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The University of Southampton
Southampton Law School Our alumni

Sarita Riley LLB Law, 1994

Service Lead: Legal Partnership - Southampton & Fareham Legal Services Partnership

Sarita Riley's Photo

My experience at the University of Southampton helped me grow in confidence and assertiveness and develop the skills needed to lead and coach others both as part of a team and, later in a leadership role.

During my time at the Law School I was exposed to a wide variety of legal subjects and some excellent tutors who challenged perceptions and assumptions – it made me really think about the practical application of law rather than precedent based learning. While I have always been confident in my knowledge and abilities, my experience at the University of Southampton  helped me grow in confidence and assertiveness and develop the skills needed to lead and coach others both as part of a team and, later, in a leadership role. The softer skills developed through team working, drafting and negotiating  put theoretical knowledge into practice in a fast paced and pressurised office environment and to manage time and performance more effectively.

In 2017 I was a finalist for ‘Lawyers In Local Government Legal Professional of the Year 2017’ and led the project team to win the ‘Lawyers In Local Government Project Team of the Year 2017’ (This was for work leading on major projects including a garden village project building whole new sustainable town, major regenerations schemes delivering social housing and economic / employment zones and skills centres, development of major commercial facilities at West Quay and a number of innovative environmental and commercialisation projects within the Council’s we support).

I also led a project to  develop and implement a system of Internships and legal apprenticeships to support qualification by equivalent means rather than the traditional trainee solicitor route within the Council. That has been  adopted as a model for internships and apprenticeships across the Council.

My advice to Southampton Law students would be; be flexible and adaptable and  embrace every opportunity to develop work and practical experience you can.  This increases the main USP you have to separate yourself from your  peers. Demonstrating a commitment through paid or pro bono work in the legal sector, and coming into an office with an understanding of how a professional workplace operates sets an applicant head and shoulders above the competition. It also demonstrates some degree of life skills and enthusiasm and a pro-active approach to starting a career in law.

You may end up in a field a million miles from where you thought your career would go, but never dismiss a subject you study – I never thought I’d use Admiralty law in local government but I’ve arrested a ship and worked with the navy and port on nuclear submarine berths. It’s surprising what you may find yourself doing when you least expect it.

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