Helping you with the next step of your career – Professional Mentoring Scheme

Need help deciding which area of law to pursue, but don’t know where to start? Applications are now open for the Law School Professional Mentoring Scheme, offering LLB and MA law students going in to their second year, the chance to be matched with a legal professional in a wide variety of practice areas. The scheme aims to allow you to gain deeper insights into working in commercial law, and build on your network for the future. Professional mentor for the 2021-22 scheme, Sam Cripps has outlined what he likes about supporting students and what you can gain from joining the scheme. See our Professional Mentoring Scheme webpage for more details on how to apply.

male mentor
Sam Cripps, Projects Solicitor at Burges Salmon

What is your background in law and how did you get to where you are today?

I have had a reasonably linear (boring!) route to law. I completed my LLB in 2015, and applied for a training contract. In the summer of 2015, I attended two vacation schemes, in addition to applying directly for Burges Salmon (where I work now). I was fortunate enough to receive an offer from each of the three firms, but chose Burges Salmon due to the culture, size and mix of work.

“While I had a successful ending to my training contract journey, I also suffered through many rejections, no-replies, and anxious nights! Everyone’s journey is different, but in my experience, everyone always achieves the same end destination.”

You get better, and more selective as you go through the process, so don’t give up! I completed my training contract between 2017-19, and chose to qualify into Projects. The Burges Salmon Projects team routinely works on large scale asset/infrastructure projects and this appealed to me. I was fascinated about working at the cutting edge of renewable energy, or the roll-out of the latest medical technology, and Projects was the right fit.  

 Why did you decide to become a mentor on the Professional Mentoring Scheme?

Studying law at university, or considering converting at postgraduate level, is very different to the life as a lawyer. Therefore, as a student I remember not really understanding what my application should look like, or even what the job entails. Not everyone is fortunate enough to have legal contacts in their family/friends, and therefore the mentoring scheme allows lawyers to connect with students to help give them that insight. I became a mentor to play a small role in helping students on the next step of their career path. 

What was the highlight of your time being a mentor and why do you think students should apply for the scheme?

My mentee was incredibly organised and driven, so my role was very easy. But I enjoyed the progress we made from setting objectives for the year (in this case, it was to progress with TC applications), to seeing them in the canteen at work on their first vacation scheme. My mentee did all the hard work, but I was there to bounce questions off, and chat through any areas they were unsure of. 

“ If you are interested in a career in law, the scheme offers you access to lawyers from a variety of firms. It is easy to be overwhelmed with the variety of choice when you begin to apply, so being matched with someone who has been through the process helps.”

If you get partnered with me, there will also be free coffee… 

laptop and coffee cup

Application details

Applications are invited from LLB and MA students going in to their second year in 2022-23 academic year. See our Professional Mentoring Scheme webpage for more details on how to apply. The deadline for submissions is Friday 5 August at 5pm.

I feel more prepared pursuing a career in law, and you could too – Professional Mentoring Scheme

Need help deciding which area of law to pursue, but don’t know where to start? Applications are now open for the Law School Professional Mentoring Scheme, offering LLB and MA law students going in to their second year, the chance to be matched with a legal professional in a wide variety of practice areas. The scheme aims to allow you to gain deeper insights into working in commercial law, and build on your networks for the future. Law student and mentee from the 2021-22 scheme, Alexandra Zanenga outlines why she joined the scheme, how it influenced her career planning and the support it can provide. See our Professional Mentoring Scheme webpage for more details on how to apply.

law student and mentee
Alexandra Zanenga, law student and mentee

What inspired you to sign up to the Professional Mentoring Scheme?

I was at the point in my law degree where I was beginning to think more seriously about my future and explore what areas of law interested me. Although there is an abundance of information and resources available online to aid students with this, it is difficult to gain an accurate picture of what being a lawyer entails in practice and how to go about pursuing a career in the legal sector. I applied for the mentorship scheme to gain some insight into a department I was unfamiliar with at the time but wanted to learn more about (Projects), and to connect and speak with someone who has potentially gone through some of the same experiences/struggles as I have as a student but ultimately been successful in the legal sector.

How was your experience on the scheme and how do you feel your mentor supported you?

My experience on the scheme was great! I was lucky enough to have been paired with a mentor who works at a firm in Bristol, so I was able to meet them in person and see the office.

“My mentor was incredibly supportive, offering both general advice on how to go about pursuing a career in law, and tailored feedback on how to best improve my competencies and stand out when applying to law firms.”

Despite his busy schedule, he would always make time to meet with me and talk through any questions I had.

Overall, I am incredibly grateful to have had this experience, as I feel more prepared going into the legal sector and pursuing a career as a lawyer.

Which area of law are you hoping to pursue and how did this experience influence this decision?

As of now, I am hoping to either go into Projects (the area of law that my mentor works in), or Corporate Finance, but I am keeping a very open mind. Going into the mentorship scheme I was curious to know more about Projects, as I learned that lawyers in this department work on large renewable deals and the energy sector has always been of interest to me. After meeting with my mentor and getting glimpses into the type of work he does, deals he has completed, and what his day-to-day life looks like as a Projects solicitor, my interest in this area has only amplified and I hope to be able to explore it further in the future.

Why do you think students should apply for the scheme?

I believe that being able to speak to a professional who works in the area of law you are hoping to pursue is an invaluable experience which will give you insight into what you can realistically expect for your future.

“It is really helpful to hear about someone else’s experiences going into law and understand what you can do now to make yourself a better candidate in the future.”

Also, you have the opportunity to ask as many questions as you can, which comes in handy when the application period starts!

Application details

Applications are invited from LLB and MA students going in to their second year in 2022-23 academic year. See our Professional Mentoring Scheme webpage for more details on how to apply. The deadline for submissions is Friday 5 August at 5pm.

What should I be doing over the summer?

If you are worried that your career planning will lose momentum over the summer, take five minutes to read the latest blog from our Employability Adviser, Jo Cooksley.  Jo will put your mind at ease with some great advice and some quick, practical activities that will help keep things going at a pace that works for you.

When I see students in one-to-one careers meetings I am often asked ‘what should I be doing over the summer’. My answer? ‘What do you want to do?’

It can be easy to forget that your time is your own, you have had busy challenging years and sometimes we can lose track of what we want to do as we are so busy thinking about what we should be doing.

“As a careers adviser (and a human!) I am a great advocate of the importance of aligning your interests, passions and career aspirations. The more aligned they are the happier you will be.”

When was the last time you really thought about what you want to do after Uni? It can be easy to be swept along with recruitment timelines (more on that later) particularly when studying a subject such as Law which has such a clear recruitment trajectory. This can be very reassuring, until perhaps your timeline and the recruiters timelines start to diverge, maybe you haven’t got the vac scheme you thought you would, or the Training Contract offer. This can be immensely unsettling.

So…why not take some time to really examine what your options are and what interests you. The next question I am usually asked when I say this is ‘but how do I do that’? It is too easy at this point to just grind to a halt, it’s such a vast thing to think about. My suggestion is you do something, almost anything, just keep taking the next step. Below are some suggestions and resources to help you take the next step.

So where to start?

Timetable in some careers time, maybe a Wednesday afternoon? Couple of hours on a Saturday morning? Doing some planning/researching is better than none and will help you to feel more in control.

The Careers Service has lots of resources to help you. Take a look at its ‘Exploring Career Options’ resources.

Maybe you could take a look at the Sector Guides that are available, which provide a summary of key information and starting points to help you explore a range of careers including Advertising, Publishing, policy, TV and Media and MANY more.

Start to engage with others working in areas you think might interest you.

Set up/improve your LinkedIn profile or sign up for the University Bristol Connects Service.

But I need to earn some money this summer…

You are also likely to need to work over the summer to earn some money, don’t underestimate how positively employers will view the less obviously relevant, paid work you undertake. If you need some help articulating the skills you develop in this work for future employers, why not book a careers appointment?

“So, in response to ‘what should I do this summer’… have a break, earn some money and take some time to think about what you’d really like to do.”


Why this mooting competition was a highlight of our university years

Participating in mooting competitions is an excellent way to develop your advocacy skills – particularly if you are looking to pursue a career at the bar. The Law School has a well established advocacy programme open to current students throughout the academic year. Current undergraduate law students, Cher Lyne Peh and Chloe Yeung impressively came in second place from 64 universities competing at the OUP & ICCA National Moot Competition. Read their blog below to find out more about what the competition entailed and what they learned during this experience.

Cher Lyne Peh & Chloe Yeung
Cher Lyne Peh & Chloe Yeung

It all started back in September 2021 when we came across the OUP & ICCA National Moot Competition 2021-2022. Having had some mooting experience, we wanted to challenge ourselves and compete at a national level.

The Competition

The Moot took place over eight months and consisted of 64 competing universities/teams across the UK. Each round engaged different legal topics and issues which were very current and mostly unresolved. We were able to moot on cases awaiting the judgment of the Supreme Court such as Fearn v The Tate Gallery [2020] EWCA Civ 104, Paul v The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust [2022] EWCA Civ 12 and many more. In the Grand Finals, we were judged by The Rt Honourable Lady Justice Andrews and were invited to dine at Middle Temple.


In each round, we started preparation by doing a broad sweep of the topic across platforms such as Westlaw, LexisNexis and so on. Most of the time, the moot problem would be on a general area of law that we were familiar with (e.g. tort). However, the actual subject area would be a lot more niche (e.g. psychiatric injury for secondary victims and overlooking into neighbours’ windows as a form of tortious nuisance).

“Since the moot problems were set in the Supreme Court, anything could be overturned or overruled, so we had licence to stretch our imagination!”

Hence, we looked beyond merely applying primary sources such as cases and legislation; we looked at the intention of the relevant legislation, rationale of decided case law, academic commentaries and law reform proposals from the UK and other commonwealth countries in order to build strong arguments and a good foundation of knowledge.

Secondly, we would refine, test and build on each other’s thinking processes to establish (hopefully!) not only sound but original legal arguments. We would embark on a “rebuttal exercise” where we would put forward rebuttals to each of our arguments to ensure that comprehensive responses had been crafted for any opposing arguments and judicial intervention we could think of. We would then summarise these into documents called “skeleton arguments”, to be submitted to our opponents and judges well before each round.

Cher Lyne Peh & Chloe Yeung

Thirdly, preparing to advocate orally was the next stage of the process. A very practical and effective way to test our fluency, ability to respond to judicial interventions and the strengths of our submissions was to practice them with the other teammate intervening as the judge. For the Grand Finals, we were instructed to print our bundles and skeleton arguments to better simulate an in-person courtroom environment. Filing and tabbing our bundles in heavy ring binders, then carrying them to London with us for the competition, was certainly a physically taxing ordeal, but was truly an exciting moment for both of us!


The requisite skills of research, legal-mindedness, quick thinking and fluent advocacy are essential for mooting, particularly at a competitive level. However, the first skill that helped us progress to the finals of the competition, ultimately winning second place was definitely having a strategy.

“In a national competition comprising many excellent universities and students, we knew that we had to go above and beyond the traditional mooting scorecard criteria of good advocacy skill and knowledge of the law  – we had to stand out and be original.”

Secondly, mooting on such complex and controversial topics meant that we had to develop a firm grasp of the core issues in each moot problem. Broad research was undoubtedly important, but just like tackling any problem question in an exam, we had to distinguish the helpful resources and strong arguments from the peripheral, insignificant ones, so to build a case that was not simply effective and strong, but focused, persuasive and easy to understand.

Cher Lyne Peh & Chloe Yeung

Finally, teamwork was crucial to our success. Having mooted with each other previously, we knew of each other’s particular strengths, and so delegated arguments and speaker positions accordingly. More broadly though, having a teammate meant that we could bounce ideas off each other and be constructively critical of each other’s thought processes, which helped us massively as we progressed into more difficult rounds.

Final Thoughts

Getting to moot in front of a Court of Appeal judge at the Middle Temple was a great honour and privilege for us, and definitely one of the highlights of our university years.

Cher Lyne Peh & Chloe Yeung

This competition tested our ability to research a broad range of unfamiliar and unresolved areas of the law and use it for a hypothetical client’s interest. This experience no doubt affirmed and enhanced our skills as advocates, law students and aspiring barristers, and has been an extremely memorable way to end our time at the University of Bristol.

“We would heartily recommend any student interested in pursuing the Bar, or a career in law, to represent Bristol at this competition in the years to come!”

Further information

Find out more about the practical experiences of law opportunities available to law students on our Careers and Employability webpages – and find out how you can do more with law.