Cheryl Laird: ‘I may not be able to realise my ambition…because I just can’t afford it’

Cheryl Laird

Cheryl Laird, from Blairgowrie, is a 3rd Year law student at Edinburgh University. She is the only member of her family, and one of very few of her school friendship group, to have gone to University. But her hard-work and ambition has allowed her to shine at University. She has achieved consistently good results and received a place on an EU-funded exchange programme allowing her to study for a year at Leuven University, Belgium.

But her focus is not on doing well at University. Her aim is to qualify as a lawyer. She explains what motivates her:

I find law fascinating and I think that it was the perfect degree choice for me…[but]…my ambition is to become a lawyer as I strongly desire a challenging and varied career. I want to work as part of a team of professionals, helping a variety of clients with a variety of different problems.

I began my law degree with a view to going on to practice law. As I matured, I realised that there was a number of different options available to me outside legal practice. However, after seriously thinking about it, I have enjoyed studying my law degree and I can’t actually imagine myself as anything other than a lawyer. I’ll be very disappointed if I am unable to realise my ambition.

Cheryl’s parents have been able to provide some limited help towards her studies. But she has been reliant on a student loan and part-time work to pay her living expenses whilst in Edinburgh. 

However, funding the DPLP is an entirely different prospect. With over £3,000 to find to cover the balance of her fees and with no student loan to help with living costs, she already knows she will struggle to pay for the qualification she needs to become a lawyer. On an intense course like the DPLP, it will be nearly impossible to balance her studies with enough part-time work to bring in the money she needs whilst commercial borrowing is unlikely to be available or suitable.

Cheryl hopes her parents will be able to continue to provide some support to her. But she knows she cannot expect them to provide a bigger contribution, so she is already at a significant disadvantage compared to fellow students from more privileged backgrounds, who find their pathway to the legal profession a much smoother one. She is realistic enough to know that this may well mean that she must delay, or perhaps even abandon her hopes of becoming a lawyer, and she has already started to consider alternative career options:

I will now have to seriously consider my options before I go on to study the diploma. If I can’t find the money to cover my living costs for that year I may have to work for a while after I graduate until I can save enough money to cover the costs. 

If I can’t do the DPLP I would like to work in some form of business; potentially the insurance business…[but]…I feel disappointed and a bit lost that I may not be able to realise my ambition of becoming a lawyer because I just can’t afford it.


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