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Southampton Law School Our alumni

Bill Montague , 1980

Senior Partner at Dexter Montague LLP, Reading

Bill Montague's Photo

Hi, I'm Bill Montague and I studied within Southampton Law School at the University of Southampton.

The Law course and my experiences at University were fundamental in shaping the course, which my career took, and in developing my interest and passion in access to justice, and my wider worldview.

For alumnus Bill Montague the time he spent studying his Law degree at the University of Southampton played a critical part in determining the direction of his future career.

"The Law course and my experiences at University were fundamental in shaping the course which my career took and in developing my interest and passion in access to justice, not to mention my wider world view," said Bill, who is now a Senior Partner in one of Berkshire’s leading law firms – Dexter Montague LLP. The firm prides itself on being a ‘high street’ style practice in the heart of the community providing a wide range of legal services for individuals, businesses and community organisations.

Bill says he has always had an interest in pursuing a career in a community legal practice and credits his time at Southampton with being pivotal to fulfilling that career path.

He decided to apply to Southampton due to the strong reputation of its Law School and the opportunity it provided to study law from a socio-legal perspective.

"I hugely enjoyed my time in Southampton both academically and on the extra-curricular side. I took full advantage of the wide-ranging options available, covering core subjects, as well as those of special interest to me such as the sociology of law, labour law and poverty law," he said.

"I also did an in-depth study of law in the context of housing and planning policy through a dissertation on Housing Action Areas, an early attempt to improve housing conditions in deprived areas. I also got involved with the University’s legal advice clinic," he added.

When Bill graduated an economic recession and an under-supply of training contracts meant his ambition had to be put on hold and he ended up obtaining a training contract with a commercial law firm. "However, over time, due to flexible and supportive employers and my determination not to lose sight of my long-term aims, I developed a wide personal experience of legal practice, including housing law that enabled me eventually to set up a local community legal practice," he said.

The firm has expanded and evolved over time, but remains committed to its early guiding principles. Although handling mainly property work these days, Bill is still involved with housing law in his firm. He has also pursued a long-standing interest in legal aid policy, both as an author and in representing the legal profession nationally through Legal Aid Practitioners’ Group of which he is a former Chair.

"I would definitely recommend Southampton as a good place to study Law. It has a strong Law School, is a first division university and is set in a wonderful location.

"Today’s students embarking on a career in Law face a time of unprecedented change and challenges in the legal services market. My advice to them would be to use their time at Southampton as an opportunity not only to develop their academic grasp of law and the legal system, but also to gain an understanding of the wider contemporary context. They also need to consider best how they can match their personal aims and motivation to the reality of legal practice.

"For someone wishing to pursue a career as a solicitor in publicly funded legal services or a community-based firm, they need to be well-grounded and dedicated to a limb of the profession which requires a strong vocation and combines the ‘common touch’ with business acumen. The financial rewards may be modest compared with other areas of legal practice, but job satisfaction can be high. Lord Mackay, a former Lord Chancellor, once referred to solicitors as the gatekeepers of our justice system. When you stand at the front line of access to justice, you’re reminded daily of how important that role is,” said Bill.

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