Orin Begum’s path to law was unconventional – and her experience shows what a difference PRIME can make to talented young people who may never even have considered the legal profession.
Currently in her first year of a training contract with Clifford Chance, Orin tells us her story, what attracted her to law and how PRIME has helped her to get onto the legal career path.
“I am 23 years old and my path to law was quite unconventional. I wasn’t even born in this country. I was born in a small village in Bangladesh before moving to the UK when I was three. By the time I was 10, I had attended five different schools because, as an immigrant family in London, one of the biggest cities in the world, finding solid roots was very difficult.
I grew up in a council estate. We still live there now, as my parents worked hard to save enough money to buy our house from the local authority. I went to a very standard state comprehensive school. I left school after my GCSEs, but 50% of my year left without a GCSE in English and Maths.
During my A-levels, I worked in three jobs to support myself after my Educational Maintenance Allowance was taken away because I went to a sixth form college, which was two hours away from where I lived.
It was during my A-levels that I found PRIME through the Social Mobility Foundation. I spent a week on placement at Clifford Chance. The funny thing is I had lived opposite the Clifford Chance building for over 10 years but didn’t have a clue what happened within its glass walls. PRIME gave me that insight, and it was only then that the first thoughts of ‘yes, I could see myself here someday’ started running through my mind.
Although neither of my parents had studied at university, I received an offer to study law at the University of Oxford with a full scholarship, which covered my fees and maintenance costs.
In my first year, I didn’t make the selection for the Clifford Chance vacation scheme, but was fortunate to be selected for one with Baker and Mckenzie and I had the best time there. By the end of the summer of my second year at university I had received two training contract offers: one from Clifford Chance and the other from Baker Mckenzie. It was a tough choice, but in the end I went with where I felt I belonged and, because of the opportunity that PRIME had given me, I chose Clifford Chance.
Without PRIME, the world of international corporate law would always have been a mystery to me. Despite having lived opposite Clifford Chance for a decade, I had no idea what went on in the building. It was only when I took part in the PRIME programme that I had the opportunity to discover the work that takes place and the people who are in the building.
PRIME opened a door for me that I never knew existed. Because of the programme, I realised that I was just as capable as anyone else of achieving my goal to work in law.
And that was my path to law: from the Muslim daughter of immigrant parents who never went to university, to an Oxford graduate working with one of the best law firms in the world. It’s with thanks to the PRIME programme for helping this to happen.”