Law graduate overcomes 'crumbling spine' condition to qualify as a Solicitor

A Law graduate from De Montfort University Leicester has come back from the verge of total paralysis to land a job as a solicitor.

Jamie Bartlam was born with spina bifida, a genetic condition in which parts of the backbone are incomplete, leading to problems walking.

Jamie main

This later developed into a disabling and degenerative condition called spondylolisthesis, leaving the 25-year-old in severe pain.

However, the symptoms were invisible for most of Jamie's life and she was only diagnosed when she was 16.

Following her ambition to become a lawyer, Jamie graduated in law from the University of Leicester before enrolling at DMU on its postgraduate diploma in Legal Practice.

She said: “Just before I started at DMU, I had surgery on my spine but that actually left me in a worse position.

“I was essentially in a motorised scooter or wheelchair for a lot of the time I was at DMU.”

But Jamie found that it was DMU where she was given the most help with her studies.

She said: “DMU was better than other universities I’d been to at making sure I was welcome and accommodated. I had a note-taker to help me in lectures, I was allowed to keep my scooter on site and I had a locker so I didn’t have to carry my books with me.

“On top of that, the teaching was excellent. The lecturers are all practicing or ex-practitioners so they really know what they’re talking about. I use what I learnt at DMU every day; it’s focused on the real, practical world of law.”

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Despite graduating from DMU in January 2014 and landing a job as a trainee solicitor at Milton Keynes Council in January 2015, Jamie’s condition was worsening.

She said: “I was about six months away from being paralysed; my spine was basically crumbling.”

In March 2015, she had spinal fusion surgery which built a scaffold around her spine and since then, Jamie has been able to get her life back on track and is due to finish her training contract and qualify as a solicitor on September 15, beginning her job  with Milton Keynes Council, specialising in child protection.

She said: “I feel normal, which I know sounds bad but when you can’t walk around and move properly, you feel abnormal.

“Luckily, at DMU, I was given such support and help that I was able to really enjoy my time at university and, like I say, what I learnt has really helped me gain the career I want.”

Posted on Thursday 1st September 2016

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