LLM International Commercial LawSteven McLaughlin

Tell us a bit about your background...
I was born and raised in South Lanarkshire and went to school in Hamilton. When I was in school, I enjoyed history and business so when I was applying to university, these were the courses I was looking at. My mum is a big inspiration in my life and has always owned her own business, so I have always been very enterprise focused. As a result of this, I started a BA in History and economics. It wasn’t until I did a couple of elective classes in law that I realised that I was really interested so I immediately swapped to the LLB degree. My parents have always pushed me to do my best and have been very encouraging in the decisions I have made in my life and this was one they fully supported. I believe that once you leave school, you are far too young to fully know what you want to do so I am very glad I chose a wide range of subjects to get a feel for university before choosing law as a career to pursue.

What attracted you to Strathclyde specifically?
When I was applying to universities, Strathclyde’s open day grabbed my attention. It was clear that they had an excellent business school and law department which for my interests was perfect. More importantly though, I loved that it was a city centre campus which meant there was a real buzz about the area. The people there are also very likeminded people to me – very down to earth and always available to offer assistance, no matter how silly you think a question is. The main selling point of Strathclyde is definitely its culture and that is really what attracted me to it. I would always say that Strathclyde has a perfect balance of a great social life whilst also providing an excellent education.

What inspired you to pursue the diploma in legal practice at Strathclyde?
As mentioned, I completed my undergraduate degree at Strathclyde and I knew many people who had gone on to do the diploma there. It is a firm system where you work with the same group for all of your classes and assignments which at first sounds daunting, but I believe you gain the best practical experience from this. We have all had those one group assignments in undergrad where a group member hasn’t pulled their weight but, in the diploma,, everyone who is there is there for the same reason – to gain their practicing certificate so what I actually found was that the group work was highly beneficial and allowed me to gain greater insight into how the law works in practice and how to work as part of a team. I am a practical learner, so this particularly appealed to me and this is why I chose to pursue the diploma at Strathclyde. 

Why did you choose to study for the LLM International Commercial Law?
I completed my diploma in March 2020 and was in the process of looking for traineeships. This was of course when the market crashed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and it wasn’t until the September a week before classes were to start that I made the decision to do the masters. It was always something I said I would have liked to do and commercial law was the area I wanted to practice so I saw this as a chance to gain more experience and knowledge about that area. The course itself strongly enhanced my commercial awareness and gave me a greater breadth of knowledge which has helped me progress much further in my career into commercial law. 

What has been the highlight of your time at Strathclyde so far?
In my second year, I took part in the Strathclyde internal mooting competition and advanced all the way to the semi-final. Due to our success, my partner and I were then asked to represent the university at an international negotiation competition in India. This was an amazing offer which neither of us could turn down. That summer we were trained in negotiation by one of Strathclyde’s professors and went to compete against people from all over the world. We were funded and well supported by the university and had an amazing time sightseeing in India, whilst also meeting new friends and competing in the competition. This was by far a highlight of my time at Strathclyde and was such an amazing opportunity.

You are specialising in Financial Regulation. What is it that captures your attention about this area of the law?
When I started the LLM International Commercial law, I was offered the option to take the two financial law classes and gain a specialism in this. I had never done financial or banking law before but have always thought this would be something I would enjoy. The classes exceeded my expectations and, although were probably my hardest classes, have given me significant understanding of banking law which looks incredible to any commercial law firm I apply for. I would now even say that I would be happy to complete a traineeship seat in banking and this has become my ambition.

What would be your advice for people considering taking this course?
If you have an interest in commercial law, I cannot recommend this course enough. It has helped me so much in achieving interviews and a summer vacation scheme with Pinsent Masons. It was certainly the best decision I made during the COVID-19 pandemic.

What are your plans now that you have finished your masters?
As I write this, I have a summer vacation scheme with Pinsent Masons and I have recently just been offered a paralegal job with them.