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Shiryn Sayani

Shiryn Sayani

LLB Law 2016

Communications Manager (Policy & Campaigns), The Bar Council.

After leaving Exeter I gained some work experience at the BBC, at a human rights charity called Amicus-ALJ, and at the District-Attorney’s Office in Athens, GA in the United States. I also volunteered at Gloucester Law Centre and then began a job as a Policy Assistant for the Bar Council, which represents all barristers in England and Wales and raises justice policy issues with the government. At the Bar Council, I was promoted to Communications Officer (Policy & Campaigns) and then to my current role: Communications Manager (Policy & Campaigns), during which time I was also named as one of PRWeek UK’s 30 under 30 comms professionals – a huge honour.

It was a job I didn’t know existed when I was at university, but it allows me to use a mixture of creativity, relationship building and legal awareness to develop campaigns and affect external discussions and outcomes on a range of issues, including access to justice but also diversity and inclusion, the treatment of lawyers and respect for the rule of law internationally, and more. I enjoy working with senior leaders, both in the legal sector and beyond and advising them on the best approach to take in external relations, as well as having a direct line into the press and media to help create valuable stories about how the justice system affects the public.

I chose to study at Exeter because it had a good reputation for Law and when I visited, I just felt comfortable – it was a small, scenic university town but still felt well connected enough that I wouldn’t get bored. Exeter is very close-knit and to me it was the ideal uni town – lots of greenery, easy access to uni buildings and always seeing people you know in town and on nights out! I was a part of Xpression FM, as a trained presenter with a weekly show. I was also a member of Bracton Law Society, Women and Law and the Undergraduate Journal. Big highlights would have to be the Law Ball that was held at Exeter Castle (a completely unique experience), trips to the many nearby beaches in warm weather and of course the classic Exeter tradition of the Tar Barrels at Ottery St Mary on Bonfire Night.

My area of study was challenging, given I had no previous exposure to law, but so interesting. I was able to study such a wide range of areas, from Constitutional Law to Gender, Sexuality & Law, as well as Negotiation and Medical Ethics and Law. I learnt a lot about contemporary issues in society which you don’t necessarily expect in a traditional-seeming programme. The quality of the teaching at Exeter meant getting access to - and opportunities for questioning - experts in their field, which isn’t something you can get anywhere. Learning to construct persuasive arguments and attention to detail is definitely a bonus whatever your career path, but it has been particularly so for mine, as persuasive communication is fundamental to law and to everything I do.

Looking to the future, I’m hoping to learn more about a different area of policy issues and how to affect change on them, through my current voluntary role on the Policy & Campaigns Advisory Group of the MNDA. I have been lucky during my career so far to have met some really helpful mentors to seek advice from. I’m also currently studying alongside work for a CIPR Specialist Diploma in Public Affairs. I aim to develop my career in the field of campaigns and communications, hopefully getting the chance to work across different sectors in years to come.

My advice to current students and new graduates would be to explore your options – there are really interesting lesser-known roles out there – and reach out to people who are in careers that interest you, even if you’ve never met them in person. The legal field suffers from perceptions that connections and unpaid internships are the only way in, and that’s certainly how I felt going in, but I now know that’s not the reality - you can get useful experience and support regardless. People are willing to help. Be open minded and curious, demonstrate your interest and keep on top of the issues by reading relevant news and asking questions.