Legal Eagle Fiona Neilson took to the stage to collect her law diploma from RGU on Wednesday, July 10, at a ceremony at His Majesty’s Theatre at 10.30am.
Fiona studied her undergraduate LLB Honours at RGU and decided to return to earn her Diploma in Professional Legal Practice – and after five years she feels like she has come full circle with the university.
The 21-year-old, from Fraserburgh, always liked school and being in education so university just seems like the natural step and she joined RGU when she was just 17.
She said: “RGU had a 98% employment rate so that was the main factor in my decision to apply, along with how modern the campus was. My decision to do the full law degree was based on the wide variety of modules offered by RGU.
“I am very proud of my achievements at university, I went to university when I was only 17 and moved into halls before I could even drive. I’m really glad that I stuck with the course as I’ve learned so much and met some of my best friends as a direct result of going to university.
“The day I received my first class honours classification was by far the one of the proudest and most surreal moments of my life. It was such a relief to find out that my hard work had finally paid off!
“I then went on to study the diploma and one of my favourite aspects of it was that we were taught by qualified and trainee solicitors which meant that we were able to gain an insight as to how things worked in practice and how best to approach sensitive matters like dealing with a persons estate after a person has died.
“We heard a lot about our tutors time in practice and received practical tips and advice from them regarding the do’s and dont’s of being a trainee solicitor!
Fiona said the course was very practical which meant she got opportunities to role play and undertake a lot of group work such as conducting interviews, negotiations and mock tribunals.
“In the first semester, we got to attend the Sheriff Court and prepare a court report as part of an assessment and I felt this linked well with the visit I had in first year of my undergraduate LLB, it felt like I had come full circle - from feeling daunted at the prospect of sitting in a court room to understanding exactly what was going on and the actual stages of a trial gave me a real sense of accomplishment.
“At RGU, I’ve learned how to work as part of a team, with people of different ages and backgrounds and learned my own strengths and limits. I think that tutorials in particular taught me that it’s better to just have a go at something first than say that you’re stuck or don’t understand, instead of just accepting that you can’t do something and giving up straightaway.”
Fiona has secured a traineeship with Ledingham Chalmers LLP in Aberdeen so will start as a Trainee Solicitor in August.
However, law is not her only talent. Fiona also learned how to drive a bus on the days she wasn’t at RGU.
“My Mum and Dad run a successful coach business, Kineil Coaches Ltd, where I worked during the summers, once I started my diploma I was only in university three days a week so I started learning to drive a bus instead of just helping out in the office.
“Once my course ended in May, I started driving a bus full time and will do so until I start my traineeship.”