Mark Hopwell, LLB Law, 1996
What are you doing now; tell us about your role and your journey since graduation?
Back in 1993 I was part of the second intake onto the brand new Law degree at Derby. I was a mature student without any serious qualifications from my school education back in the 1970’s and arrived filled with dread at being amongst truly intelligent (and much younger) people.
I needn't have worried though. My excitement, enthusiasm and ‘newness’ was matched by the whole Law department and faculty as they embarked on their own journey to excellence. We were all swept along with the feeling of having ownership and involvement in making Law at the University of Derby something special.
When I graduated in 1996 I went to Bar School in London to train to become a barrister. My experience there could not have been more different. There was a total indifference as to whether we succeeded or not. I did succeed, but I also gained a frame of reference to which approach I preferred.
I eventually found my way to new and exciting firm Cartwright King. Only one year old, the team were full of the same enthusiasm and limitless possibilities I had experienced at Derby. I began working in the fraud department and 14 years later am now a Director and Head of Crime.
The Crime department has a compliment of almost 100 people across 11 offices around the country. That includes our own in-house Chambers comprising of around 30 Crown Court advocates and a huge team of lawyers providing a 24/7, 365 days a year emergency service to all our clients. It is a massive operation covering London to Yorkshire.
What were the main reasons you took that course?
I chose a Law degree because I enjoyed the subject at college and loved the problem solving, analytical side. It was during the three years of study I found I was actually quite good at problem solving and gained my desire to stand up and argue for a living.
Why did you choose to study the course at the University of Derby?
I chose Derby because it was close to home and also because a lecturer came to my college to speak to us and I was very impressed with how ‘down to earth’ she was. She invited us to visit to see the University for ourselves, which I did totally unannounced and was treated to a personal guided tour. I left that day in no doubt that Derby was for me.
What impact has studying this course at Derby had on your career?
My time at the University of Derby was very important – obviously for the great legal education it provided, but mostly for me, because of the support, encouragement and time I felt was invested in me. I started with doubts and left with confidence. I think what I have achieved in my career since is a testament to that investment.
How did the lecturers inspire you?
I was a blank canvass when I arrived, with no plans beyond surviving the first week. The inspiration was during my three years of study the lecturers didn't doubt for a minute I could and would succeed. I was completely outnumbered and unable to use any of my best excuses for poor effort. It made me believe in myself.
What would you say to anyone thinking of coming to study this course at the University of Derby?
Although my time at Derby was a while ago now I know many things have been improved with new buildings and facilities. Recently, I had the great pleasure of seeing my wife graduate with her degree from Derby and gained a new appreciation of how good the University still is. She loved her time there and so did I.