Ousseynou Ly will be joining the Inspirational YOU ‘Succeeding in law’ panel at Birkbeck, University of London.  He graduated in 2011 with a 1st class degree.

What is your current role?

My day job is at British Airways where I spend most of my time in trade union duties on behalf of Unite the Union.  I represent a bargaining group of 7,500 employees made of all ground staff across all UK airports and Head Office staff.  I chair the Terminals 5 and 3 Panel at Heathrow and have done so for the last 9 years.  I negotiate yearly pay and conditions deals for UK mainline A-scale staff.  I also sit on the Employment Policy Council, which negotiates and reviews all corporate policies for the entire airline.  We make sure they comply with legislations and are flexible and family friendly.

A lot of my time is also spent representing people on an individual basis on matters of discipline and grievances and running one the largest branches for Unite in the South East.

In my spare time I study.  I undertook an LLB Law Degree at Birkbeck College – University of London and graduated last year.  I have just completed year 1 of part-time Bar Professional Training Course at BPP Law School and a Masters Research in International Economic Law Justice and Development at Birkbeck.  I also in the middle of applying for pupillage in barrister Chambers starting October 2013, the ultimate and most brutal job hunt, you will ever encounter.

Can you tell me a little about your background?

I came to Britain back in 1994 to learn English from my native Ivory Coast.  My friends say there is still room for improvement, hence I am still here.  I was lucky to have a few opportunities come my way and I made sure I grabbed a few.  I learnt then that the best way to get on was to just get involved, hit the ground running.  One thing led to another and one day I came across what is my call in life: trade unionism, or advocacy on behalf of the hard working women and men at BA in particular and in the country in general.  Some of my most memorable teachings in life stem from that experience and going forward I would like to specialise in Employment Law with a particular interest in trade union law and sticking up for the little guy. Coming from a family of seven girls and one brother, almost all older than me you had to learn from a very young age to speak up for yourself.  That is probably where I get my strong sense of right or wrong and more importantly doing something about it.

What did you study law?

I studied the full spectrum of a law degree over 4 years to the rate of 3 substantive areas of law each year including Contract, Tort, Legal Methods Legal Systems, Jurisprudence, Criminal, Land, Equity & Trusts, Constitutional, Evidence, Company, Employment and EU Law.

What are your interests?

Books first and foremost and then debating and then work in that order.  Very recently I have started devoting time to Pro Bono schemes, especially in the field of Immigration where savage cuts to legal aid has made almost impossible for failed refugees for example to have access to legal advice or support.  I am the Student Director of the Manuel Bravo Immigration Scheme that helps failed asylum-seekers to prepare for their appeal in the space of 4 weeks. Access to justice is becoming a real issue as a result of the coalition cuts, especially in the family and immigration courts and it is very important that those with an interest in the legal profession give back by helping where those in need cannot necessarily afford to pay

What are your three tips for those entering your industry?

I do not have any reliable tips as I have not entered the profession per se.  This is my first year of applying for pupillage.  So far I have done all that is required from my undergraduate years to Bar school and some.  I have been lucky with interviews so far but the process is still on-going.  It seems at times like hell but like with all hells you have to keep on walking.  Having come so far, giving up is not an option.

Who do you admire?

Expect my mum and dad; it has got to be Lyndon Baines Johnson.

How do you keep going when motivation and or inspiration is waning?

Just think about far you have come.  Think about those whose next challenge is their next meal or in poor health.  After that count your blessing, pick yourself and think: Fired up, ready to go!

Any new happenings you care to share?

Ask me on the 02 August 2012.

Where can we find you?

Twitter: Ousseynou Ly
Facebook: Ousseynou Ly