As Director of ARU's Law Clinic, I like to think that my ‘interesting’ career path developed my abilities and strengths, and led me to this point in my career.
I have an English degree, and started working in publishing at The Economist Books. Whilst working on professional publications, an early interest in the law was revived and I changed direction with a conversion course in law, qualifying into a City law firm in the property department, specifically supporting venture capital deals.
Life then got in the way with the birth of my first child and a move to Brazil where, as I couldn’t practise, I went back to publishing, producing several guides for ex-pat parents living in Sao Paulo. On my return to the UK several years later, two children now in tow, I continued with my publishing projects before returning to practice in a high street law firm.
With the arrival of child number 3, I started volunteering with a local hospice, specifically using my law background to develop and launch a ‘Make a Will Month’ fundraising project with them. This evolved into a paid role as a community fundraiser, which gave me an insight into the value of building relationships and establishing trust in ensuring the support of and engagement from stakeholders, supporters and the public at large.
I was then offered the opportunity to design and develop a free legal advice clinic in Essex which was my introduction to the world of pro bono legal advice. The clinic became a hugely valuable resource to the local community, with over 1,000 clients being helped within the first two years of operation, and I became increasingly aware of the dire need for such a resource across the country. This led to an additional role with LawWorks, the Solicitors Pro Bono Group, supporting and developing law clinics across the region – which is how I met with staff at ARU.
When the role of Law Clinic Director was advertised and knowing ARU’s commitment to the project, I knew that I had to apply. And so here I am….!
My advice to law students would be to get involved with the Law Clinic – it's a fantastic opportunity to give something back to the community whilst developing and enhancing practical legal skills for your CV and growing relationships with local legal professionals, standing you in good stead for your future career.
By Sarah Calder
Sarah Calder is Director of the Law Clinic at ARU in Cambridge. She's a qualified lawyer with additional experience in the publishing and charity sectors.
Sarah is passionate about pro bono legal work for the benefits that it can bring to both the local community and also to law students, helping them to develop valuable practical legal skills.