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Alumni Profiles

Our alumni go on to successful careers in law and beyond.

Alumni in the legal sector

Funke Abimbola - Multi-award winning lawyer, public speaker, TV contributor, diversity leader, patron and board member (LLB 1994)

Funke Abimbola is General Counsel and Head of Financial Compliance at Roche, the multinational pharmaceutical company. She is the most senior black lawyer in her field and is ranked by the Financial Times as one of the top 20 BAME leaders internationally, and by Debretts as the most influential black lawyer in Britain. Funke is a strong advocate of corporate and social diversity. In 2014, she was nominated for a National Diversity Award, and in the same year she was nominated for the Law Society Excellence Awards. In 2015, she won a Positive Role Model Award and in 2016 she received a Point of Light award recognising the impact of her voluntary diversity work in the UK. She is an advisory board member for Women in Law London, founder of Women Leaders in Life Sciences Law and a regular contributor to radio and television, and a TEDx speaker. She gave the keynote speech at the Inspirational BAME Women of the Law, part of the Freedom City programme at the University, in 2017.

The Honourable Mr Justice Matthew Nicklin - Justice of the High Court (LLB 1992)

Sir Matthew Nicklin was appointed a Justice of the High Court, assigned to the Queen’s Bench Division, in October 2017. Before appointment, he was a barrister and media law specialist, and former Joint Head of Chambers at 5RB. After graduating from Newcastle with a first class degree in law in 1992, he was called to the Bar by Lincoln’s Inn in October 1993. He was awarded a Pegasus Scholarship by the Inns of Court in 1998 and undertook a placement in Sydney Australia with King Wood Mallesons and Justice David Levine at the Supreme Court of New South Wales. Matthew was a barrister member of the Board of the Bar Standards Board from 2008 to 2013. He was appointed a Recorder in 2009, a QC in 2013 and a Deputy High Court Judge in 2017. Matthew is still actively involved with the Law School and is a member of the School’s Advisory Board.

Mark Stafford - Partner at Lee & Thompson LLP (LLB 1999)

The Law School at Newcastle had an excellent reputation, plus I loved the city. The range of topics taught was excellent, it was there that I learnt that there was such a thing as entertainment law, which then became my primary focus and the area in which I now work. Newcastle's such a vibrant and friendly city, easy to get around with a fantastic arts, music and cultural scene. I'm a partner in the dispute resolution, digital and brand protection teams at leading UK media and entertainment law firm Lee & Thompson. I advise on the myriad of contentious issues that arise every day in the world of media and entertainment, as well as on the ways in which clients can protect their intellectual property and mitigate against potential problems. A 2:1 in Law from Newcastle opened lots of doors and got me interviews for training contracts at the right firms.

Lynda Manning - Partner, Till Henderson, New Plymouth, New Zealand (Law, 1988)

The course was highly recommended by friends and I liked what I saw on an open day. Many of the lecturers were working as Barristers and had experience in the profession. There was a wide variety of options and I like the fact that the Law Faculty was quite small. I moved to New Zealand two days after graduation and qualified as a Barrister and Solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand two years later. I have never ever felt disadvantaged as my degree was from another country. The research skills and the way I was taught to think at Newcastle have been invaluable throughout my career. I have worked as a Family court lawyer and every day the paramountcy principal that I first learnt at Newcastle comes into play. I was made a Partner in my firm after six years and am my regions representative to the New Zealand Family law section. My degree certificate hangs proudly in my office. The degree trained me how to think and evaluate situations and how to come up with solutions.

Deemster David Doyle - First Deemster and Clerk of the Rolls of the Isle of Man (Law, 1981)

I still vividly remember, during my first week at Newcastle University, being shown how to get the best out of a law library and picking up a law report and reading a judgment. From that moment on I had always wanted to be a Deemster (a High Court judge) and in March 2003 I was fortunate enough to be appointed Her Majesty’s Second Deemster following the first open competition for the position. David, who graduated with a degree in law in 1981, was appointed Her Majesty’s first Deemster and Clerk of the Rolls - in effect the Chief Justice of the Isle of Man - in 2010. He has enjoyed a highly successful career and remembers his time at Newcastle warmly. My best memories are the cross-country running, the football, the live music at weekends, the adrenalin rush of the mooting competitions and the comfort and security of the well stocked law library. With hindsight, I probably spent too much time in the library but the law library at Newcastle University was a very inspiring place to be.

Richard Stubbs - Barrister, Self Employed, Trinity Chambers (Law with French (BA Hons), 2004)

Newcastle's a great place that I now call home. The people are warm and welcoming and there is a great buzz about the place. It has very good restaurants and bars and has a beautiful coastline very nearby. The sports offering in and around the city is also second to none. I knew that ideally I wanted to stay in Newcastle and I was fortunate to obtain pupillage at Trinity Chambers (Newcastle and Middlesbrough) while I was still at university. I did what was then called my Bar Vocational Course and returned to Newcastle. I have been at Trinity ever since. I thoroughly enjoy my job and my most important career goal was to enjoy what I do at work. My degree prepared me well for my career that has followed. I enjoyed playing rugby for the lawyers team at Newcastle University and maintain an interest in rugby, although now through following the Falcons. Perhaps most importantly I met my wife at university.

Rahayu Abd Ghani - Managing Partner, Rahayu Partnership (Law, 1996)

I was part of the Northern Consortium of UK universities programme offered by the then Mara Institute of Technology, where Newcastle University was one of the universities. Frankly, I chose it by chance but I have never regretted that decision. The lecturers back then who were able to deliver their lectures and tutorials very well, keeping me interested in the subjects. I started my attachment in a law firm specialising in admiralty and maritime matters and continued with my pupillage. I was retained thereafter and remained with the law firm until 2011 before I moved to another firm which is now known as Rahayu Partnership. Apart from doing admiralty and maritime works, I have since diversified into other areas of law in the corporate and commercial sphere. My only regret was not being participative enough during my university days and leverage on all the activities back then. I now know and appreciate the power of networking.

Christopher McKinney - Partner, Access Legal Solicitors (Shoosmiths LLP) (LLB, 1981)

I went for an interview at Newcastle and was impressed with both the city and the university, particularly the quality of the teaching and variety of options. It's a really lively and vibrant city to study in. I went on to Law School Chester and a training contract in Nottingham to qualify as a solicitor. I then worked at personal injury specialist before partnership at East Midlands firm (Ironsides now Nelsons) aged 29. I stayed there until 2010 when moved to Shoosmiths as Partner in the PI team. The Law degree led to me deciding to become a solicitor and set me on the path to train to become a solicitor. It's an excellent Law School and fantastic city to live and study in. My eldest son is thinking of studying there on my recommendation.

Stephen Fallon - Solicitor in the litigation team at Newtons Solicitors (Law, 1997)

I chose to study Law LLB at the Law School because it had an excellent reputation, as did the University itself, while the city of Newcastle has always been well-known as a welcoming place to study and enjoy the other aspects of student life. What I liked the most about the course was the friendly and approachable staff (both academic and support staff). I currently work at Newtons Solicitors in North Yorkshire. I’m a solicitor in the litigation team which involves attempting to resolve a wide variety of cases for a similarly wide variety of clients; from disputes over pet ownership for separating couple to shareholder disputes in relation to businesses worth hundreds of thousands of pounds. My law degree gave me the essential foundations on which I have built my legal career to date, while the reputation of Newcastle Law School has no doubt helped to open a few doors for me.

Alumni not in the legal sector

Laura Heads - Production Journalist at ITV (Law LLB, 2011)

The course was perfectly suited to what I wanted and the staff in the law school were so encouraging. I was able to get the help I needed when I wanted it, and in third year, adapt it how I wanted to and take the courses I wanted to take, including those outside of the law school. I work for ITV now, helping to produce the local West Country bulletins. My job involves finding news, interviewing people, filming clips, producing bulletins and coordinating reporters and staff to get the very best of the headlines on the news. I've also worked a fair bit in the national ITN newsroom and had many opportunities across the company. I think it was invaluable. Even though I didn't choose to go into law in the end, the skills it taught me around deciphering information, getting to the heart of a story, and being able to read around a subject was second to none. It also helps greatly when I'm sent to cover a court case.

Katy Nicholas - Vice President (Regulatory PM) at Barclays (Law LLB Hons, 2012)

I wanted a well-rounded course with amazing teaching but also a chance to study subjects in depth, like law and medicine or terrorism and counter-terrorism law. I had a brief stint working as an account assistant for a high end concierge company in London but missed the academic challenge of law and finance. I work in regulatory project management, in banks. I started out working as a Business Analyst/PMO with First Derivatives plc, working in banks in Singapore and Dublin. During my time in Dublin I worked as a project manager for a regulatory programme and absolutely loved the challenge and fulfilment of managing an end to end delivery. I then moved back to London to start working for Barclays as a Project Manager VP on a regulation called BCBS 239. I currently work there and absolutely love it. Newcastle gave me a well rounded education and an ability to decipher and regurgitate detailed information.

Carl Watson - Global Legal Director (Places) at Arcadis (Law LLB, 1997)

I am very proud of my roots in the city and North-East region. What I liked the most about the course was the accessibility of the teaching staff – an approachable and collegiate style of teaching, blended with use of seminars very much suits my learning style. Plus the range of subject modules to choose from. The course gave me a structure to legal analysis that I bring with me today. Also, an ability to prioritise legal issues and deal with them methodically. Crucially, it provided me with skills to communicate complex legal concepts into an accessible narrative that non-lawyers can grasp. I live and work in Hong Kong but will shortly transition back to the UK after 12 years in Asia. I am the Global Legal Director for a business unnit within a large, global design and consultancy business. In my role, I am a member of the global executive team for my unit and take the lead for legal, compliance and privacy solutions and assurance.

Harriet Allen - Senior Business Developer, Allianz Insurance PLC (Law, 2014)

The law school has a good reputation and is a good distance away from where I grew up in North Yorkshire. I liked that it was in a row of converted houses, it didn't feel foreboding or intimidating. I'm really proud to have studied there; I feel like I have been part of a great student fraternity. I went to Australia and interned for Greg Piper MP in New South Wales as his research assistant. I then came back to the UK and worked as a Paralegal for an Industrial Disease expert. I then joined Allianz as a Management Trainee before becoming a commercial motor underwriter and team leader. In September 2018 I became a Senior Business Developer in Southampton responsible for growing a panel of 20+ brokers which is currently at £17m of Gross Written Premium. Newcastle Law School gives you the opportunity to develop essential life skills, not just career skills, in a supportive environment.

Erika Miller - Civil Servant, Department for Education (Law LLB, 2015)

The module options felt modern whilst including all the traditional aspects of a law degree; Newcastle law school struck the right balance between tradition and modernity. It had a great reputation and seemed an exciting city to live in. Straight after graduating, I undertook the Teach First graduate scheme, the Leadership Development Programme. This involved teaching secondary school English full time and gaining a post grad in education. I finished my grad scheme and went to work in government policy development for the Department for Education, which is where I am now. Studying law gave me a deep appreciation for society and how it operates. That's been essential for working in government policy development. I present options on how the law can be changed to fit with the government's agenda. The best of both worlds - Newcastle is a modern, progressive institution with a firm footing in tradition.

Mike Barton - Chief Constable (LLB 1978)

Mike Barton is Chief Constable of Durham Constabulary. He graduated from Newcastle with a degree in Law in 1978, and served for 28 years in Lancashire Constabulary before joining Durham as assistant chief constable in 2008, being made chief constable in 2012. He has introduced new ways of tackling organised criminals, and Durham is now recognised as a leading force in tackling serious and organised crime as well as managing offenders. In 2016, Mike was awarded the Queen’s Police Medal in recognition of his decades of service. In 2018, Durham Constabulary was rated “outstanding” by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services for the third year running, the only force in the country to receive the top grade.

Jake Milburn - Senior Solutions Project Manager, Ocado Solutions (Law, 2015)

Newcastle is a great city with a well regarded law school. The breadth of legal study available, including historical and literature context to law, was excellent. There were some charismatic lecturers. The city was fun, affordable, small and, therefore, accessible. Since graduating, I've been at Ocado as an Operations Management Graduate, Operational Excellence Implementation Manager, Project Support Manager, Solutions Project Manager and Senior Solutions Project Manager. I enjoyed law due to the detailed approach to critical thinking. I gained comfort with interrogating and negotiating contractual terms. Newcastle is an accessible city and small law school with a community feel.

John Innocent - Lecturer, St. Augustine University, Tanzania (International Trade Law, 2006)

The University has outstanding research and publication and is among the best University in the UK. When I arrived at the University I was warmly welcomed. The University has rich of readings both ordinary library and online library. I had enjoyed to study there as I met with different cultures and nationalities. It is a good city with good landscape, the two rivers, Tyne and Wear, Millennium Bridge and the people are nice and charming. Since 2008 I have been lecturing at St. August University of Tanzania, at Mwanza Campus, and also I am a Barrister of the High Court of Tanzania and the Court of Appeal since 2010 to date. It was difficult to learn the culture in Newcastle but later on I made friends and also transport is good to connect every places. It is a centre for academic excellence.

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