Staffs student wins top law prize

A former gas fitter who set his sights on becoming a barrister has been awarded a prestigious prize to support his new career

Ryan Zwetschnikow photographed in the mock law court on campus

Ryan Zwetschnikow is one of just eight students across the UK to receive the Lincoln's Inn Neuberger Prize this year

The fact that I've been chosen does mean a lot. Everything that I gain from the Neuberger Prize and all the advice that I receive from various barristers, from various different backgrounds, who are all practising at the Bar will be invaluable.

Ryan Zwetschnikow, LLB (Hons) Law

Ryan Zwetschnikow, 24, from Birches Head, completed a diploma in gas engineering after leaving school at 16, before opting to change direction and pursue a Law degree at Staffordshire University.

“I really enjoyed the theory side and I just thought, I'll give Law a shot and it was the best decision I ever made.” Ryan explained.

After completing a foundation year, Ryan is now studying LLB (Hons) Law and applied for the Lincoln’s Inn Neuberger Prize with support from his lecturers and the careers team.

The annual prize is awarded to outstanding students from non-Russell Group universities about to begin their last year of a qualifying law degree – and Ryan is one of just eight students across the UK to be chosen.

Ryan said: “It didn't sink in at first. I can remember when I read the email, I read it three times just to make sure before I contacted anyone! It's a recognition of hard work, especially as I didn't do A-levels and it was never a plan from school to become a lawyer.

“The fact that I've been chosen does mean a lot. Everything that I gain from the Neuberger Prize and all the advice that I receive from various barristers, from various different backgrounds, who are all practising at the Bar will be invaluable.”

As part of the Neuberger Prize, Ryan is given free membership of Lincoln’s Inn, a mentor during his final year of university and a monetary prize of £250. Another benefit is a sought after mini-pupillage, which provides work experience shadowing a barrister.

Ryan also took part in the recent Prize Winners Summer School, which included networking, workshops and a visit to the Old Bailey.

“I’m not from an academic background. I’m the first generation to go to university and I wasn't sure that I would fit in. But everyone at Lincoln's Inn made the entire experience very welcoming.”

He added: “I can remember when I was a gas engineer and I'd begun working straight out of school. I thought, if it doesn't pay off, I'm potentially leaving a full-time job to go to university. If I never took the risk then I would not be here now.”

After graduating and completing his Bar qualifications Ryan hopes to become a criminal barrister.

Anna Garland, Course Director for Undergraduate Law at Staffordshire University, commented: "The Neuberger Prize is highly competitive, with universities only able to make one nomination each. The Law Department team is immensely proud that Ryan has been selected as one of the 2023 prize winners.

“I am certain that he will benefit from this amazing opportunity to network with the Bar and make further steps towards realising his professional ambitions."

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Find out if you are eligible for an offer through Clearing by using our Offer Generator and have a ‘live chat’ with current students at http://www.staffs.ac.uk/clearing/ or call our Clearing hotline on 0800 590 830.

 

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