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On Behind the Scenes at BLS this week, Mary Connolly reflects on how BLS will provided her with the knowledge, inspiration and skills needed to constructively disrupt and transform the legal industry and society.

A photo of Mary Connolly on campus.

Coming from Northern Ireland, I have been painfully aware of the restrictive laws regarding women’s reproductive rights and same sex marriages from a young age. Having never been one to shy away from sharing my point of view, I campaigned for change during my years at secondary school, debated in and outside of the classroom, and even had my own three-day trouser protest as girls were only allowed to wear skirts to my school! As I realised that law governed the change I wanted to see, and I had too many academic interests to pick a subject specific degree at university, I chose law.

I knew that I would be able to learn about the law, but my degree and experience at BLS has stretched me beyond this. I have had the opportunity to question the law, the assumptions and theories that underpin it and have been encouraged to develop and argue my own points of view and for possible law reform. Most recently, for the Gender and Law module I studied, I was able to critique the decision, reasoning and its underlying assumptions of the McFarlane wrongful conception judgment using theories I had been excellently taught. Modules and teaching like this at BLS have allowed, and inspired, me to dig deeper than what the current law is, but why is it like that and how can it be changed. I have learnt about the importance of not just formal, but substantive, equality.

My experience at BLS has been incredible; and so much so, that I’m not quite finished and will be embarking on the LLM next year. From being a mooting finalist, the first Events Officer of the Women in Law Society, a law student rep, mentor and academic tutor, it is fair to say I have thrown myself into all things extra-curricular that BLS has to offer. I have also loved being taught by experts in their research fields, embracing general life in Birmingham and making friends for life in law and across and numerous other courses! 

My time at BLS has also opened my eyes to my various interest outside of social justice and equality. I currently work for a legal technology consultancy company, working in design and learning about how technology can improve the efficiency of legal services. Recently, I have also secured a vacation placement at Pinsent Masons at the Birmingham office this summer.

I hope all of these experiences, and the continued outstanding teaching and learning I have had at BLS will provide me with the knowledge and skills I need to constructively disrupt the legal industry and society. Two goals of mine are to contribute to affording equality for women’s reproductive rights in NI and improve access to justice through technology in the legal industry.