Former Head Girl, Clemmie B, was at Langley between 2010 and 2014, taking A Level History, Law and Geography, before going on to study Law at the University of Liverpool. In this interview, Clemmie gives a fascinating insight into the Sixth Form experience and how school helped prepare her for her career.
Tell us, during your time at Langley, in which activities, societies and trips were you involved?
While I was at Langley, my most memorable extra-curricular activity was being part of the debating society, and I continued to be part of a debating team at University. I was a prefect from Year 11 and then was absolutely thrilled to be Head Girl in Upper Sixth.
I was lucky enough to go on several trips during my time at the school. My most memorable were Iceland in Year 11, the New York and Washington trip in Lower Sixth, the Auschwitz visit in that same year, and going to The Gambia in Upper Sixth.
Have any of the above been useful within your career and given you transferable skills?
I believe my role as Head Girl while studying for my A-levels enhanced my organisational skills, hardworking nature, and ability to work well both independently and as part of a team, all the while using my initiative in everyday issues. These skills have been vital to succeed not just at University but also in my career, as they made me extremely self-motivated and reliable.
Debating is a fundamental skill when entering the legal world. It taught me a lot about public speaking and confidence, as well as interpersonal and communication skills. Further skills I have developed from debating range from constructing and delivering speeches, researching and investigating both sides of an argument and then, with this information, being able to communicate effectively to an audience. This has allowed me to be a confident speaker in the day to day administrative tasks, such as phone calls or other meetings I may attend, where I have to think on my feet. In areas of Criminal law, the technique of researching and investigating of every minor point is also invaluable.
Where are you now in your career and what have been the highlights?
I only started ‘real life’ in October last year. After I graduated in 2018, I then had to do my Legal Practice Course, which is a year of study required if following a path to become a solicitor. I finished in May 2019 and then started applying for training contracts/paralegal roles. However, I made it very difficult for myself as I had job offers elsewhere in the country, but I decided I wanted to be in the heart of the legal world in London. This, as you can imagine, was extremely difficult as I was trying to break into one of the most competitive professions, in the most competitive city. The hard work and endless applications finally paid off and now I feel extremely lucky to be working in a firm where I can deal in both Civil and Criminal litigation.
My highlights are that every day is different. One minute I will be helping in a murder case, the next I will be helping in searches on someone’s property transaction. Additionally, weekly trips to the Royal Courts of Justice really make me feel like I am part of something important (even if I am just dropping off court bundles.)
On reflection, did your time at Langley School help inform your career choices and your attitude to your career progression?
Completely. My school prior to Langley told me I had to accept that I ‘would never be an A* student, doctor or lawyer.’ From day one, at 13 years old, Langley made me see I was capable of achieving more than I had previously thought I could.
I had the most wonderful set of teachers, and this kind of relationship was not something I got at University (due to there being 500 people on my course), so make the most if it. The reason I am in my career today is because of my law teacher Mr Read. I never thought I was capable of such a career but his constant support and passion for it made me want to follow this path and I fell in love with the subject.
Is there any advice you would like to give to students currently considering whether to join Langley?
I could probably write an entire dissertation on this question alone but to keep it short my key points would be:
- Why wouldn’t you want to join a school where you get such one on one tuition? During my A-Levels my biggest class was six people. A-Levels are hard, I even found them harder than my law degree, so that support from teachers is needed. They would meet you any lunchtime or after school if you asked.
- The activities after academic teaching finishes: I still have not met anyone else whose school offers this. The amount of things I have slipped into conversation in interviews about extra circular activities I did (even if I just did them for one term) has been so useful. I would never have been involved in debating without the activity session offered at Langley, and this is without a doubt the most asked about thing in interviews.
- The beautiful grounds the school is built on: need I say more?
- The facilities: I was part of the year group that got to be the first to move into the Sixth Form block and it was a perfect environment to have a bit of distance from the main school.
What about advice for those choosing or starting their A-Levels?
Although I studied law because I wanted to pursue that career, most people at University study something that had nothing to do with their A-levels, so don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Make sure you study what you enjoy and will likely do well in.
And do you have any career choices advice?
I lived with eight people at University and I was the only one who actually knew what they wanted to do afterwards, so don’t worry or feel you have to know exactly what your five-year plan looks like. Most people fall into a job after University into roles that they never knew existed and it ends up being their dream job. Try to get as much work experience in different areas to know what you do/don’t want to end up doing and build your CV.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I have nothing but good memories of Langley and good things to say about the school. I was so honoured to be Head Girl and hope I get to keep going back to visit.