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Lyubomira Midelieva LLB Law, 2017. Winner of the Gerald Dworkin Prize for Best Performance in Intellectual Property, 2017

Future Trainee Solicitor at Reed Smith LLP

Lyubomira Midelieva's Photo

I chose Southampton because it is a Russell Group university with very good reputation for Law, and I liked the city’s size and location.

Before I came to the UK from Bulgaria I was not familiar with law as an academic subject - I had never studied it before and my lecturers quickly triggered my passion for the subject. Undertaking a law degree is perhaps the best decisions I have ever made, given how much it contributed to my personal and professional development.

The Freshers’ period is among my most memorable times at Southampton. It introduced me to a diverse body of students. The new friends I made and the fact that we were almost constantly together, given that we all lived in halls, fundamentally eased my transition. The on-going talks and events also helped, as they provided me with all the information I needed to adjust to the new environment.

The highlights during my study were participating in Streetlaw in my second year: I was pleased to see many of the students my team presented to ask questions and express an interest in studying law. Undertaking a law degree is perhaps the best decisions I have ever made, given how much it contributed to my personal and professional development. Therefore, I like to think that my teams’ Streetlaw presentation proved to college students that law is not as dry and hard as they may imagine.

I really enjoyed writing my dissertation in my final year. Perhaps like most students, I approached my dissertation with fear. However, the support, enthusiasm and expertise of my supervisor quickly inspired my research and writing. I ended up enjoying writing the dissertation and developed a strong interest in the topic I had picked: the law relating to the concept of ‘copyright work’. I was pleased with both my mark and my supervisor’s proposal to turn my dissertation into a published article.

In my final year, I obtained the highest mark in the Intellectual Property Law summative coursework. Thanks to our IP lecturer’s commitment to helping students, my coursework was subsequently published as a journal article in the European Intellectual Property Review. I thoroughly enjoyed writing the coursework, as the topic we were given was quite relevant. I was also pleased to be published in a legal journal, where my arguments and suggestions could be read by academics and practitioners.

In my final year, I chose to study Intellectual Property Law. I developed a strong interest in the subject and was fascinated by how relevant it is to modern developments. I also admired our lecturer’s passion for IP. I ended up performing well and was pleased to win the Gerald Dworkin Prize for Best Performance in Intellectual Property. The prize consists of what is perhaps most valuable to students and graduates, given how hard securing legal placements can be - a one-week work experience at leading global law firm CMS. To make things even better, the prize-winner sits in CMS’s Media department and the supervising partner is a leading figure in IP! I truly enjoyed my experience and developed an even greater passion for IP.

Throughout my studies I was member of the Law Society. This presented me with the opportunity to participate in mooting and negotiation competitions. Frankly, I was not too eager to sign up for such competitions- I had always been insecure about public speaking! However, I knew I had to- becoming more confident was one of the reasons I chose to study law. So, I signed up. Initially, I was quite daunted. After a couple of rounds, however, the judges’ efforts to comfort participants and provide them with constructive feedback eased my fear. Looking back now, I truly enjoyed participating, it was also key to increasing my confidence- something I really needed to be able to have my voice heard, express my opinions and develop relationships.

In my penultimate year, I volunteered as a PASS Mentor for first year law students. Mentorship entailed running a team-building session for the students, organising meetings with them, helping them with the ‘Clyde & Co’ challenge and answering any queries they may have. It required me to take up a leadership role- something I had not done before. This changed the way I worked in a team. Before, I would usually revert to a passive role. The experience equipped me with the confidence needed to take the lead and encourage others. This has enabled me to more confidently share my ideas with other team members, encourage others and, overall, enjoy team work more.

I have taken part in mooting and negotiation competitions organised by the university’s Law Society. Participation refined my communication skills and enhanced my ability to present arguments in a clear, persuasive manner. These skills were instrumental to me performing well at law firms’ assessment centres.

In my second year, I participated in Streetlaw. My team had to prepare a presentation on a law-related topic and present at the Hitchin College. The experience enhanced my team work skills and my confidence at public speaking. These skills are sought after by law firms, so they have helped me convince employers that I would make a good solicitor and boosted my performance at group exercises and presentations, which often feature at assessment centres.

I volunteered for the university’s Small Business Clinic from October 2015 until March 2017. My responsibilities included researching legal, fiscal and general commercial questions. The research skills I developed helped me perform research tasks I was given throughout my vacation schemes with Clyde & Co, CMS and Reed Smith.  I also attended client meetings and had to take notes throughout. After the meetings, I had to consolidate my notes to draft a final version of the Clinic’s advice that would be later sent to clients. Being present at the meetings, which were led by an experienced consultant and entrepreneur, Ronald Tang, taught me how to approach clients- a skill that will be essential to my future legal career. Preparing the final versions of the advice taught me how to draft the succinct responses clients demand. This was acknowledged during my vacation schemes, where my supervisors commented that I use excellent tone and structure when asked to draft e-mails to clients. Overall, the work I did for the Clinic and the fact that Renold often shared his extensive business experience with the volunteers equipped me with the commercial awareness sought by law firms and were essential to me performing well at vacation scheme/training contract interviews.

During the Employability Week incorporated into the second year LLB programme I was able to attend talks with various law firms. This gave me an idea as to what skills law firms are looking for and what type of firm I wanted to join, which helped me approach applying with a clear strategy in mind and eventually secure a training contract. I was also able to speak to Reed Smith employees at the annual Law Fairs. This enhanced my understanding of the firm and also contributed to me securing a training contract with it.

I most enjoyed how knowledgeable and passionate my lecturers were about their subjects. Before I came to the UK from Bulgaria I was not familiar with law as an academic subject- I had never studied it before and my research prior to coming to Southampton was not too extensive. Once I came, however, my lecturers quickly triggered my passion for the subject. I felt privileged to be taught by academics who were leaders in their fields. Their enthusiasm was truly contagious. The expertise they were able to convey was instrumental to me achieving the results I did. They presented the material clearly and accessibly, and, by incorporating the occasional joke, made lectures enjoyable.

I also enjoyed that law, as a subject, requires critical examination and analysis of contrasting scenarios, which gave me a well-rounded perspective of the world.

Attending the annual Law Fair in my second and third year taught me how to network efficiently and equipped me with information about law firms I later used when applying.

Southampton is a vibrant student town. It boasts many beautiful places where you can take a break from studying, my favourites were the Southampton Common, Ocean Village and, of course, the Highfield Campus! There are also plenty of opportunities to have fun and socialise, especially given the number of new restaurants, bars and shopping centres currently opening. Whilst offering all this, Southampton feels safe, perhaps because of the big student community. It is also easy to get to places- the university bus line has a stop virtually everywhere!

My advice to students would be to approach things open-mindedly! Southampton can offer wide-ranging opportunities and introduce you to a diversity of interesting, young individuals. Do not be afraid to try things you had not tried before and meet new people. Take advantage of opportunities. Give things a go. Trying different things is essential to discovering what you enjoy most/are best at. Once you discover your interests and talents lie, do not be afraid to pursue them and believe in your potential.  You can be the president of the Union/ the winner of academic prizes/ the captain of a sports team... if you put enough effort and organise your time well! With the risk of sounding quite boring, during my time at Southampton I discovered that my greatest interests and talents were in studying law. In the beginning of my course, I did not even dream about winning academic prizes or performing best in my class, but knew that the least I can do is try. I endeavoured to make the most of my potential and if I can do it, you sure can too. To reiterate, just discover what you are best at and pursue it fearlessly.

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