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I’m Roma McKenzie from South Yorkshire where I study at St Brendan’s Roman Catholic Sixth Form College. I gained 9 GCSEs in History, English Language, English Literature, Mathematics, Geography, French, Spanish, German and Physics.

I these subjects have given me a broad education base which will put me in good stead in understanding the world and tackling problems. My school believes in educating people for life with all its difficult issues and I feel that I am a more rounded person as a result.

Before my A-level examinations I carried out work experience with Barnards, a law firm in my home town, where I was given the job of Office Junior during my last summer holidays. I did some straightforward administrative work and some casework which several solicitors gave me. This included phoning clients to make appointments, writing some reminder letters and filing and photocopying papers. They let me attend a few case conferences where I took notes and gained an insight into how to run litigation cases. The cases were mainly personal injury claims which involved people affected by various accidents – on the road, at work or in public places. Other cases included breach of copyright and equal pay claims which were mind-bogglingly complicated and involved low-paid workers trying to compare themselves with higher paid workers by saying they were doing work of equal value. There was an awful lot of detail to go through including years of employment records. All in all, it was a positive experience in as I saw how lawyers work and I was able to get a good taste of the profession.

My A-Levels were in History (A), English Literature (B) and English History (B). I enjoyed studying Shakespeare, Hardy and Miller in English Literature finding their works stimulating. Thomas Hardy is a very affective writer who described his native Wessex very beautifully and the situations that his characters got into very vividly. As for Shakespeare, I played Lady Macbeth in the school’s production of Macbeth! In English History I studied the Tudors and Stuarts, and Europe between the Reformation and Enlightenment periods. This was a very turbulent and violent period. In Philosophy I studied the thoughts of Nietzsche, whose theory of Superman inspired the Nazis, and Descartes who is famous for the phrase ‘I think therefore I am’. He was the first of the existentialists, another being Jean-Paul Sartre whom I found tedious and pretentious. I wasn’t impressed with his Nausea which has no plot and is hard to draw any conclusions from. In contrast Anthony Grayling the Oxford Philosopher came to talk at my school and I found he put over simple ideas of philosophy very effectively and with good humour, while relating the ideas to everyday life.

I also took part in the debating society where we formed teams of two to put the case for or against a variety of motions. The topics included abortion, civil liberties, cuts in the public services, euthanasia, and the blockade of Gaza. In the last of these I put the case that the blockade was a breach of human rights and a deprivation of statehood. This was hotly contested but my partner and I won the debate!

This debating experience, including the preparation of cases for and against motions, has given me advocacy skills which will be very useful in my future career as a lawyer. To begin with, I want to join a law school which will guide me through my career and give me the skills to be an effective lawyer. I wish to take part in a curriculum which is broad and that will give me a good grasp of what it is to be a lawyer. Sheffield Hallam University has this range, and its reputation in the legal world is strong. It has produced many fine lawyers who have gone on to impressive careers in the public arena and as advisers to major corporations as well as the general public.

The LLB degree will give me the edge in any competitive situation including in litigation. It is in this field that I wish to specialise after qualifying, having had a foretaste at Barnards law firm. The areas of personal injury and intellectual property, including copyright, appeal to me most as they are intellectually challenging and demanding. I believe I have what it takes to make a success of my studies at Sheffield Hallam.


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