Your career

We’ve established a reputation for producing highly effective law graduates who excel in all areas of the legal profession – you can hear from some of them below.

Employers rate our graduates, not just for their knowledge and skills, but also for their work ethic and standards of professional behaviour.

We asked Anton Balkitis from Rothera Sharp Solicitors for some realistic employment advice for our Derby Law School graduates - read his tips for securing a training contract.

Graduate stories

Zed initially completed a HND in Business and Finance at Derby. His interest in law was ignited during a company law module on the HND so he decided to move on to the second year of a joint honours degree in Law (major) with Human Resource Management.

Working as a criminal lawyer

"I was called to the Bar in 1998 but then qualified as a solicitor in 2002. I represent individuals accused of crime in various settings: at the Police Station, Magistrates Court, Crown Court and in appeal cases. 

"I’m a self employed consultant and work for a number of different firms although the majority of my work is for a firm called ITN Solicitors in London.

"I absolutely love my job. I know it’s a cliché but every day is different and I'm not always stuck behind a desk."

Choosing my career path

"I chose criminal law because I enjoyed the subject at University. My criminal law lecturer at the time was very inspiring. I enjoyed studying it at Law School too.

"I have a very strong sense of justice and criminal law also requires you to be a people person – I felt I had the appropriate attributes.”

Studying at Derby

"My degree allowed me to combine the subjects I most enjoyed studying. I enjoyed the course immensely. This was down to having a genuine interest in the subjects and being taught by some inspirational lecturers. The lecturers’ open door policy and friendliness impressed me and I felt there was always somebody to talk to if ever I needed assistance.

"Derby doesn’t remove itself from the world like some other universities might and this ethos has helped me in my role as a lawyer: I deal with real life situations and real people and above all, they want to know that someone is listening to them and that someone will help them.”

Other roles and interests

"I'm also a Football Association (FA) registered lawyer – I can represent footballers in negotiations over transfer and merchandising contracts for example – as well as a school governor at a local secondary school. I also sit on the Society of Asian Lawyers Committee, the Criminal Practitioners Group (Law Society), and the Ethnic Minorities Lawyers Division (Law Society).

"I'm now also a mentor for law students at the University of Derby. The University provided me with life skills, fond memories, a beautiful wife and best friends for life. I am proud to still be associated with its Law School."

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."

Our LLB Law course

For Natalie Cross, the Derby LLB (Hons) was the ideal starting point in her journey to become a barrister – because the course “goes beyond just learning about the law”. 

“It gave a true insight into how law is applied in real life and, alongside the academic knowledge, it helped me to develop the skills I needed to work in the legal environment,” she explains.

“During my time at Derby, I acquired so much skills-based experience that my transition to postgraduate study and employment was far easier. The practical emphasis of the course built my skills in advocacy, drafting and negotiating – all of which are now vital in my job.”

After graduating

Today, Natalie has achieved her ambition of being called to the Bar.  After graduating from Derby, she took the Bar Vocational Course at the College of Law, worked in a paralegal role for two years and then commenced pupillage at St Mary’s Chambers in Nottingham where she is now a tenant. A specialist in family law, she has even returned to the University as an Associate Lecturer.

For Natalie, highlights of the LLB included the Clinic module which involved a rewarding placement at the Citizens Advice and Law Centre, enabling her to give something back to the local community.

She also praised Derby’s courtroom facilities and the “incredibly approachable and supportive” lecturers for providing an invaluable perspective on what to expect in a legal career. 

Studying at Derby

“Would I recommend a degree at Derby? Absolutely – it is so much more than just a degree, it is a lesson in skills and life experiences.”

“The degree was more than I could have hoped for. I met so many wonderful people during my time at the University, and the support and assistance of the lecturers really helped push me in my education.”