Mark Hopwell, Director and Head of Crime
Working as a senior lawyer
"After graduating from the Bar Professional Training Course in the late 1990s, I eventually found my way to a new and exciting firm of solicitors, Cartwright King. Only one year old, the team were full of enthusiasm and limitless possibilities. I began working in the Fraud Department and 14 years later I am now a Director and Head of Crime.
"The Crime Department has a complement 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."
Studying the LLB at Derby – a "journey to excellence"
"Back in 1993 I was part of the second intake onto the brand new LLB at Derby. I was a mature student without any serious qualifications from my school education back in the 1970s 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 learned which approach I preferred."
Why a law degree and why at Derby?
"I chose a law degree because I enjoyed the subject at college and loved the problem solving, analytical side. It was during my three years of study at Derby that I found I was actually quite good at problem solving and gained my desire to stand up and argue for a living.
"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."
Derby invested and believed in me
"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.
"I was a blank canvass when I arrived, with no plans beyond surviving the first week. The inspiration was that 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."
"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 from Derby and gained a new appreciation of how good the University still is. She loved her time there and so did I."