Law graduate turns her childhood dream into reality

Barbara-Jane Davies

Family support worker and children’s volunteer Barbara-Jane Davies realised her dreams about becoming a solicitor when she received her GDL and LLM in Advanced Legal Drafting degree today at Swansea University’s Winter Degree Ceremony.

From an early age all Barbara-Jane ever wanted to be was a solicitor! But life took her on another path... for a while!

Prior to embarking on her courses Barbara-Jane had worked for over fifteen years in child care, as an Outreach Family Support Worker for Sure Start and Family Centres in Carmarthenshire.  She also completed volunteer work with children in South Africa.

Barbara, aged 47 from Burry Port, Carmarthenshire, returned to her studies to complete the GDL (with Commendation) and LLM in Legal Practice & Advanced Drafting (with Merit).

Speaking about her experience at Swansea University Barbara-Jane said: “ From the age of 8 years old all I ever wanted was to be a lawyer, I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives, I had a passion for human rights and particularly the rights of children. My life journey took me on a different path though, and I began working for a local children’s charity and moved on to working with and supporting the parents and families who were facing a range of issues.

“The experience I gained was invaluable when I had the opportunity to visit and volunteer with the ‘Seedling Project’ in Masiphumele township in South Africa. I visited local unregistered crèche’s and a foster home, taking educational supplies donated by Felinfoel Family Centre and Llanelli Netball league. I was able to share some of the ‘learning through play’ skills with the crèche workers.

“Nelson Mandela very much endorsed the idea that the main route out of poverty was through education, but this needed to begin in the early years. Children begin school in South Arica at 6 years old and without this early intervention and stimulation they were likely to be left behind, these skills and tools give children a head start.

“In 2014 our charity, once again, faced a funding crisis and it was uncertain whether we would be able to continue our invaluable work. With this in mind I took my first tentative steps to fulfilling a 40 year old dream that still lay burning in my heart and attended an open day at Swansea University’s Law Department.

“When I asked the question about whether I was too old to make this career change, I was told emphatically that with my life and work experience I would be sought after in the legal profession. Based on this assurance and with the financial, practical and emotional backing of my parents, children and family I took the leap of faith into what was to become the most amazing two years of my life.

“The fascinating topic of the law, my fellow students, who have become lifelong friends, membership of the Bar Society, The Wales Observatory on Human Rights of Children and Young People and of course the wonderful staff and lecturers in the Law Dept, all contributed to making it such an incredible experience and helped me to achieve more than I ever thought possible….Master of Laws (LLM)!!!!

“ Following completion of the LPC I gained some work experience with Carmarthenshire County Council’s Legal Care Department, this further served to affirm that I wanted to work in an area of the law concerned with the rights of children. In November I began my dream job working for Sharon Knox and Vicki Hains in the Family Department at Hains and Lewis, they specialise in representing the Children’s Guardians in Care Proceedings.