Siân Holmes

"The social cohesion at Manchester Met was a great help during exams, as we all really supported each other."
About my career

Throughout my legal studies, I volunteered with the Personal Support Unit (PSU), now known as “Support Through Court”, which was based at the Liverpool Civil and Family Court. After completing the BPTC, my manager at the PSU recommended me to a local firm of solicitors, BDH Solicitors, for a paralegal role that had just become available.

I went on to work at BDH for two years as a Family Law paralegal, applying for pupillage throughout, before accepting an offer of pupillage earlier this year from Linenhall Chambers.

I am currently eight weeks into my first six months of a Family Law pupillage. I am shadowing my supervisor at court, in conferences and I have been able to observe her carry out work in most areas of Family Law.

My top tip for students is……

Be polite, respectful and helpful to everyone. At the Bar, your reputation is precious. This is particularly the case for the regional Bar. There is also something to be said for contributing to a healthy and civilised culture of working.

What skills gained at University have you used most in your career?

Since starting to work in Family Law, I have utilised many of the skills that I learned at Manchester Met, but I would say that the ones I have used most are drafting and analytical skills.

Drafting does not come naturally to most people. It is not an organic process: it is something that has to be learned and practised. This is something I thought Manchester Met was really good at. We were given weekly tasks and the tutors would forensically break down where we went wrong and how we could improve. I thought at the start of the course that I was not a natural “drafter”, but after much practice and support from my tutors, I ended up getting a mark of 83 on the final drafting exam, which I was really pleased with!

I also feel that, across all the subject areas on the BPTC, the teaching staff at Manchester Met really encouraged us to thoroughly break down and analyse each legal problem and approach cases with a forensic, yet open, mind. I feel that this has been an indispensable skill in the real world. Particularly in Family Law, the facts of a case aren’t always as they seem at first glance, and quite often a good deal of thorough case analysis and lateral thinking is required in order to solve the complex problems that this area of law presents.

What did you enjoy most whilst studying at Manchester Met?

I really enjoyed the knowledge subjects e.g. Civil Litigation, Criminal Litigation and Evidence. I think this was because I enjoyed the way in which they were taught. We would be given a few chapters to read out of our textbooks each week and then we would have to complete tasks at home before going over these in the seminar and discussing how we reached our answers.

In the latter half of these sessions, we would usually be presented with an unseen task, which we would solve together as a Chambers group, using the knowledge we had acquired from that week’s reading. I found this way of learning particularly dynamic and enjoyable, and it had the added benefit of helping us to bond as a group.

Why I love Manchester Met

The supportive environment fostered by tutors and my peer group.