Skip to main navigation Skip to main content
The University of Southampton
Southampton Law School Our alumni

Dr Yan Li LLM Maritime Law

Solicitor - Ince & Co

Dr Yan Li's Photo

Southampton offers one of the best LLM courses in maritime law, so I decided to choose this as my major. That turned out to be one of the best decisions I have ever made.

Why did you decide to study for the LLM at the University of Southampton?

I came to Southampton University with a plan to study an LLM in commercial law originally. After I arrived, I heard that in fact Southampton offers one of the best LLM courses in maritime law, so I decided to choose maritime law as my major in the end. That turns out to be one of the best decisions I have ever made since it was so interesting and the professors at the time taught the subjects really well and introduced maritime law from a very practical perspective.

At which point did you decide which career path to follow? And how did your study influence this?

I did my Chinese law degree at East China University of Politics & Law in Shanghai before I came to do my LLM (in Maritime Law) and then PhD (in International Trade Law) with a full scholarship from Southampton University. I always knew I was going to become a lawyer but I never dreamed of becoming an English solicitor nor did I know how.

It was during the second year of my PhD, I attended some career advice presentations given by our law school career advisor, Jan Steele who introduced to me how the legal profession works in the UK and how to apply for a training contract; then, I started to learn how to write my CV and complete application forms. With the help of Jan, I started to attend law fairs to learn more about the City law firms and then after a few interviews, I was offered a training contract by Ince & Co who also sponsored me to do the solicitor training course, GDL and LPC. It was a dream come true and I couldn’t believe it myself.

My LLM study and PhD study at Southampton certainly provided me with a good basic and overall understanding of maritime law. I have been and will always be very grateful to Southampton who gave me the opportunity.

How did you find your first role after the LLM, and how do you feel that your time at the University of Southampton helped to prepare you for this?

After LLM, I was offered a full scholarship by Southampton to do a PhD in International Trade Law with Professor Charles Debattista. Then I did GDL and LPC with College of Law (now University of Law). The LLM study helped me know at a very early stage that maritime law is the area of law I am most interested in and would like to practise as a career. Then I started my job as a trainee solicitor with Ince & Co.

My LLM and PhD studies at Southampton gave me some useful tools in relation to legal research which is always important in legal practice when advising clients.

What are the highlights of your role, and have you experienced any particular challenges?

The highlights of my role was to fly over to Brazil and Germany to go onboard the ships to interview Chinese crew after some incidents occurred. It was exciting to see everything in real life and also see myself become helpful to real people in real difficulties. That was the first time I had a real sense of pride and honour as to how important our profession means to people in need and what we can do to become helpful. I was very proud of being a member of a team to assist the investigation of those incidents.

What top tips would you give to current LLM students?

Make the best use of every opportunity on offer, also study hard to learn as much as you can but of course enjoy it as well.

Be open minded and attend the activities offered by the course such as professional inductions, training contract application seminars and career talks provided.

Get as much experience as you can, for example, if there is any work experience or internship opportunities offered by P&I Clubs or trading companies associated with the University, do not hesitate, do have a go. You never know what opportunity that door might open to you.

One example, I can give is from a colleague of mine working for our Ince Beijing office. Her classmate attended an LLM career talk I gave a few years ago and passed on my business card to her, so she knew we were opening our Beijing office and would recruit some new graduates. She followed it up and contacted our HR and got an interview in the end and the job. She told me she almost missed the chance since she was doing her exam preparation at the time and didn’t manage to attend the talk but she was lucky that her classmate did attend and passed on the information to her. So you never know what opportunities are waiting out there for you. That’s the amazing and exciting aspect of our LLM course at Southampton. You just need to be open minded to learn and allow that to happen.

What did you enjoy the most about your study at the University of Southampton?

What I enjoyed the most is the opportunities Southampton offered me, not just the legal knowledge but also the practical insight about the legal industry in England. It offered me a new life including how to find my career path. In particular, Southampton even provided me the scholarship to do my PhD with one of the best professors at law school. So everything here is amazing. I love Southampton, the school and the people here. I can say China is my motherland but Southampton is my hometown. I will always have a sense of belonging to this very special place.

Share Share this on Facebook Share this on Twitter Share this on Weibo
Privacy Settings