17 June 2022

A talented law student and Legal Advice Centre volunteer has won the prestigious Neuberger Prize, the first time the accolade has come to the University of East London.

Mehwish Farhan returned to education as a mature student after she had to abandon studying medicine. She decided to pursue law to "make a real difference to someone's life".

She is the first female in her family to join a university for a professional qualification and continued her pioneering work by securing the prize, which will open doors for her as she prepares to enter the legal profession.

Established in 2015, The Neuberger Prize, organised by the Honourable Society of Lincoln's Inn, is an annual award for undergraduate students who are about to start their final year of a law degree at a non-Russell Group university.

Students are assessed on their academic achievement together with a personal statement.

Mehwish, who studies at the Royal Docks School of Business and Law, said, "Being nominated as the sole representative of the University was a remarkable honour in itself but winning the first Neuberger award for UEL has been phenomenal. The commending response from peers and teachers feels awesome and surreal."

Mehwish now gets the opportunity to attend a summer school at the Inn, be matched with a mentor for the third year of her degree and given the opportunity to complete a mini-pupillage, as well as a cash prize of £250 and free admission to the Inn.

Mehwish, who wants to become a barrister, said, "Learning from a prestigious institution like Lincoln's Inn is a dream for any aspiring lawyer. The summer school along with mini pupillage and mentorship will not only equip me with learning of extremely high standards but will provide a chance to network with the experts in legal field which will be a great confidence booster."

She added, "Choosing the University of East London to do my law degree has been one of the best decisions of my life as the diverse community makes you feel at home regardless of your race, age or religion.

"I had some speculations while starting law degree as a mature student, however, the warm and welcoming environment embraced me instantly and taught me a lesson that everybody has an equal chance to shine.

"My ambition as a hijab wearing woman is to earn respect and increase the representation of Muslim women in the legal realm by becoming a successful barrister."

Mehwish paid tribute to those who had supported her throughout her time at the University. She said, "It would not have been possible to achieve this award without the reassurance and guidance from my mentors at Legal Advice Centre and the relentless support of my husband in helping me manage home, kids, job and studies altogether."

And what about her advice to fellow students who want to emulate her success?

"Be the change - everything is possible with courage and determination."

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