How would you explain your role in the school?
As Director of Legal Skills, my role is to enable students to achieve their full academic potential. I do this by helping them to improve on existing skills, think independently, and analyse questions and essays, answering them to the best of their ability.
I may discuss revision techniques, individual queries or just be there to listen. I give small-group sessions, larger seminars and one-to-one meetings. In order to keep up with demand and ensure students are fully supported, the school has now employed a second adviser.
What inspired you to pursue this area?
After obtaining my LLB here in the School of Law, I was a practising solicitor for 20 years and started training lawyers within a firm of solicitors some years ago. I then became an external tutor in the school and very much enjoyed working with students. My current role seemed a natural move.
How do your professional interests and experience influence the support you provide?
As a solicitor I specialised in shipping then reinsurance and insurance law and worked both in private practice and in industry, dealing with a wide range of people. Although I no longer practise, I sit as a Deputy District Judge (in the civil courts) when not in the University so am still very much involved in the day to day practical side of law. I can therefore see very clearly how the skills that a student will learn now will feed into their future careers, whether as a lawyer or otherwise.
My other roles have also given me some good examples to show that law in university is not just academic; law is very much real life, something that is not always obvious when studying for a degree.
What's been the greatest moment of your career so far?
I have been fortunate enough to have had a number of career highs – I have been involved in some high profile cases in the higher courts, I spent some time handling cases with overseas elements so saw other jurisdictions in action first hand, and was delighted when I obtained my judicial appointment.
What's the biggest challenge in your role?
My biggest challenge is prioritisation, a problem I share with students. There is always more that I can do but not enough hours in the day so I have to prioritise to make sure that my time is spent where I can be most effective.
What advice would you give to someone considering an undergraduate degree in law?
Just do it, whether you want to be a lawyer or not. You never know where your career will lead you – sometimes opportunities arise when you are not expecting them or take you into new areas – but the skills you learn in studying for your degree in law will play an essential part in any role you do in the future.
Susan Russell is Director of Legal Skills in the School of Law. She is a Nottingham alumna, having gained her LLB here, and sits as a Deputy District Judge. As part of her role, she helps students develop their legal skills and confidence, also teaching on first-year module Common Law.
You never know where your career will lead you – sometimes opportunities arise when you are not expecting them or take you into new areas.