Meet Jack Whittaker
Jack is a final year LLB Law student with dreams of being a commercial lawyer. He is passionate about showing that Law students from traditionally under-represented groups can be successful in their career. By taking advantage of all the opportunities at Salford, he is developing his skills to stand out to potential employers.
To help him achieve his ambitions, Jack applied for the Future Lawyer of the Year award, hosted by Target Jobs and partnered with Clyde and Co. He has been shortlisted as one of only 10 finalists. We talk to Jack about the award and his experience at Salford.
Update: We're so proud to announce that Jack has won the Future Lawyer of the Year award, beating stiff competition from law students studying at top universities across the country!
Jack, tell us a little about the Future Lawyer award
The sheer size of the competition as a whole is really impressive, with 3968 applications being submitted and myself being 1 out of 122 finalists across the 12 awards. I am elated to have made it this far. It is a really prestigious national award with the chance to win a 4 week placement, 1-2-1 mentoring
with the firm’s CEO and the chance to secure a training contract. The application process simulates a training contract or vacation scheme application so that in itself it is a really useful experience. After submitting, I was notified that, out of hundreds of applications for my category, 10 people got through; so 10 finalists - myself and nine others.
The ceremony is on Friday, 29th April, so I will be heading down at the crack of dawn to London, because the event is taking place at Canary Wharf.
What does it mean to you to have got this far?
A lot. There are two reasons why I jumped at this application.
The first one was the partnership firm, Clyde and Co, a fantastic firm that I really could see myself working for.
But also personal barriers of my own. Non-Russell Group university students are really under-represented in this area. That's just one of the main reasons why I'm so excited to have gotten this far just to really demonstrate to other students that it's not a hinderance if you have such a fantastic community and support network around you. I'm really happy to have got to this stage to be honest, just to demonstrate it's doable.
If you look at the stats for commercial law, the representation of non-Russell Group university students with training contracts at city law firms is very small. There's still a very rigid stereotype in Law, it's still seen as a prestigious profession to get into. There are a lot of partner firms trying to take positive steps to change that, Clyde and Co being one of them. But for students that work hard and attend great universities like Salford, it can really knock their confidence a bit. You have to pick yourself up and carry on. So to get something like this just proves that it is doable, and they do consider other applicants.
To be able to go down to London and not only represent Salford but to represent people from a number of under-represented groups, it is something I am very proud of and I look forward to.
I just want to show other students that you can do things like this; so don't read something and think it's not worth fighting for, don’t kick yourself, just go for it and see where it takes you.
What sort of support has the university given you in getting out there and not accepting what the world expects of you?
So the application for Future Lawyer I did on an individual basis but prior to that, the university has given me a lot of opportunities that I can add to my CV. I took part in the Common Purpose Future Leadership programme. It was a three day intensive course that the university notified me of, that I was able to take part in through them.
I’ve also taken part in the university's internal moot competition. That was another great experience that ran throughout the year, working on dispute resolution and debates and things like that. That enabled me to develop those skills of public speaking and interacting with new people. I took part in the University competition and I got to the quarterfinals. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to take it further because it was the end of the year but it was just confidence boosting.
The support from the lecturers has been fantastic. Even throughout COVID, the interactions I’ve had with them, there has always been someone to answer your emails and help with the work itself. They helped to alleviate the stress from the academic side and allowed me to take part in those extracurricular activities, which can be a massive balancing task but it's definitely been doable
Building upon those extracurricular activities throughout my time in uni has given me the confidence to throw myself into these applications and not consider those statistics and think about where I come from or what under-represented groups I'm a part of. I’ve just kind of launched myself into it, to be the best that I can. The support’s been great, it's just been lovely to hear everyone in the university rooting for me and how proud everyone is. So it's just been fantastic to get this far.
So what’s next?
So I am going to do my LPC next summer. I've just got a place for that at the University of Law in Manchester. I'm going to incorporate that with the Masters so I’ll be doing an LLM LPC which will finish July time, the following year. During that time, I will continue applying for training contracts and vacation schemes.
Doing so well in the Future Lawyer award has given me more of that confidence to continue applying for them. The opportunities are there. There may be obstacles and personal barriers but you've just got to take these opportunities by the horns, especially in law, due to its competitiveness, the lack of social mobility and the prestigious outlook. Just really take advantage of them so, when it comes to an interview, you can show how passionate you are.