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Class of 2020: Catherine Duggan

We’re so proud of our class of 2020. They've overcome enormous challenges to graduate, but at the same time they've been determined to make a difference - helping others, grasping opportunities to develop their skills and showing their Essex Spirit in so many different ways. Now we're taking the chance to celebrate their achievements.

  • Date

    Wed 22 Jul 20

Catherine Duggan, wearing a maroon-coloured top and glasses

The chance to help vulnerable people and develop vital legal skills prompted Catherine Duggan to transfer from the Open University to Essex where she has successfully juggled studying, pro bono work, part-time employment and two young children.

Catherine, who has completed her LLB Law, has played a vital role in the success and growth of the Essex Law Clinic, which provides people in the community with free legal advice. She has worked on over 40 cases.

“I transferred to Essex when I found out about the Law Clinic. The work they do is so amazing and I knew I wanted to be involved,” Catherine said. “Everyone in the Clinic works together to make sure that our clients get the help they need. We all want the same thing, to help our clients in the best way we can, and we all go above and beyond for them.”

For two years Catherine served as one of two Student Directors which involved weekly management meetings, brainstorming ideas for improvement, mentoring and training volunteers, and providing a voice to volunteers when they wanted to discuss ideas and issues.

Balancing her responsibilities with her family life and own studies was a challenge but Catherine credits staff in the School of Law for helping her succeed: “Every single superviser at the Clinic was so helpful and approachable. If I was struggling with the workload I knew I could speak to them and they would help in any way they could,” she said. 

Catherine, who also helped pioneer the Clinic’s Jaywick project, believes her experiences will give her a step up in her future career: “Every time I have stepped foot in the Clinic I have learnt something new that is a relatable skill to being a solicitor. The supervisors all have a massive pool of knowledge and experience that they are all more than happy to share,” she said.

“Letter writing, practical legal research, interviewing clients, note taking and providing oral advice - these skills take years of practice and training. Partaking in work at the Clinic gives such a great head start.”

Catherine will start her one-year Legal Practice Course with the University of Law in September and has already accepted a two-year training contract with Colchester solicitors Ellisons, which will start in September 2021.