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Epilepsy sufferer who left school with no qualifications launches LLM crowdfunder

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Rhys Brown needs £24,000 to follow uni dream after winning spot at Birkbeck

Rhys Brown

A disabled student who dropped out of secondary school and battled back to secure a law school place has launched a crowdfunding campaign to cover his course fees.

Rhys Brown, 25, left school with no qualifications after struggling with his medical conditions but has now secured a place on the evening LLM at Birkbeck, part of the University of London.

Brown, whose epilepsy and myalgic encephalomyelitis (chronic fatigue syndrome) put paid to his dream of becoming a musician, finally managed to get a degree through the Open University.

He decided on a legal career after suing the secondary school he attended as a music scholar, winning damages for its failure to make reasonable adjustments for his epilepsy.

Brown represented himself in the case and won plaudits from the judge and opposing barrister, both of whom are backing him to become a lawyer. The judge said that Brown’s written submissions were “as good as I routinely get from established advocates in the county court”, while the barrister said that the student was “able (without any formal legal training) to conduct proceedings of a level of complexity that would challenge many fully trained members of the junior bar”.

The Birkbeck LLM is a qualifying law degree, meaning that it can be taken by grads whose first degree wasn’t in law to qualify to train as a solicitor or barrister (instead of taking a law conversion course). Brown says it will cost over £55,000 including living expenses, some of which he can cover through loans, bursaries and disability benefits.

That leaves £24,000, which the 25-year-old hopes to raise through crowdfunding on the GoFundMe website. Without it, Brown says, he is “nowhere near able to commence my master’s at Birkbeck on October 1st”.

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Brown told Legal Cheek that he’d like to help others secure compensation for breach of their rights after qualifying:

“My experience in fighting my case has enlightened me to the inherently interesting aspects of Personal Injury law from both a moral and legal perspective and considering my history as an activist for disabled rights, it seems like an area of law that will always be close to my heart.”

The rise of crowdfunding platforms has opened doors to many hard-up law students with a story to tell. Legal Cheek has previous covered appeals from Dylan Kawende, the Cambridge-bound son of Rwandan refugees and Oxford hopeful Ebun Azeez, who managed to raise £30,000 to sit the BCL.

Editorial note: Friday 16 August 2019. Following a request, the judge and the barrister’s names have been removed.

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