Energy law dreams vie for attention with Instagram career
Last year, Legal Cheek reported that Lancaster Uni and fitness sensation Saffron Sheriff had achieved the prestigious title of the UK’s most followed law student, with an impressive 24,000 followers under her belt.
Fast-forward four months, and the 23 year-old’s Instagram follower count has taken a hike up to a staggering 32,000 — an increase of a third. Posting close to daily on the photo-sharing site, Sheriff is hauling in the likes, comments and, of course, the followers.
It’s impressive, but let’s also not forget that the fitness enthusiast has managed to do all this while juggling her intensive final year studies at the same time.
Legal Cheek wanted to find out her secret. We got in touch with Sheriff to have a chat about her future career plans, her growing online presence, and how she’s managed to amass her dedicated following.
And the answer, as it often is, is time and effort.
It all began when Sheriff shared a couple of photos of herself on bodybuilding groups. When these were instantly a massive hit, Sheriff started using Instagram more actively, posting regular shots from a stockpile of photos she’d had taken by top photographers across the North West. Things really took off when a snap of her in a Ms Marvel costume went viral. She gained 15,000 more followers in just two months, and this figure has only continued to grow.
Far from just a fluke, Sheriff is rigorously and undeniably dedicated to what she does. Spending hours a day online, the keen photographer described working on her personal 12-week advertising plans, let alone everything else, as a “part time job”. Speaking to Legal Cheek, she explained:
I never log out of my work email, I have push notifications sent straight to my phone so I can always reply to businesses in a timely manner. At night before bed I do one hour of promotion work for my account, which basically involves advertising on other platforms to draw people into the account.
It all seems to be working, but at what cost? Sheriff’s devotion to her account, unsurprisingly, interferes with her taxing third year law degree studies, far more than she’d like to admit. Even her personal life has taken a hit. Sheriff told us:
It used to interfere with my personal life a lot. Both my boyfriend and I had to adjust around it. He’s learnt to avoid the comment section entirely and I learnt not to pick up my phone around him.
Sheriff — who spends one hour every morning “weeding” her Instagram account from spam and unwanted messages — told us that keeping her personal and her corporate identity separate is key. The body building Instagrammer explained:
I’ve nicknamed my online self ‘Corporate Sheriff’. It’s a bit like running a company. You started the company, you do all the paperwork for the company, but ultimately you are not the company.
The only downside is that because I commoditised my own image, people find it difficult to distinguish me from what I do. It’s very difficult to deal with people who have expectations based upon this identity and then are suddenly met with the reality who I actually am. I think they’re disappointed a lot.
With commitment like hers, you’d be forgiven for thinking Sheriff was on the path to full-time Instragram stardom. Given her follower count, the final year LLB-er could halt her studies altogether, and instead command a City law firm associate salary by posting just a couple of sponsored posts a week.
A good deal, but it’s just not for her. Though Sheriff has big plans for her ever-growing social media presence — including her Facebook, Twitter, website and new Instagram account — her “dream job” is to work in the energy industry.
The law student, who recently shared photos of herself ready to go to her uni law ball, has always been interested in the environment and energy. Her dissertation is about the recent climate change conference in Paris, and she’s in the process of seeking out a grad job in the sector.
With oil prices at a low, it’s not a great time for budding energy lawyers. Sheriff admits that “graduate positions in energy law are a lot more difficult to find”, so she has been toying with the idea of studying for a masters degree in one of Europe’s big energy sector hubs, like Oslo or Stockholm, instead.