The legal profession remains a popular choice for graduates, offering a challenging, rewarding and fascinating career.
The University has strong links with the judiciary in the West Midlands and is proud that many of its law alumni have achieved high office after collecting their degree scrolls. There are several Senior Government Law Officers around the world whose careers began in Wolverhampton, and there is a law graduate from the University on every continent of the world.
One of the key dates in the University’s calendar is the annual Celebration of the Administration of Justice, which takes place at St Peter’s Collegiate Church.
Judges, barristers, solicitors, magistrates, court staff and police officials join senior University staff including Vice-Chancellor, Professor Caroline Gipps and Dean of the School of Law, Social Sciences and Communications Professor Judith Burnett, in a formal procession through the city.
Local dignitaries at this year’s ceremony also included the High Sheriff of the county of the West Midlands, Mrs Anita Bhalla OBE, and the Mayor of Wolverhampton, Councillor Malcolm Gwinnett.
Martin Cartwright, Associate Dean in the School of Law, Social Sciences and Communications (LSSC), explains the ceremony is an opportunity for the University to showcase its links with the legal profession and its role in the city.
"The University is part of the wider Wolverhampton and Black Country community and it is important for us to show the way we participate in and contribute to the life of the city. This is one example where the University can demonstrate its active participation in the legal and justice system in the region," he says.
"We offer law degrees at undergraduate and postgraduate level and professional programmes, and we produce qualified lawyers, many of whom go on to practise in the West Midlands. This is a profession that we are heavily involved with, and it is important for us to parade what we do and to celebrate it as well."
The annual event is organised by The Reverend Prebendary Geoffrey Wynne, who retired last year as Senior Chaplain after 44 years at the University. The ceremony, now in its seventh year, includes an act of rededication, which invites the members of the judiciary present to rededicate themselves to the administration of justice. The Bible readings at the ceremony are chosen as they reflect the service’s focus on the administration of justice.
Martin Cartwright explains the ceremony benefits students as they can see the connections the University and LSSC in particular have with local solicitors, barristers and the judiciary. One example of this is the Lex 21 group, which aims to put LSSC at the heart of local legal practices in a number of areas including Continuous Professional Development (CPD), recruitment and placement opportunities.
Martin says: "The students can see that they are part of a thriving judicial community. We have other links throughout the academic year, including inviting judges and other members of the practising profession to participate in a number of activities such as presenting talks to students. We have a mooting competition and often the local judges will act as judges, particularly as we reach the final stages. Our students also spend time on work experience in local solicitors’ practices."
Among the procession this year was Circuit Judge His Honour Judge Jonathan Gosling, who presides over courts in Wolverhampton and Derby. Judge Gosling was among the first intakes of law students at the University of Wolverhampton and graduated in 1978.
Martin says the University maintains strong contacts with its alumni, and they provide inspiration to the many graduates who follow them into the profession.
"We have a growing number of law graduates who have qualified as judges at various levels. By participating in the justice service, we maintain our links and remind those who have achieved high judicial office that they are graduates of the University of Wolverhampton. Our alumni are proud that they came from Wolverhampton, and it shows students that coming here can give them the opportunity of achieving a high position in the legal profession too."
Other than graduation, there are few occasions in the University calendar that require full academic robes, but the annual justice march is one that enables staff and alumni to gather together and celebrate in the form of a traditional procession. For today’s law students, watching the solicitors, barristers and judges taking part in the parade provides inspiration for what they themselves could achieve as they take the first steps into this challenging career.
For more information about studying a law course at the University, visit www.wlv.ac.uk/lssc