Name: Christopher Veal
Programme of study: Law LLB
Year of graduation: 2017
Place of work: Officer, Royal Navy
After graduating from Exeter in 2017 I was a commercial assistant at a boys boarding school where I managed the commercial arm of the school's portfolio. I did this role for a year before joining the Royal Navy in late 2018. Since joining the Navy I have served overseas in Bahrain and Gibraltar, as well as taking part in UK Carrier Strike (Aircraft carrier operations), sovereignty operations (essentially chasing Russians), and fishery protection. I am now an assistant Legal Officer where I assist in operational law.
I chose the Royal Navy for three reasons: first, a family history in the Navy/Royal Marines as opposed to British Army or RAF; second, the internal opportunities available to Officers within the RN (like training to become a Barrister as opposed to the other two services where it is external hiring only); and third with a view to the future (reference transformation) where the Navy is playing a larger role in defence. I enjoy the variety in my job - no day is the same as cliche as that sounds - however, I will not be a Naval Officer forever and I am actively looking for a new role at present.
I came to Exeter for its international human rights expertise. Since my first year, this only increased with courses on immigration, asylum and lectures on human rights, lethal force, evidence, and public international law. I was set to go to Kings College London before my offer holder visit to Exeter and I fell in love with the campus, the city and I liked what the Bracton Law Society offered at the time.
During my studies, I enjoyed my dissertation most. The LLB programme does not mandate a dissertation and I elected to do it on counter-terrorism. Exeter is well regarded for its international law research and I was assigned a very helpful supervisor. If I had my time again, however, I would have elected one non-law module within my studies just to gain a wider perspective in addition to my dissertation. I found law hard, but my degree highlight was the lectures on lethal force in my third year, which helped me gain a firm understanding of operational law principles ahead of my now military career.
Looking back I am very grateful for the diversity of students within the LLB programme. I often say I cannot think of a country I wish to visit where I do not know someone who lives there. From Argentina to Japan, and Singapore. Peru, Brunei and even
Azerbaijan. Such a wide range of people from literally all over the world. I really enjoyed learning from these individuals.
My message to current students would be that your career objectives in your first year will not match what you want/aspire to achieve in your final year or post-University. My objectives in my first year were clear: to be a commercial barrister in London - I did a mini-pupillage and hated it - by the third year it was to serve in the Royal Navy (even though I secured pupillage from a criminal set in my final year). I will likely leave the Royal Navy and return to a civilian law practice/chambers. I have an interest in public international law/international human rights and would like to pursue this later in my career. While in the Navy I started my own E-commerce business and when time allows it is doing well. I may look into expanding this.