Matthew Sadler is an academic from the UK-based Staffordshire University’s Law School and a specialist in Business and Commercial Law with a focus on the Law of Obligations, namely Contract Law & Problem Solving and Tort Law & Civil Liabilities. After having garnered experience in commercial roles early in the domain of domestic ceramics manufacturing, import and export; industrial recruitment and head hunting he chose to pursue an LL.B from Staffordshire University itself and qualified in 2013. He is currently pursuing a PhD from the university.
In this interview he talks about:
- The course curriculum and other information about Staffordshire University
- What led him to study law after experiencing practical business and commercial issues
- Academics and pursuing higher studies
- Career opportunities in business and commercial laws.
How would you introduce yourself to our readers?
I am Matthew Sadler, Lecturer in Business and Commercial Law at Staffordshire University.
What incidents, influences or interests prompted you to think of law as a career? If not law, what other options would you have considered for a career?
Having worked in a variety of commercial roles in my early career including domestic ceramics manufacturing, import and export; industrial recruitment and head hunting; business start up including a commercial aviation company in the Caribbean as well as general Management Consultancy for the hospitality sector I realised how influential on every day practices the law is and how little regard to its importance is often given by business professionals. I wanted to create knowledge for myself so that I could be a more effective businessman.
To what incident, experience, or influence would you attribute love for Business and Commercial Law?
After 18 years of experience in a variety of fields, I found law to be a unique impactor on business. I decided to return to education to increase my knowledge, understanding and awareness and pursue a career within academia so I could impart my experiential learning to future business innovators.
What helped you shape your current professional profile within the field?
My previous commercial experience shaped my legal knowledge and allowed me to focus on certain commercial law specialisms including Employment (Labour) Law.
What would you like to tell us about your experience in competitive commercial environments after leaving school?
Commercial activity is not dissimilar to the law in that it is dynamic and constantly changing and adapting to societal trends. My legal research focuses on the relationship interactions within commercial activity from a legal perspective. This includes power dynamics and socio-legal theory relating to communication within commercial enterprise. This is a reflection of my previous business experience which has heavily influenced my legal research and study. Therefore with a reflective analysis I can look back and see that intra-communication activity is the key to successful business and it is when this breaks down that legal consequences often arise.
How did the same impact your career path?
My previous business experience has heavily influenced my legal research and study.
What perception of the law and the legal system did you have before going in for an LLB and how did the same change through and after your graduation?
I thought of the law as a twin system in that there were legal professionals that focused on large corporate cases and then smaller firms specialising in individual family or land disputes. This was a huge misconception as I have come to realise that the law infiltrates all aspects of daily life and the legal profession are not merely catalysts to allow conflict to flourish in the courts but are facilitators to allow for dispute resolution for the benefit of all parties.
What drove you to pursue masters after completing an LLB? Why the higher education over joining a law firm or a legal practise?
I wanted to increase my knowledge and awareness of the interaction of the law with sociological factors. Does the law influence and guide societal change or is the reverse the case? I had realised I had a passion for research and decided to alter my career plans and remain in academia.
What made you decide to teach law rather than practise it?
Teaching law allows me to indulge in my passion for research. Whilst learning new themes and concepts for myself I am able to share this knowledge with my students. Research informed teaching is of paramount importance for academics as we seek to shape the minds of the next generation of legal practitioners.
Given the chance to re-do the same, would you still choose to teach rather than practise?
I think if I had the chance to relive my life I might have decided to study law at an earlier age and would most likely have entered professional practice. That being said I also think it is highly likely I would have wanted to share my professional experience with students and would have also entered academia at some stage.
Further, what prompted the PhD in Employment and Equality law?
Doctoral studies allow an individual to pursue a niche and specific area of research that ignites a passion in them. Whilst I was working within the professional employment field as a recruiter and head hunter I realised how defective certain practices were and that in some fields there is persistent discrimination and breaches of equality ethos. I wanted to investigate the power relations between employer and employee with respect to pro-activity in relation to anti-discrimination legislation and practice.
What are your views on the relationship between progressively higher education and their correlating impacts on placements within and beyond the legal sector?
In the United Kingdom there is huge competition for students who are planning to enter the profession. A reflection of this is that Universities need to prepare students for the world of work with practical skills as well as legal knowledge. We encourage our students to find placements early in the academic career to allow them to foster relationships with potential employers and training providers. This is a central ethos of our legal education at Staffordshire University.
What has your teaching experience been like so far and how would you sell the idea of academia over practise to your students?
Academic is not for everyone. You need to possess administrative skills, sales skills, empathy characteristics, patience, determination, flexibility and above all a thirst for knowledge. However it is an extremely rewarding career that allows people to progress their knowledge through research whilst educating bright minds.
How would you advise law students today to approach a career in academia?
Study hard and remember that nothing worth having comes without some hard work. Aim to be the best informed in your area of interest. Do not study a course or subject because you think you should. You need to follow your passion for a subject area as you are more likely to succeed. Also it is a marathon and not a sprint. It takes time and patience but with perseverance you will succeed.
What are the advantages of studying law at the Staffordshire University?
Staffordshire University has a dedicated team of academic professionals that possess excellent teaching skills coupled with real word practitioner experience. We encourage reflective learning techniques coupled with practical and problem based learning in order that students can apply their legal knowledge to real life scenarios. We have a purpose built Law School that is fully integrated into campus life and we boast an impressive Law Library, Moot Court and Legal Advice Clinic. The Legal Advice Clinic, which students can become involved with from their second year of study, allows students to develop work-ready skills which are valued by employers.
What measures are you taking to ensure that Indian students opting to take up a law course at Staffordshire University can utilise their knowledge in India?
At Staffordshire University we integrate practical skills with technical and factual legal education throughout our programs of study. All our law courses provide students with the capabilities to apply their legal knowledge and understanding to real world scenarios with practical problem solving skills required by the legal profession. These skills and attributes are relevant in any jurisdiction and will enhance a graduate’s employability in order to attain their career goals.
Tell us something about School’s new LLM programmes in Human Resource Management and Employment as well as Family Law and Society. Also is there any option of distance learning?
Both our new programs incorporate business and commercial awareness, socio-legal application, critical analysis of current professional practice alongside intra-disciplinary approaches to legal study. At Staffordshire University we are aware of the importance of Global Citizenship and have tailored our study programs to reflect our desire to encourage student diversity. Consequently we have study options that incorporate attended sessions in the UK alongside electronic engagement that can be conducted from anywhere in the world. We offer Distance Learning options in LLM International Sports Law as well as in International Business Law.
How do you compare the academic curriculum of law schools in India with that of the United Kingdom’s? Would you suggest any change which is needed to be brought to reform the legal education in India?
The academic curriculum in India and the United Kingdom is not dissimilar. We have legal systems based upon comparative principles and so the teaching of subject matter is very much aligned. Both countries teach the foundational principles of law such as constitutional law, law of contract, law of torts etc. but will inevitably have niche areas of law that are reflected in their nation’s activities. One such example is a prevalence of opportunity to study Space Law in India which is not a common subject in the UK.
Tell us something about Staffordshire University Legal Advice Clinic (SULAC).
Our Legal Advice Clinic allows students to apply their legal skills and attributes within an actual legal practice. We offer pro bono services within the field of civil litigation to the general public as well as students and University staff. The clinic allows students opportunities to help the public with legal issues, such as contract disputes, housing issues and contested wills and probate. Though the work is supervised by a qualified solicitor, it’s the Law School students who prepare the letters of advice. So, students gain authentic learning experiences whilst at University. Students can also utilise their practical experience as part of the Legal Advice Centre module and earn academic credit.
The career opportunities in Business and Commercial Law
Students who have studied for a Bachelor’s Degree in Law where exposure to the legal regulations of Business and Commercial activity have a unique opportunity for their career development. They will have gained valuable insight into the commercial world and be able to apply their skills and attributes to the real world. In short, students have the option of progressing on to a career within the legal profession or to pursue a career, for example, within the corporate business or finance sector.
Many of our alumni are highly successful individuals within entrepreneurial business enterprises. Others work within a variety of law related jobs including the Courts Service, Human Resource Management, Customs and Excise, Accounting and Insolvency Practice, Company Managers, Law Enforcement and the Civil Service.
What would your parting advice be to our readers?
Never think of the law as a dormant discipline sitting in dusty textbooks on a shelf in an unvisited library. Law is dynamic, exciting and ever changing and exposure to its multifaceted characteristics provides exciting opportunities for study and career development.