“See a career in law as a reachable goal.”
We hear from Naassir Jama, who took part in work experience PRIME programmes in 2018, run by HFW and Withers.
Where and when did you do your experience?
I was fortunate to gain two work experience placements through PRIME. The first work experience placement was in February 2018 with the firm HFW where I was placed in the Dry Shipping department. The second work experience placement was in July 2018 with the firm Withers LLP where I completed research tasks for the Family and Wealth Planning departments.
What tips would you give a student thinking of applying for work experience in a law firm?
Don’t doubt yourself. Believe in your abilities. At times this can be the hardest thing to do. Whether this is due to concerns about your grades, what school you attend or because you feel you won’t fit in to a firm due to your ethnicity. The best thing you can do for yourself is apply and demonstrate your determination.
What tips would you give a student preparing for their work experience?
1: Reach out to lawyers who work at the firm in order to gain an insight into the type of law they practise and to introduce yourself so that you have a friendly face to talk to during your work experience. I have found that this has helped especially with easing your nerves, as I have personally found this to be the case in the past.
2: Write down some goals/targets you want to achieve during your work experience. I have found that this allows you to explore some of your interests outside of the work provided to you by the firm.
3: Always be in communication with HR whether its regarding dietary requirements or for religious reasons such as praying and fasting. I have found that firms are more than happy to accommodate your needs providing that you tell them.
How can a student get the most from their work experience?
I would encourage students to be proactive. Introduce yourself to anyone that you come across during your work experience. The reason I say anyone is because whilst introducing yourself to trainees, lawyers and HR is important you can also introduce yourself to people who help lawyers such as secretaries, legal assistants and paralegals as they are able to offer a different perspective into work at the firm.
Carry around a notebook. This helps you keep track of what tasks you completed during your work experience, write down any questions you have and the names of people you came across as it is easy to forget things.
What was the best part of your work experience and why?
The best part of my work experience was having the opportunity to work alongside experienced lawyers who valued my opinion despite me being, at the time, in sixth form.
Spending time with my supervisors was great as the little things they had done made an impact on me; whether that was ensuring I understood the assigned work, introducing me to colleague who walked into their office but most importantly allowing me to develop my own independent thinking.
What did you learn about the law that you didn’t know before your work experience?
I learnt that despite the many misconceptions surrounding law, the legal profession is very much inclusive and accessible to people who come from a BAME background such as myself.
What surprised you most about your work experience?
Finding out that the legal profession is accessible to students from a BAME background and who attend a non-Russel group University. I previously believed that it was virtually impossible to enter the legal profession unless you attended a prestigious University. Having attended a community school prior to completing my work experience, I am aware of the many misconceptions surrounding the legal profession that I wouldn’t have found out were false unless I had spoken to HR and lawyers at the firm.
Were you motivated to find out more about the law after your work experience? If so, where did you go to find that information?
Yes! The Sutton Trust, specially their pathways to law programme, targets state school students who are interested in a legal career and will be first-generation attendees at university. It also helps to talk to your school’s guidance officer as they will be able to give you tailored advice on how to reach your goals.
What words of motivation do you have for a school student thinking about the law as a career?
Go for it and don’t let anyone change your decision. I say this because too often it is very easy to start doubting your abilities but just know that you are good enough to pursue law as a career.