Dr Egle Dagilyte is Associate Professor in European Law at ARU. We asked Egle what first interested her in law, how she forged a career, and what advice she can give to students.
1. How and when did you first become interested in your subject?
Law first captured my interest in the 1990s, during my final years at secondary school in Garliava, Lithuania.
In Kaunas region, where Garliava town is located, there was a legal competition for secondary schools that assessed students’ knowledge and practical application of Lithuanian criminal and administrative law. Besides the usual problem scenario questions, there was also a performance task in which one team would act out a scenario and the other would have to say how the law applies and what type of sanctions may be set.
In this way, my first familiarity with law was through acting and understanding the legal rules about speeding, being disorderly in public, theft, mugging or illegally distilling alcoholic drinks.
2. What route did you take to achieve a career in it?
While some may think that a legal career follows a clear distinct trajectory, it is often not the case. There were no legal practitioners in my immediate or extended family, so the social capital on how to succeed as a professional lawyer did not exist, and neither did the university careers advice service. This meant that my classmates and I had to carve our own routes into the world of employment or self-employment.
My passion had always been education. Originally, I wanted to become a language teacher, and was actively engaged in student societies and competitions during school years and undergraduate legal studies.
After graduating with a Lithuanian law degree, I spent a year in the UK, working at a restaurant and a supermarket in Cambridgeshire. This improved my conversational English skills and raised my commercial awareness about the hospitality and retail sectors. The gap year also allowed me to understand how much I preferred learning and a university environment, in result taking me back to Sweden to complete a postgraduate degree in law, followed by a doctorate in the UK.
In Sweden, I gathered a team to take part in the European Law Moot Court Competition, which took us to the Regional rounds in Bratislava, Slovakia.
Prior to and while doing a PhD part-time at King’s College London, I worked at other jobs, including part-time teaching, which helped me land a full-time academic position before finishing the PhD. Studying and working in London was expensive, and I am especially grateful to the Funds for Women Graduates (FfWG) charity that helped me during the last - and the most demanding - year of my PhD.
3. What made you want to work at Anglia Ruskin?
I found Cambridge as a city very international, hence attractive. Via the Association of Law Teachers, I knew the Head of Anglia Law School at the time. This reassured me that Anglia Law School were highly committed to teaching and assessment quality, which aligned with my own personal and professional values as a research-active legal educator. Having a woman as my line manager and mentor was also an advantage, indicating inclusive attitudes in the university.
4. What skills and attributes are needed to succeed in your field, both on the course and as a professional?
Communication, both oral and written; research skills; emotional intelligence; empathy and inclusive attitude; resilience; professionalism; digital literacy; keen interest in law and how it affects people’s lives.
5. What is your career highlight to date?
My first co-edited book, Solidarity in EU Law: Legal Principle in the Making, is going to be published by Edward Elgar Publishing in May 2018. This has been a long project, born out of collaboration, so I am extremely happy to see it materialise.
Besides this, in 2015 I was privileged to train as Stagiaire at the Court of Justice of the European Union in Luxembourg. This allowed me to gain practical legal experience in EU law and to understand how this supranational Court functions in real life.
6. What’s the most important piece of advice you can give to new students?
Studying law is hard, but interesting. If you make a decision to study law, be prepared to work consistently, with resilience, patience and dedication. When you do, you most likely will fall in love with law for life, make new friends and find your efforts very rewarding.
Anglia Law School tutors will immerse you into mock court room advocacy experience, a real-life legal research project or an extracurricular course. Do grab every opportunity, including being active in our student societies or volunteering with the newly-opened Law Clinic. You never know which of these will help you land a dream job!