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Alan Ball

Career Path: Solicitor, Irwin Mitchell
Location: Leeds, UK

I have always had a strong interest in personal injury law, which partly stems from studying Tort Law at Northumbria. During my training contract at Irwin Mitchell I completed seats in the Family Law, Contentious Probate, and Serious Injury (neuro-trauma and spinal injury) Departments at Irwin Mitchell. I have now qualified into the Serious Injury Team and work on major catastrophic injury cases, for clients who have suffered a serious brain or spinal cord injury.

I find that this is a fascinating area of law to work in. There is no better feeling than helping clients achieve the right result when they are facing difficult and emotional situations, caused by a client or a loved one suffering serious injury. This is an area that I hope to continue to specialise in throughout my legal career.

What are you doing now?

I am a newly qualified Solicitor working in the Neurotrauma and Spinal Injury Team at Irwin Mitchell. I work on high value and catastrophic injury cases which can be sad and challenging, but also very rewarding when you achieve the right result for your client and their family.Alan Ball

What was it about Northumbria that made you decide to study here?

A combination of things, from the brand new Law School, the reputation of Northumbria and the opportunity to live and study in Newcastle which is a great student city. Also the reputation of Northumbria and the Students Union as a fun and interesting place to be.

What was it like studying at Northumbria?

Some of the lecturers were really memorable, in particular Ralph Tierman who taught Tort Law with no slides as he knew the course so well! Also, Adam Jackson who taught Criminal Law. There were both lectures and smaller seminars were you could interact with other students and the lecturers were always really helpful and would make time for you. There are also brilliant facilities in the Law School including the law library, mock court room and the Student Law Office.

How connected was your course with industry?

Personally Northumbria's connection with Irwin Mitchell gave me a unique opportunity to introduce me to the firm. In my third year I was awarded the Irwin Mitchell Pro Bono Scholarship, I was very proud to be awarded this Scholarship with the prize being a one month placement at the Pro Bono Law Clinic at City University in New York City! Irwin Mitchell kindly sponsored my trip to New York and after this I managed to gain some invaluable work experience in the Irwin Mitchell Newcastle office. This was one of many connections that Northumbria has with local law firms.

How did studying at Northumbria help you achieve your career goals/ give your career an edge?

It gave me a great grounding into how law works in practice rather than just teaching me about the theory of the law. I believe the experience of working in the Student Law Office is attractive to law firms as it shows that you already have an understanding of how law works in practice.

What was the best thing about your course?

The practical element of the course and learning how law works in practice - in particular working in the Student Law Office and helping real clients.

Which skills/ knowledge did you learn on your course that you use most now throughout your career?

Understanding how cases work in practice. Also I never underestimate the basics which I learned in the Student Law Office such as letter writing and communication with clients and defendants, these are fundamental and practical skills that most courses do not teach.

What did you enjoy most about your time at Northumbria University?

So many things but to name a few: meeting some of my best friends who I know will be friends for life, getting to live in Newcastle which is an unbelievable student city where I stayed for four years after finishing my degree and finally meeting my wife, Hollie Ball, on my course!

What advice would you give somebody who is thinking of studying at Northumbria?

Do it! If you want a career in law then Northumbria is one of the best places to study. This is due to the practical approach of the course in teaching students about how the law works in practice rather than just by studying statute in text books. In particular, the Student Law Office provides invaluable experience of meeting clients and learning how cases are run which is something you would not get at most universities.

How would you describe your time at Northumbria in three words?

Motivational, fun and inspiring.

For more information about me see:

  • Twitter: @AlanBall080716

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