Class of 2023: Benjamin O'Connell

We’re so proud of our Class of 2023. They’ve overcome enormous challenges, helped others, grasped opportunities, and developed their skills, showing their Essex Spirit in so many ways. And they’ve done all of this during a pandemic when life – and student life – changed beyond recognition. Here, we’re taking the opportunity to share some of their stories.

  • Date

    Wed 12 Jul 23

LLB Law graduate Ben O'Connell sat at his desk

Award-winning student Benjamin O’Connell feels his time at Essex has set him up for success, no matter what comes next.

Benjamin has spent his final year acting as Student Director for Essex Law Clinic and was recognised for his outstanding contribution to the Housing and Homelessness project when he won the Law Works Student Pro Bono Award in April.

The award recognised his success working with Colchester charity Beacon House, where he helped overturn 18 incorrect homeless assistance application decisions and worked on more than 70 cases.

Benjamin is graduating with an LLB Law this summer and hopes to either take up a training contract or position as a graduate solicitor apprentice with a view to qualifying as a solicitor.

He was drawn to volunteering at the Clinic after learning about the great work it does in the local community.

“There simply aren’t enough words for me to sum up everything I’ve learnt,” Benjamin said.

“From skill acquisition and development, letter writing, client handling skills, interview techniques, addressing client concern, working with teams of students and staff. I genuinely feel this experience has set me up to succeed no matter what I choose to do next.

“The Clinic and degree more generally really do feed into one another nicely. I think a particular high this year has been the Family Law module, having already done Family Law casework in the Clinic it was really a different experience to be able to relate the two elements and use them to increase my knowledge and understanding.”

Benjamin chose to study at Essex having been raised in the county where he still lives today with his young family.

As a mature student, he has pushed himself out of his comfort zone by taking part in mooting competitions which, along with providing real-life advice as part of his work with the law clinic, has boosted his self-belief and knowledge of law. He insists he will always look back fondly on his time at Essex.

“This is a bit cliché but the best thing for me is the community at Essex.

“I consider students I have met and many of the staff to be genuine colleagues and friends of mine at this point in time and the way they have all helped to shape my experience is something I will always be grateful for and remember.

“Every single lecturer I’ve had has been so dedicated and professional to their individual expertise and to further student experience that I would recommend the School of Law to anyone who asks.”