

To be completely forthright I wanted to attend the University of Exeter as it was an astounding university that was close to my home. The campus is beautiful; very unique. It wasn’t until I did more research whilst at the university that I understood that the significance of its’ Russel Group status. Furthermore, the University of Exeter offered a full tuition fee waiver scholarship for care leavers entering university thanks to the support of the Buttle Trust. This meant that I would graduate university without the heavy tuition fee allocated to higher education. The university had demonstrated its phenomenal support for care leavers, supporting me with living costs in the form of further grants.

What skills and experiences have been most useful for your career?

I wouldn’t necessarily say that I currently have a “career” so to speak. I am speak in the process of grafting the foundations of a career. What I can address is the skills and experiences that have been useful to me up to this point so far. I would say that the The University of Exeter’s law course is very hard. The staff have very high expectations of you as many, if not all of them, have either practiced in law, or other institutions that require a legal mind. I was forced to be more critical in my thinking and research skills, providing substantial analysis and evidence to substantiate my essays. This has enabled me to enter into the legal profession with the necessary legal analysis needed to make a case.

What advice would you give to a current student who wishes to pursue your career?

Do not ever hesitate to ask for help. I truly believe that there is no such thing as a “self made person” as there is always someone in your life that enabled you to get to the place that you are today, and will help you to get to the place you want to be tomorrow. My experience at the University of Exeter is the primary evidence for this. Once I reached out and was open with the university about wanting help, it was offered. Once I asked for help my grades and emotional demeanour improved exponentially.

What are your plans for the future?

Thanks to the guidance and support of the University of Exeter I am now wishing to undertake my PhD researching property wealth, law, and distribution, and the capturing of economic rent and the impact of social mobility in the UK and Europe.


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