Durham grad speaks to Legal Cheek about battle to land a training contract — or perhaps even a pupillage
Laura Collins does not live up to the stereotypical image of an airhead beauty queen.
The 22-year-old Miss England finalist is hell bent on qualifying as a lawyer, although she is undecided on which branch of the profession best suits her.
Regardless, she is prepared to take on the perceived wisdom of the law faculty at Durham University, where she received a 2.1 in law last year.
At Durham, everyone made it seem a complete impossibility that you could get a bar pupillage unless you had a first-class degree,” relates the current Miss Bolton and Bury. “But having been in the real world of work,” she continues, “I don’t agree with that. I know that I’m good at my job.
Collins went on:
And as I’ve worked the entire time I’ve been at university I am confident that I can compete for a pupillage with those that had a better quality degree on the basis that I have a solid experience of the commercial world.
Her route to the bar — if that is where Collins finally lands — will have been unconventional.
She received four A-levels — in law, politics, history and religious studies from Runshaw College, a state school in Lancashire. After graduating from Durham, Collins headed for the University of Law’s Manchester branch, where she is currently enrolled on the part-time Legal Practice Course and LLM.
Collins is scheduled to finish that course next year. But a summer vac scheme at the Manchester office of global law firm DLA Piper during her final year at uni taught her that she did not fancy a career in corporate law.
I want to go into property or employment,” says Collins. “I know I want to work in the law, but I’m not sure I want to be a solicitor. I’m considering doing the BPTC once I’ve completed the LPC, as I’d quite like to be an advocate.
Collins has self-financed her way through all higher education and is currently an associate at tax advisory business the OneE Group.
But it is her interest in beauty pageants that has caught the attention of the mainstream press, who have labelled her the “real-life Legally Blonde”.
Having been originally scouted in a local Manchester shopping centre, Collins recently finished in the top 10 of the Miss England semi-finals and will compete in the finals at Coventry on 13-14 August. If she takes the crown there it will be off to the Miss World event.
Collins is dismissive of those that dismiss beauty competitions as one of the worst examples outdated sexism, explaining:
It is not an obvious interest for someone that is keen on going into the legal profession. However, it has given me a degree of confidence that reading textbooks and studying would never have given me.
The law student continues:
And it has also given me an opportunity to meet many different types of people and provided me with a platform to say what I want to say.
What Collins wants to say is something that will undoubtedly raise the hackles of many.
Women don’t need to be non-feminine to be feminists. I’m a feminist and I chose to be feminine. And I am keen to encourage other girls not to be afraid of being feminine while at the same time having strong feminist views.