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Application of Corporate Law in Sports and Aspiring Solicitors: Interview with Olivia Ellis

Olivia Ellis is a third-year at the University of St Andrews studying English. She plans on pursuing a career in corporate law, particularly within the dynamic realm of sports. Following the completion of her undergraduate degree, she is gearing up for a law conversion and the subsequent SQE exams. Notably, during this conversion, she will be gaining hands-on experience through my Qualifying Work Experience (QWE) at Aston Villa Football Club. This strategic step aligns with her goal of eventually qualifying for a role within the legal team of this prominent football club. 


Tell us a little bit about your academic experience at St Andrews. What are you studying and what are some of the biggest lessons that you’ve drawn from academics?

I am currently pursuing a degree in English. The English programme here offers a comprehensive curriculum that delves into literature, language, and critical thinking.

One of the most significant lessons I've gained from my academic journey is the development of critical thinking skills. Analysing various literary genres, historical periods, and cultural contexts has taught me how to deconstruct and interpret texts from multiple perspectives. This has not only deepened my understanding of literature but has also honed my ability to approach complex ideas critically. Furthermore, communication skills have been another crucial aspect of my academic growth. Through extensive writing assignments and verbal discussions, I've learned to express intricate ideas clearly and persuasively. This is an invaluable skill that I believe will benefit me in various aspects of my future endeavours.


Tell us a little bit about your career experience. What work are you currently doing that pertains to the legal field? 

I am actively involved in several initiatives that align with my interest in the legal field. First and foremost, I serve as the Campus Ambassador for Latham and Watkins at St Andrews University, through OnCampusPromotions. I have been in this role since 2021 and will continue with it throughout my time at university. In this role, I have the opportunity to represent the prestigious firm on campus, facilitating communication between students and the legal professionals at Latham and Watkins. It's an enriching experience that allows me to develop networking skills and gain further insights into the legal industry.


Moreover, I've been gaining practical experience in the legal field through my work with Aston Villa Football Club. As part of my work experience, I collaborate with the senior legal counsel of the club. This hands-on experience has provided me with valuable insights into sports law and the day-to-day legal operations of a professional football club.


In addition to my practical experiences, I am an active member of Aspiring Solicitors, regularly attending virtual events hosted by different firms. Aspiring Solicitors aims to remove barriers to legal career entry for under-represented groups, along with increasing meritocracy and inclusion in the profession. My involvement within the company has allowed me to stay updated on industry trends, build connections with professionals, and gain a better understanding of the diverse legal opportunities available. Moreover, I had the opportunity to apply for a Barclays Legal Internship through the company, which I was successful in achieving a place on in September 2023. I heard from lawyers from firms including Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Linklaters, and Norton Rose Fulbright, as well as interacted with representatives from Barclays. These courses provided thorough insights into a wide range of legal subjects, including Dispute Resolution, Competition, and Employment Law. In addition, I was entrusted with reviewing a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) in accordance with the bank's regulations, which required rigorous attention to detail and a deep understanding of legal compliance. The mentorship sessions were beneficial, including personalised advice geared to my career development. Simultaneously, skill workshops sharpened my legal knowledge. The peak of the internship experience was our group pitch presentations to senior company members where my team's success underscored the depth of knowledge and expertise I had gained. Finally, spending a time at the Glasgow headquarters gave me opportunities to network, witness legal procedures, and further immerse myself in the legal world, making my internship an instructive experience. I highly recommend applying for this opportunity if you are interested in a career in Law!


Outside of the St Andrews Law Review, which extracurriculars are you involved in that you believe help your personal and professional development? 

Firstly, I am part of OnCampusPromotions. My role is a Multi-Employer Brand Ambassador. I am currently a Campus Ambassador for the prominent law firm, Latham and Watkins. This role has been instrumental in honing my communication and networking skills. Representing a prestigious legal entity on campus has not only deepened my understanding of the legal industry but has also allowed me to develop relationships with professionals, enhancing my ability to connect with individuals from diverse backgrounds.


Apart from my professional engagements, I am dedicated to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and one of the ways I do this is through my commitment to the gym. For me, regular exercise not only fosters my physical well-being but also promotes discipline, resilience, and time management qualities that are transferable to both personal and professional aspects of life.


Furthermore, I am an avid pianist. I am currently Grade 7 and will continue to work towards the highest grade in the near future. Playing the piano serves as a creative outlet for me and contributes to my personal development by fostering discipline and patience.


In addition, I actively contribute to a homeless shelter in Birmingham during university breaks. Coordinating donations and interacting with individuals facing homelessness has heightened my sense of social responsibility and deepened my understanding of societal challenges. This ongoing charitable involvement emphasises the importance of compassion and empathy, aligning with my commitment to a legal career with a strong focus on social impact.



What legal and non-legal work experience have you gained during your time in undergrad? And how has that helped you discern your future career goals?


Throughout my undergraduate years, I have been fortunate enough to engage in a variety of both legal and non-legal work experiences that have significantly shaped my understanding of the legal profession and informed my future career goals.


One notable legal experience was my internship at Barclays, where I had the opportunity to work within a legal context within a financial institution. This experience allowed me to witness first-hand the intersection of law and finance, providing insights into the legal intricacies within the banking sector. It was during this internship that I began to appreciate the broad applications of legal knowledge across different industries.


As a Campus Ambassador for OnCampusPromotions (OCP), I further deepen my understanding of the legal field by representing a prestigious law firm on campus. This role not only enhances my communication and networking skills but also allows me to connect with legal professionals, gaining valuable insights into the diverse career paths within the legal industry.


My work experience with Aston Villa, particularly collaborating with the senior legal counsel of the football club, provided a unique perspective on sports law. This hands-on experience was invaluable in understanding the practical legal considerations within the dynamic environment of professional sports.


Securing a position on the Bird and Bird Flying Start Scheme last year exposed me to the inner workings of a leading law firm, offering me the opportunity to apply theoretical knowledge to real legal projects. This experience solidified my interest in pursuing a legal career by providing a tangible understanding of the day-to-day operations within a legal setting.


Furthermore, navigating through the assessment centre process with Allen and Overy this month granted me a first-hand glimpse into the recruitment procedures of top-tier law firms. This invaluable encounter not only deepened my understanding of the expectations within the legal profession but also allowed me to fine-tune my career goals by pinpointing the aspects of legal practice that resonate with me the most.


In summary, this array of diverse experiences has been instrumental in guiding me towards my future career goals. By offering a comprehensive perspective of the legal profession, these experiences have empowered me to identify and pursue my areas of interest and passion within the field.



How have you been able to find balance while trying to pursue your career goals and work towards graduation? Do you have any advice for undergraduates who are also trying to make strides in their career while also make the most of their university experiences? 


First and foremost, time management has been crucial. Establishing a well-organized schedule that allocates dedicated time for both academic commitments and career-related activities has allowed me to stay on top of my responsibilities. Prioritizing tasks based on deadlines and importance has been instrumental in ensuring that neither area suffers.


Remaining aware of application timelines and the rolling status of opportunities has also been essential. Keeping track of application deadlines and staying proactive in submitting materials has helped me seize valuable opportunities in a timely manner. This awareness is crucial in the competitive landscape of career development.


A key piece of advice I would offer to undergraduates is to pursue endeavours that genuinely ignite your passions. Finding what you love and aligning your career goals with your interests can make the journey more fulfilling. This passion not only propels you forward but also provides a deeper sense of purpose that can be invigorating during challenging times. Furthermore, avoid over-applying. While casting a wide net is valuable, a focused approach that aligns with your genuine interests can lead to more meaningful opportunities. Quality over quantity is essential in the application process.

Lastly, it's crucial not to let rejection hinder your progress. Rejections are part of the journey, and it's essential to view them as opportunities for growth rather than setbacks. Learn from each experience, use feedback constructively, and maintain resilience in the face of rejection.


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