The Evolutionary Approach to Enforcing the Law

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‘It is always the first thing I am asked about in interviews, and always the main thing I talk about’ – Law student Angela explains what working on the UG Research Scholarship this summer has meant to her.

During the summer, I was fortunate to participate in research supervised by Dr Gulara Guliyeva. There were two aspects to her project: The first concerned human rights of marginalised groups, and the second, international monitoring bodies, and the impact these can have on ensuring member states comply with law.

Saying I was excited to start would be an understatement. I have always had a keen interest in human rights (this is what actually led to me wanting to become a lawyer in the first place) and I had never done anything like this before, so I decided to do a lot of preliminary research in preparation.

Going into my first meeting, I was a little nervous, because being the only student working on it, meant there was a lot of responsibility, but because of my preparation, I felt relatively confident. However, I did not anticipate the human rights part of her project would largely be completed by the time I was due to start. I guess I should not have been surprised. One thing my law degree has taught me (and having to always buy the most up-to-date, expensive textbooks every year) is that the law never stands still!

The European Court of Human Rights
The European Court of Human Rights

Despite this, I was still able to become involved in that area of law– I was asked to research if there were any recent cases concerning Ukrainian human rights property infringements, arising out of the conflict with Russia. I found this particularly interesting, because ironically, as much as I like human rights, I have never used their website in depth for research before! Learning to navigate this was difficult, but extremely rewarding.

Moreover, I footnoted the final draft paper. I learned how to properly structure a journal article, but the most rewarding part was being able to read what Dr Gulara had been working on, which inspired me to consider a post-graduate course, something I had never before considered.

Overall though, my work primarily concerned analysing the effects of monitoring organisations. Initially, my progress was slow. I felt unprepared because I had not done any research on this area of law. The change in direction was definitely one that was not expected, so as a result I convinced myself the work was impossible. Looking back, it is clear I was not in the right head-space. All I did to overcome my disengagement was to dedicate the first week to reading in the library. This should have been something I am very good at, being a law student, this is something I do all day, every day!

Image of full library
Despite the vast amount of material available, I realised the importance of taking the time to find sources of value, as opposed to finding many merely to fill your bibliography.

After that first week, I began to understand the law a lot more, and it was then that my interest really began to expand. The fact this scheme taught me to remain open-minded throughout, is one of many reasons that made me really appreciate my involvement. What I have always found the most intriguing and exciting thing about the law, is that you can never be an expert in it – only an expert in an area of the law. It is so diverse, and you will always be faced with unfamiliar ideas. Here, I was introduced to an area of law I would never have had the opportunity to learn about in the normal course of my degree.

Overall, the scheme was rewarding to me, in so many ways. Firstly, the independence to find my own opinion, when faced with so many contradicting views, I was extremely grateful for. I was surprised by this, because usually I feel a lot more secure when told exactly what to do. The law is never black and white, so being able to express yourself (with supporting evidence of course) is an invaluable skill to have.

Secondly, the most surprising part of the scheme, was not so much the work itself, but the consequences it had. This summer, I have been applying for training contracts. Ask any law student, I guarantee you the same sense of frustration and stress will pass over their faces. It is very competitive, and difficult to stand out. Of the hundreds of firms, I was applying to, my application kept being rejected.

Since amending my CV to include my involvement with this project, not only did it make me stand out, but I think my enthusiasm shone through, which proved to potential future employers that I am genuinely interested about the law. It is always the first thing I am asked about in interviews, and always the main thing I talk about. Not only am I proud of the work I have done, but I am excited to see where this can take me in the future.

It is for these reasons that I would strongly recommend anyone thinking about applying. It was an invaluable experience, and I am grateful to have been given the opportunity to be a part of it.

Angela Pelosi, LLB Law

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