How being a volunteer in a dynamic university has changed me

For this blog we caught up with Aryan Mandal, who shares his thoughts about being an international student here – and how the culture and spirit of the university, combined with his experience working as a volunteer lawyer, has seen him grow as a human with ambition for the future.

Aryan Mandal

How has your experience at the University of Bristol shaped you?

The University of Bristol is always changing, always evolving – it’s so dynamic in nature. It’s all about new ideas, new cultures, new traditions and it makes you think differently.  It’s made me understand my choices. I’ve had such beautiful courses, such beautiful optional units, it has shaped my future ambition. I’m very thankful to the university for that. It’s all about choosing something which you deserve and choosing something that suits you.  When I came in here, I always thought I wanted to become a barrister in the area of human rights law. But then Bristol changed that completely. I still want to become a barrister, but in the field of commercial law, in the field of arbitration law.

What is the Law Clinic – and how did it help form your future goals?

The University of Bristol Law Clinic provides social service to anyone who needs advice with regard to legal problems, and I think that is what makes University of Bristol stand apart. It helps people solve their legal problems without any costs, and I feel that is what is needed. Free legal aid, helping people, advising people, that is what us volunteer lawyers are. You help that person, you make a difference to that person’s life by your advice, and that person can decide whether or not to take it to litigation or arbitration or mediation and then get resolution out of it. That can make a real difference to their lives

“It’s not always about getting something out of it. It’s not always something about gaining reputation, but it’s about helping people. And that is what a law degree is actually about. It’s about human rights. It’s about how you can help, how you can make a change to another person.”

What cases have you worked on as a volunteer in the Clinic and what have they taught you?

I have undertaken many different cases and been involved in many different activities. From cases involving family law and environmental law to arbitration and mediation. These experiences have got me ready for the legal world. I’m advising clients every month and that gets me ready to go out there as a lawyer after three years and advise clients. The Law Clinic taught me the procedures to do that, and that’s the biggest blessing for me because going out there as a lawyer, you never might know how to advise a client or how to write advise or draft advice. But the Law Clinic prepares you for all of that.

What other activities have helped you build practical skills? 

Offering students the opportunity to get involved with the many different mooting competitions that are available around the world is another way the Law School helps you develop skills for your future career.  My highlight of being here is taking part in the KK Luthra International Moot Court competition as the lead mooter. Mooting generally helps you gain confidence in yourself. It helps you know what it is to stand in that court and argue as counsel for a client, making a difference to that person. It is such an important part the career and employability provision – and there is an array of opportunities that you can get involved in as an international student.  There’s so much to do I have never felt that, well, I’ve come to a different country, what’s going to happen? I’ve never felt that. And that is what is so pleasing to me. 

What advice would you give a student thinking about studying here?

My big bit of advice is just accept your offer. Just accept it and come here because there’s nothing better. There’s nothing better than the University of Bristol Law School. It’s highly ranked. It’s research intensive. It’s top five in UK for research. And they accept you with open arms. They’re so welcoming to international students. You go to the library, you sit among people and they become your best friends. I feel that is what the University of Bristol’s all about. That is what the culture in Bristol is all about. That is what the city is all about.  

Find out more

Don’t forget to read the full Volunteering Week blog series to find out more about the options for gaining real-life experiences of law, in social justice and beyond, whilst studying at the Law School. Find out more about our Law Clinic work and careers opportunities on our webpages.

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