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Law student to law professional: my business placement experience

From drafting legal opinions, undertaking essential research and growing in confidence, Undergraduate Laws student, Laiba, shares the most valuable lessons she learned from her University of London business placement experience within a thriving law firm in Pakistan.

Written by Laiba Irshad |

A wooden court gavel on a table
'One paramount lesson learnt during this whole process was self-confidence and making the most of opportunities that came forth.'

Tell me, and I will forget. Show me, and I may remember. Involve me, and I will understand

A famous lesson from Confucius around 450 BC illuminates the importance of active engagement, which was provided by the University of London Business Placement scheme. Through this scheme, I was fortunate enough to be placed at Ahmer Bilal Soofi & Co. - Advocates and Corporate Counsels (ABS & Co.), one of the largest and most experienced law firms in Pakistan.

Working with two professional supervisors, I was taught to observe and understand the requirements of the practical field of law. They offered valuable feedback despite their busy schedules, helped me develop flexibility and initiate learning of the intricate system in a more manageable way.

I was not previously familiar with the required work style of a firm; the supervisors appreciated small details in my submissions that made me confident and vigilant to enhance my presentation. Such constructive replies motivated me to submit tasks responsibly within due time. I felt myself develop consistency and persistence observing the work etiquettes of the seniors. One of the highlights during the placement was the time when the Partner would toss challenging propositions to everyone or commence discussion regarding serious legal issues. I was astonished to see my fellow peers participate actively and bring forth distinct angles broadening my way of thinking.

ABS & Co. is a firm that specialises in a diverse range of practice areas, so my interaction was not limited to one person. I was given research tasks by other Senior Associates, which exposed me to different branches of law, giving me a clear perspective as to the choice of practice I would prefer and enjoy in future. Lastly, due to the connection with the University of London Business Placement program, they have an open door policy so that we can ask for guidance after the end of our placement tenure.

There were a large number of applications for placements and the process was competitive; the fact that many of my classmates were applying motivated me too. One paramount lesson learnt during this whole process was self-confidence and making the most of opportunities that came forth.

It is worth mentioning that I gained a plethora of valuable skills during the internship tenure.  It takes time to master drafting legal opinions, a complex area within itself, requiring thorough research covering all possible aspects in a concise manner. Working with a Senior Associate, I learnt different structures of writs and appeals before the courts, introducing constitutional laws and gaining understanding of the range of drafting that I was not familiar with.

On an individual level, I believe that studying Law with the University of London prepared me well for this opportunity. The requirement of reading not only the essential texts but also articles in the study pack to refine answers helped me interpret the general rules and enabled better case research and opinion formation during the business placement. Exercises provided in the Study Guides helped me develop concrete conclusions backed by authorities, and to come to an effective conclusion, which was vital during presentations. Furthermore, during exam preparations I took notes of lectures posted on the Student Portal, this helped me jot down relevant information while listening to the propositions presented by seniors.

In my future years, I see myself practicing at ABS & Co. as it is a delight for me to share that I attained a permanent role in the firm upon the completion of my degree. This will not only give me exposure to corporate law but also allow me to switch to litigation. There may also be opportunities to pursue other areas of interest I have discovered, such as intellectual property, constitutional, arbitration, human rights and contract laws.

The placement provided by University of London not only provided me with insights as to the legal environment but also helped get me into one of the most well-reputed firms.

Lastly, this piece is incomplete without appreciating the prompt replies of the Student Experience Team who answered every basic query and managed the placement procedure very efficiently and smoothly.