How Keele started me on the path to where I am today

At 24 years old, Victoria Zinzan became one of the youngest qualified solicitors her firm had ever seen.

Victoria ZinZan

At 24-years-old, Victoria Zinzan became one of the youngest qualified solicitors her firm had ever seen.

The average age of a qualified solicitor in the UK is believed to be around 29 years old, but high-flying Victoria is ahead of most. Victoria, a solicitor in the Medical Negligence department at Irwin Mitchell, studied Law at Keele between 2016-19, and the 25-year-old puts part of the early success in her career down to the University, her lecturers, and the opportunities she was given during her degree.

She said: "I was originally planning to go to another university and Keele was my second choice, but looking back, I’m so glad I came to Keele. It started me on the path to get to where I am today and gave me opportunities that I don’t think I would have got elsewhere."

As well as meeting her now fiancée on her second day at university, one of the first things that Victoria remembers about Keele is being impressed by how active its Law Society was.

She said: "They ran many events, both educational and social, and I knew they would look brilliant on my CV, so I got involved straight away. One of the key skills you need as a junior lawyer is networking and the events were a great way to begin interacting with professionals such as barristers and solicitors, learning real social skills in a new environment.

"I thought my degree and the standard of teaching was absolutely brilliant. I’m still in touch with some of my lecturers now and they check in with me to see how I am getting on. More recently I have been invited back to speak at the Keele Law Society Legal Dining event. It’s really nice to still have that connection with Keele, and that the University continues to recognise the achievements of its alumni."

During her final year at Keele, Victoria applied and got accepted onto the Legal Practice Course (LPC) at the University of Law. She also applied for a training contract at mfg Solicitors, in Worcestershire, and showed initiative by reaching out to the company’s HR Manager on Linkedin.

She said: "I knew mfg had previously sponsored a graduation award at Keele, and they had an existing relationship with the University. The HR manager responded to say he was actually attending a careers fair at Keele the following day and asked me if I wanted to meet. I am incredibly grateful that Keele was one of the universities which hosted an annual careers fair as this provided me with an opportunity to meet the HR manager in person, putting a face to the name on my application form. Shortly after I was invited to interview and then got offered a training contract.

"I started the LPC a few months after graduating in 2019, and then started the two-year training contract in September 2020. I qualified as a solicitor in September 2022 and moved to Irwin Mitchell upon qualification.

"Irwin Mitchell is one of the biggest clinical negligence law firms in the UK and I’d always been interested in medical negligence as an area of law. At Keele there were several medical law modules available, such as healthcare law and mental health law. I focused my dissertation on medical negligence so it’s great to be working in that field now.

"I find myself doing something different every day at work, whether that be going to court, taking a witness statement or drafting correspondence to clients and medical experts. I work on a whole variety of cases and building up relationships with medical experts is an important part of my job. The skills I gained at Keele, including all the networking I did, have been useful as I grow in my career."

The next step Victoria strives for is to become an associate, but her ultimate goal is to make partner in the firm.

She added: "Keele played such a big role in getting me to where I am today and I’m so proud to be Keele alumni."