Ciaran Cronnelly - LLB Law graduate

Current employer: Plymouth Citizens Advice Bureau

Current job title: Specialist Debt Caseworker

Current location: Plymouth

“My one piece of advice to anyone considering a course at Plymouth University is to ensure that you make the most of the opportunities presented to you, such as the guest speakers who come onto campus and the many networking events which are organised throughout the year.”

Tell about your career path since graduation.

Whilst volunteering as an adviser for Plymouth Citizens Advice Bureau (PCAB) I undertook a work based learning placement at PCAB as part of my course. In my opinion, this is one reason why I found employment straight after my course with PCAB.

After my exams I was offered a temporary job at the Bureau advising clients on their benefit entitlements and what happens when they return to work; for example, what they need to do as a self-employed person or how they can appeal benefit decisions. Following this I was then offered a further position as a specialist debt caseworker working on a partnership between EDF Energy and Plymouth Citizens Advice Bureau.

Has your career path changed since graduation?

The course certainly gave me more direction about where I wanted to go. When I came to university I wanted to be a solicitor straight away. When the course finished I took a more reserved view and decided that I still wanted to become a lawyer but wanted to work in the legal environment first before committing myself to postgraduate education (Legal Practice Course).

What is the best, most exciting or fun thing that you have done in your career?

At present my greatest career achievement is being asked by our funder, EDFE, to give my opinion and advice on dealing with vulnerable clients with respect to debt. It was also the first time I had been asked to take control of a visit: taking a tour with EDFE, and discussing case studies and how EDFE could change their approach to clients. I was also interviewed and recorded and I am now on a training video for all EDFE staff members!

A further career high has been advising 300 clients with two million pounds worth of debt within my first year!

What is your favourite memory of studying at Plymouth?

I really enjoyed the variety available on my course. I enjoyed the diversity of the subjects and the extracurricular activities associated with the course, such as cheese and wine evenings, and listening to guest speeches from members of the judiciary.

The good bits of the course are definitely the people you meet, many of whom will become good friends after the course has finished. Other good bits included networking events at the aquarium and the array of modules you can choose.

Would you recommend undertaking a course with Plymouth University, and why?

Without the skills I acquired from university I would not have had the confidence to counsel clients. All the subjects I studied were relevant and, as a direct consequence of my degree, I have been able to formulate arguments used to protect clients’ rights and apply methodical research techniques when researching charging orders, new debt relief order rules, and defending possession actions. I feel that I wouldn’t have got my job if it were not for the work based learning module.

I would recommend taking a course with Plymouth University because the teaching is excellent, the links with the community are unrivalled, and the social life is great.

My one piece of advice to anyone considering a course at Plymouth University is to ensure that you make the most of the opportunities presented to you, such as the guest speakers who come onto campus and the many networking events which are organised throughout the year. This will be invaluable – trust me!

Is there anything else which you would like to share with our current students?

The LLB Law course is not just for budding solicitors or barristers. It is viewed highly by other professions and gives you invaluable skills which you can take forward to any future role.

I found the careers advice excellent at the University. We would regularly be told that there are alternative career paths from law and be given guidance on how to enter these professions. I would definitely recommend students talking to staff and exploring their career prospects.