Legal Outreach Project
Let's talk Public Law & Human Rights...
Navjot Kahlon is a final year Law student at King's College London. In her post she talks about her career aspirations, public law and human rights!
If you're choosing to study law, there is a high chance that you are also interested in a career in law! You might be thinking about a particular area of law that you're fascinated by, anything between commercial and criminal law.
However, when I was applying to study law, I didn't really know what area of law I wanted to go into career wise, and that's actually pretty normal - one of the great things about studying law at university is that you'll be able to study many subjects. The compulsory modules include Public Law, Criminal Law, Contract Law, Land Law, Trusts Law and a few more (and you'll also be able to pick your own additional modules as per your liking!). From studying different modules, you'll get a taste of what fascinates you and what area of law you'd rather leave behind. It was in this way that I realised that the area that I would want to specialise in when I become a solicitor is a mix of public law and human rights.
I found that I really enjoyed studying Public law in my first year of university. Public law effectively governs the relationship that we, as citizens, have with the state. If the government creates a policy that we feel discriminates against a certain group of people, or if a government department makes a decision that is wrong, we have the right to hold the government to account. If we think about it, government policies and decisions affect our daily lives, and especially those that are working class. For example, the roll out of universal credit benefits, or the immigration policies from the Home Office. One way in which we are able to hold the government to account is through the process of judicial review. This is a process whereby we can ensure that governmental decision making is held to particular standards.
I particularly like the idea of working in public law because not only do I enjoy academia and being able to critically analyse a situation, but I've always found a sense of purpose in being able to serve others and better the community. I want to use the law to challenge political moves that prejudice the most vulnerable, and support people trying to enforce their rights Therefore, working as a solicitor specialising in public law seems like the best of both worlds to me!
Another area that I’m really interested in is human rights law, as specialising in this area would allow me to partake in what I feel is meaningful work. This year, one of the modules I chose is human rights law!
Human rights are the basic freedom and rights that everyone is entitled to. Studying human rights law has been both a disheartening and inspiring experience. Disheartening because even today, there are still so many injustices against so many different people. However, by working in human rights law, you are able to represent the victims of human rights violations and enforce their rights before the law. You can truly make a difference with some of the cases that you work on. If I look at what is in the news as I write, Shamima Begum is fighting for the right to have a trial in the UK regarding the revocation of her citizenship status. Human rights cases are monumental and are at the forefront of society when they arise. I know that I would love to be able to work on such huge cases in the future.
Through research, I found quite a few firms that focus on a combination of Public Law and Human Rights. To name a few, Duncan Lewis, Bhatt Murphy, Hodge Jones & Allen! Consequently, studying both of these modules has allowed me to find what area of law I want to specialise in. When you come to study law at university, I would recommend thinking to yourself, could I see myself working in this area?
If anything, that I've said here has resonated with you, here are some excellent resources that have helped me:
Reading the news! The Guardian is a great free resource for quality news articles.
The Prosecutor by Nazir Afzal
Stories of The Law & How its Broken by The Secret Barrister
Linkedin - connect with people that are already doing what you want to do and get an insight into how they find their area!
Take free online courses on the area you’re interested in at futurelearn.com
Volunteer with your local Citizens Advice Bureau.
Get involved with Pro Bono work at university - King's has a great Pro Bono society!
Links to the photos I used: