Lauren Riley (Law, 2006, Lonsdale) answers questions about life at Lancaster and tells of her experience on the BBC series 'The Apprentice' in 2014. 

Why did you choose Lancaster University for your degree?

I grew up on the Fylde coast and worked during my studies so it was great to be able to remain local to everything that was dear to me. Lancaster had an excellent reputation for law and I felt this was important to give myself the best chance of securing a training contract in the future. 

What were your first impressions of Lancaster?

I was inspired by the opportunity to learn from the very best and the university provided a great environment to be able to focus on getting the most out of the time spent there. 

What is your fondest memory?

My overwhelming memory just has to be how proud I was of my achievements; graduating from my law degree at Lancaster was a great moment and to share it with family and friends made it all the more special. 

What was the most valuable part of your student experience?

To learn how resilient I was. I worked 20 plus hours a week in employment and studied hard to achieve a good grade, whilst wanting to make the most of my new found freedom as a young adult. I also lived off campus and couldn’t dedicate the same amount of time to group study around my job, as I had to be located elsewhere. This wasn’t easy but it taught me that I was tougher than I thought and that I made the right decisions for the right reasons. 

What is your least favourite memory?

The parking facilities, it seemed that I drove round in circles for ages trying to find a parking space on some days. 

What was your favourite student meal/snack?

I seem to remember the Greggs on campus was my ‘go to’ for providing my meals while on the go; it definitely helped to be able to pop in for a quick bite in between classes. 

Who or what particularly inspired you when you were here and why?

I will never forget one of the first law lectures we had, being told that the odds of getting a training contract and qualifying as a solicitor were so slim. It was actually a great source of motivation to prove them wrong. I work well under pressure. 

Do you keep in touch with other alumni since you graduated? If so, have you been back to visit?

Unfortunately as I have since moved to London I haven’t been able to keep in contact as much as I would have liked , although our paths have occasionally crossed in legal circles. I have been back to drive around and show my family where I went to university.  

Is there anything you particularly miss about student life?

For a long time I missed the freedom as after graduating I was employed for a number of years. I am now happily now self-employed as a solicitor and I run my own tech startup. Of course, I work very hard but strange as it seems you can draw parallels about being your own boss and being a student, ie having to be self-motivated etc.

Would you like to be a student again and if so, is there anything you would do differently?

I don’t think you are ever not a student. When I set up The Link App last year I learnt more than I have ever done. However, I would not like to be in full time education again. It is an ambition of mine to learn Spanish when I can find the time. I wouldn’t do anything differently, I believe that our experiences form who we are. 

What has been your greatest achievement so far (in any aspect of your life?) 

Although I am immensely proud of qualifying as a solicitor, my greatest achievement is founding my company The Link App. The Link App is the ultimate communication tool for busy law firms looking to thrive in an increasingly competitive market, improve customer service and save time and money. Ultimately, it serves to increase productivity across the working day, by keeping clients ‘in the loop’ without the need for back and forth communication, freeing up valuable time. I am currently in discussions with several major investors and the validation received by this experience has been fantastic. 

What made you decide to apply to be on 'The Apprentice?'

I was convinced there must be a better way for lawyers to communicate with their clients. After listening to the continued grumblings of my colleagues I had my eureka moment and a business idea was born. However, I didn’t have the significant funding needed so it seemed like a good idea to approach the programme. 

What did you learn about yourself during the ‘process?’

I learnt that I have many more skills than I anticipated. I was always confident in my all round abilities,  but I was able to do specific things such as sales that I would have previously avoided. I know myself and what I value and I realised that these values are more important than anything else. 

Did your student experience help with the situation of having to live/work with a range of personalities and if so, how?

I don’t think it did as I lived off campus. I have had a number of jobs that were based around my social skills and I love interacting with people so it wasn’t an issue for me.  

Have you kept in touch with any of the other ‘Apprentices’? 

Yes, I am happy to say I have made some good friends. I now live in London and so I do see quite a few of them.  

What were the best and worst parts of the experience? 

Overall it was an excellent experience and much more fun than you get to see as a viewer or than I ever anticipated.  The worst part for me was seeing other people’s worst qualities; I don’t believe that you have be ‘nasty’ in business to succeed. 

How will you use the experience to further your business and career? 

I worked really hard last year to get The Link App to its current stage and as it’s a business, as opposed to a concept, I have been able to create a real media buzz about it and I have several investors interested too. These are great opportunities for a tech start-up such as mine. I am also now doing public and motivational speaking and TV expert pieces because of the demand generated, so I feel very lucky. 

What next? 

As mentioned, I have branched out into a few other areas now, including speaking and media. I was blown away by the public’s reaction to me and how many people found me a source of inspiration, in business, law and in my passions for fitness, travel and fashion. I took this as a huge compliment and I have been approached to help others with their achievements. I continue to practise family law and I believe make a real difference to the lives of my clients.

The Link App is doing really well, and I anticipate securing investment early in 2015. It’s now about taking it to the next level and rolling it out to law firms across the UK. Really exciting times ahead! 

For more information visit Lauren's website www.laurenriley.co.uk